Harp tunes evoke borderland memories

Reporter:

Barry Jones

AN ALBUM of original harp music evoking the Tanat Valley and other parts of the border area has been released by a former resident who grew up in the area.

Tracks from the “Heartland” album by Valli (Valerie) Lloyd, now based in Hull, have been getting airplay on various radio stations and it is also starting to sell with Christmas coming up.

The tunes are inspired by family, friendship, locality and landscape, mainly based on the border area where she grew up.

“My childhood home was at the foot of the Breidden, just up the road from Criggion Quarry where my father, Doug Lloyd, was the manager,” said Valli.

“The Heartland I write about stretches from the Breidden over to the Berwyns, via the Tanat Valley where my parents grew up.

“My dad’s father was manager at Blodwel Quarry, and my mother, Vera Morris’ parents for many years kept the Horse Shoe Inn at Llanyblodwel.

“The entire family was musical. My dad’s father was conductor of Llanyblodwel Choir, and my dad, along with his siblings, was a founder member of Porthywaen Silver Band, started in the 1930s by their uncle Cyril Gillham.

“Music is a big part of my life too. When I started to play the harp about 16 years ago, I found myself drawn to Welsh traditional tunes.

“These have been a big influence on the kind of music I have created,” said Valli.

For more than 20 years now Valli has been spending a lot of time in Ireland and has made good friends among the talented musicians of Donegal, including Bill Robinson who recorded and mastered the album, Finbarr Doherty and The McCools.

They provided great inspiration and support in the recording of the album when Valli took her harp and a few tunes over there to record this CD.

The opening Heartland tune sets the scene evoking a longing for the countryside locations of her childhood before the deeper and richer sounds of Afon Tanat capture the shimmering sound of the river as it makes its way to join the Vyrnwy.

The harp sparkles as children ascend the mountain in Climbing Breidden and an up-hill walk becomes a lament in Haulfryn, while The Road Home has the spirit of a familiar nursery rhyme. accompanying a nostalgic journey.

Tune for Rosie is tinged with sadness in remembrance of a friendship with a witty, talented and fearless Irish woman.

Two tunes of haunting magic reflect on local legend and historical subjects as Melangell and the Hare concerns the maiden who was made a saint after rescuing a hare from being hunted by the Prince of Powys, and Sycharth is inspired by accounts of Owain Glyndwr’s grand court near Llansilin.

The album winds down with a folk tune for Valli’s brother in Tune for Nick; the lovely Border Blues inspired by the R.S. Thomas poem; and the melancholy Long Ago and Far Away remembering a snowy Christmas afternoon at home in the 1950s.

“Heartland” is available at Welshpool Tourist Information Centre, Oswestry Visitor Centre, and at Llanrhaeadr ym Mochnant, at the Wynnstay and at Dragons, among other local outlets.

Email:

barry.jones@nwn.co.uk

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