John Thomas Pencerdd Gwalia (1826-1913)


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29 Sept 2013 - John Thomas Music Marathon
OTJA Harp Center and The Netherlands Reformed Church, Bennebroek, The Netherlands.
PHOTO GALLERY - scroll down for the review & full programme
Anton Sie
  • Anton Sie
    Anton Sie
  • Erik Groenestein
    Erik Groenestein
  • Edward Witsenburg
    Edward Witsenburg
  • Ann and Edward
    Ann and Edward
  • Rachel Ann Morgan
    Rachel Ann Morgan
  • Sterre Koopman
    Sterre Koopman
  • Emilie Bastens
    Emilie Bastens
  • Doriene Marselje
    Doriene Marselje
  • Lenette Marvin
    Lenette Marvin
  • Olfje Van Der Klein and Michelle Verhagen
    Olfje Van Der Klein and Michelle Verhagen
  • Sophie Van Dijk
    Sophie Van Dijk
  • Anton Sie and Erik Groenestein
    Anton Sie and Erik Groenestein
  • Ernestine Stoop
    Ernestine Stoop
  • Michelle Sweegers
    Michelle Sweegers
  • Tanne Harder and Diki Fan
    Tanne Harder and Diki Fan
  • Nick Scholten
    Nick Scholten
  • Annoes Van Der Zande
    Annoes Van Der Zande
  • Lenette Marvin
    Lenette Marvin
  • Joost Willemze
    Joost Willemze
  • Tanne Harder and Diki Fan
    Tanne Harder and Diki Fan
  • Sioned Williams
    Sioned Williams
  • Eva Peet
    Eva Peet
  • Roelina Schouten
    Roelina Schouten
  • Thalita Mugge
    Thalita Mugge
  • Caitlin De Nies
    Caitlin De Nies
  • Beate Loonstra
    Beate Loonstra
  • Marie Nilsen
    Marie Nilsen
  • Tanne Harder
    Tanne Harder
  • Simone Langeveld
    Simone Langeveld
  • Ernestine Stoop
    Ernestine Stoop
  • Ann and Ernestine
    Ann Rachel Morgan and Ernestine Stoop

Anton Sie


OTJA Harp Center
The Netherlands Reformed Church
The Netherlands

Rachel Ann Morgan

Welsh harpist Rachel Ann Morgan, who lives in The Netherlands and Dutch harpist Edward Witsenburg, who has been a regular guest lecturer in Wales for the last 45 years are organising a John Thomas Music Marathon. During the day a host of Dutch harpists will perform as many of his works as possible and Edward Witsenburg will talk about John Thomas and give advice on performance practice. Audiences are very welcome and for more details please see the next OTJA Harp Bulletin or visit OTJA’s web site:

Edward Wistenburg

For all our Dutch harpist friends taking part Edward Witsenburg has very kindly translated in to Dutch a birthday tribute to Pencerdd Gwalia by Ann Griffiths titled:
you can read it here


The John Thomas marathon held on Sunday 29th September in Bennebroek in The Netherlands to commemorate the centenary of his death (1826-1913) was a great success. 26 pieces were performed by 23 harpists and one violinist. The solo pieces were all performed by students from the conservatoires of Amsterdam, Arnhem, Groningen, Utrecht, Zwolle and The Hague. The four duos were played by one student duo and three pairs of professional harpists.

