|The Golden Harp|
Claire played Victor Salvi's Golden Harp
as Official Harpist to the Prince of Wales
In 2015 the TCAT Committee were approached by a very special performer with the idea for a very special show. The incredibly talented and successful concert harpist Claire Jones is currently touring with her stage show which traces her journey of recovery after contracting the condition Myalgic Encephalopathy (M.E.), also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, with all its debilitating symptoms.
|An accomplished public speaker|
(The position of Official Harpist was revived by Prince Charles in 2000, after a break of 119 years, to showcase the Welsh harp, and Welsh musicianship. In 2006 international harpist and harp manufacturer, Victor Salvi, donated a superb golden harp to the Prince for the Official Harpist to play - shortly before Claire Jones took up the post.)
dances to Gustav's Holst's
"Venus, Bringer of Peace"
- amazing image of a stellar nebula
Following an opening performance of a harp arrangement of Audrey Coppard's musical setting of the folk song "Scarborough Fair" (made famous by Simon & Garfunkel), Claire introduced three arresting harp pieces (under the positive-thinking title of "Calm & Serenity") illustrating this unexpected hiatus. First Gustav Holst's "Venus" from his "Planets" suite - accompanied by a stunning slide show of astronomical images, including a spectacular close up of the constellation The Swan, showing a young (and very energetic) star with its awesome incandescent jets of ejected matter (Nebula Sh2 106). Against this impressive backdrop, Claire's illness and sense of loss were recreated in dance by Holly Williams, Director of Dance Party Cardiff & Pzazzwales.
|"Heartstrings" - a marriage proposal in Rio|
The second section, reflecting Claire's convalescence in her native Pembrokeshire, featured three original compositions by Chris Marshall accompanied by projections, controlled off-stage once again by Chris himself. These included images of Claire playing the pieces in some very chilly-looking locations - perfectly synchronised with Claires live playing on stage.
"Heartstrings" was accompanied by views of the Cristo Redentor in Rio de Janeiro - at the top of which Chris proposed marriage to Claire in 2012 - and also included views of Claire playing her harp on the beach at Southerndown in Glamorgan.
|"Bluestones" - from the Preseli Mountains|
|Tiverton Flower Society|
"The Pink Panther"
Niamh Flynn played a harp arrangement of John Williams' music for the 'Cantina Band' of alien musicians, which appears in the "Star Wars" movie. Caitlin Davies, only nine years of age, played a delightful Welsh piece "Pwt ar y Bys" (Finger Study) on a diminutive Welsh harp.
As Chris removed the student harps, Claire introduced his djembe orchestra. Chris returned to lead the players in rhythmic hand-claps, then sang lines from an African song "Ghana Call Ashiya" which they repeated, before they all joined in a djembe ensemble performance of a Nigerian take on the Ghanaian 'High Life' rhythm.
|Vibraphone: Chris Marshall - Harp: Claire Jones|
"Dance of the Young Princess"
"Toss the Feathers"
Saturday's concert was a great occasion for Tiverton Community Arts Theatre. Claire Jones and Chris Marshall, who are currently preparing the US release of their CD "Hands of Fire" and a ten-day tour of the East Coast starting on Thursday 4 March in Orlando FL and winding up in Baton Rouge LA ten days later. Immediately following the subsequent four days of post-tour press interviews in New York, they will be releasing their new album "Royal Harp Strings" on Silva Classics. It was an amazing privilege for us here in Devon to have a harpist to the Royal Family taking time out from such a hectic schedule to perform for us here in the West Country - and so generously to make way for new musicians to join her on stage.
Her performance was also a testament to her recovery from serious illness. Without Claire's explanations, however, no one would have guessed the journey of recovery she has been through. Every piece was played with commanding precision and subtle delicacy. The very professional synchronisation of video and slides with Claire's live playing, by Chris behind the scenes, was a joy to watch. Chris's own performance, on vibraphone, cajón and djembe, was equally engaging. Add the sensitive and evocative dance portrayal by Holly Williams, and the combination is a perfect stage performance.
Devon harpists, and aspiring harpists, including Emma Graham's students who attended the concert, will be greatly inspired by a visit from such an illustrious musician as Claire Jones - and by the wonderful music she has created with her husband Chris Marshall.
Other albums by the duo (also known as "C2") include "Girl with the Golden Harp" released shortly after Claire completed her contract as Official Harpist, "Journey" (Music to Soothe the Soul) which was inspired by her illness and recovery, and several classical albums including "Harp Concertos" recorded with the London Mozart Players.
Claire and Chris welcome enquiries by email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Full details can be found on the Claire Jones website - clairejones.co.uk
|Harp: Claire Jones|
|Cajón: Chris Marshall|
|Dance: Holly Williams|
|Harp: Claire Jones|
|Vibraphone: Chris Marshall|
|Classical Dance: Holly Williams|
|Introducing the djembe band: Claire Jones|
|Dance I : Holly Williams|
|Dance II : Holly Williams|
|Finale: Holly Williams, Chris Marshall, Claire Jones|