We started at 1 pm with a word of welcome by the organiser, Welsh harpist and singer Rachel Ann Morgan. Our guest of honour was Welsh harpist Sioned Williams, who flew in from London with a suitcase full of John Thomas and his harpist brother Apthomas’ music, articles, letters, signatures, etc. Edward Witsenburg then gave a fascinating lecture on John Thomas. We managed to keep to the schedule and had three sessions of one hour with two half hour intervals. Edward had made an interesting and varied programme from the list of studies, Welsh melodies, other solos and the duos. Edward and Rachel Ann started the programme with Thomas’ version of Schubert’s Ständchen arranged for two harps. Two young men, Anton Sie and Erik Groenestein, played Cambria with panache at the end of the first session. Audience and players were invited to walk to Otja Harpcenter during the intervals. Tea, coffee, apple pies and Welsh cakes were enjoyed by all. There we could look at Sioned’s exhibition, see a 19th century Welsh triple harp belonging to Rachel Ann, which was the type of harp that John Thomas first played. Also a late 19th century Gothic Erard, belonging to Edward Witsenburg, which was the type of harp that John Thomas played for most of his life. There too we could watch YouTube clips of children playing pieces by John Thomas: two very young Russian children, an Israeli girl living in Cardiff, Noa Gabay, and the young Welsh talent, Benjamin Creighton Griffiths.

Everyone played on the instruments provided by Otja: a Lyon & Healy, a Salvi and a Camac. Similar instruments were available for warming up at Otja Harpcenter, so that no time was wasted by bringing one’s own harp. Rachel Ann explained the stories of the Welsh melodies, and sang two of them unaccompanied. The marathon ended with Ernestine Stoop and Rachel Ann playing Souvenir du Nord, on Russian melodies.



Harp-marathon in de Hervormde Kerk, Bennebroek, op 29 September 2013

13.00 - 13.30 Lezing door Edward Witsenburg

1e BLOK (13.30 – 14.30 uur)
F. Schubert Ständchen Rachel Ann Morgan
en Edward Witsenburg
John Thomas Megan’s Daughter Sterre Koopman
  Etude nr. 2 Emilie Bastens
The Seasons:  
   1. Spring Emilie Bastens
   2. Summer Doriene Marselje
   3. Autumn Lenette Marvin
Prelude for Violin and Harp Olfje van der Klein
& Michelle Verheggen
Watching the Wheat Sophie van Dijk
Cambria Erik Groenestein en Anton Sie
2e BLOK (15.00 – 16.00 uur)
John Thomas The Minstrel’s Adieu Joost Willemze
G.F. Händel The Harmonious Blacksmith Nick Scholten
John Thomas David of the White Rock Annoes van der Zande
Etude nr. 4 Lenette Marvin
Four Romances:  
   1. The Tear Michelle Sweegers
   3. The Parting Joost Willemze
   4. The Remembrance Nick Scholten
Rhapsody Oxana Thijssen
March of the Welsh Fusiliers Tanne Harder en Diki Fan
3e BLOK (16.30 – 17.30)
John Thomas Etude nr. 5 Eva Peet
Aeolian Sounds Roelina Schouten
The Camp Thalita Mugge
The Bells of Aberdovey Caitlin de Nies
Etude nr. 9 Beate Loonstra
Etude nr. 11 Marie Nilsen
G. Donizetti Una Furtiva Lagrima Tanne Harder
John Thomas Le Soir Simone Langeveld
Souvenir du Nord Ernestine Stoop
en Rachel Ann Morgan


Een paar regels voor de deelnemers aan de marathon:

  1. Er zullen drie harpen in de kerk staan: Lyon & Healy, Salvi en Camac. Daar moet iedereen - zonder uitzondering - op spelen.

  2. De deelnemers worden dringend verzocht vóór de aanvang van ieder blok in de kerk aanwezig te zijn. Dat is van het allergrootste belang voor een vlot verloop van de marathon! Als het applaus voor een optredende weerklinkt, dient de volgende speler al “in de aanslag” te staan.

  3. In Otja Harpcenter kan ingespeeld worden. Otja zal er op toezien dat de studeertijd eerlijk onder de gegadigden wordt verdeeld.

BLOK 1 kan inspelen van 12.00 tot 12.45 uur.

BLOK 2 “ “ van 13.30 tot 14.30 uur.

BLOK 3 “ “ van 15.00 tot 16.00 uur.