Profile: Robin Huw Bowen

Robin Huw Bowen is the foremost player of the uniquely Welsh triple harp, as well as a campaigner for its revival and manager of his own record company and press.

The triple harp has obscure origins, in the eighteenth century; it has three rows of strings, the outer two in unision to each other, the middle for accidentals, making it a fully chromatic instrument. It was popular for a time throughout Europe, in art music as much as folk, but was later superseded by the pedal harp (which uses the pedal for accidentals). The triple harp lived on only in Wales, where it was extremely popular, and much cheaper and lighter than the new pedal harps. It became known as the Welsh national instrument in the nineteenth century

Born in Liverpool (the unofficial 'capital of North Wales', despite being in England), to Welsh-speaking parents, Robin learned simple celtic harp while at school, inspired by the Breton harper, Alan Stivell. He was first exposed to the triple harp by the brothers Dafydd and Gwyndaf Roberts who played the instrument with the traditional Welsh group Ar Log. They had learned from Nansi Richards, the last of the Welsh gypsy harpists, and he in turn learned from them. He played locally for serveral years, and joined the Welsh traditional group Mabsant in 1986, toured and recorded with them for two years and then set out on his own. Since then he has played solo and with the vocal duo Cusan Tan, with whom he currently tours.

In a linked strand, he worked for some years at the Welsh National library. While there he discovered several old collections of Welsh tunes and arrangements for harp. He set up his own press, Gwasg Teires (Triple Harp Press) to publish this material, one of the only current sources for traditional Welsh music; his book of two hundred hornpipes, Tro Llaw, mostly from this archives was published by the Welsh National Library.


1995   Harp Music of Wales                           Saydisc 412                 
1994   Hela'r Draenog (Hunting the Hedgehog)         Teires
1988   Cyfarch Y Delyn (Honour the Harp)             Sain 600
1991   Telyn Berseiniol Fy Ngwlad                    Teires/
       (The Sweet Harp of My Land)                   Flying Fish FF70610

with Cusan Tan:
1992   Cusan Tan (Kiss of Fire)                      Fflach

with Mabsant
1987   Trwy'r Weiar (Through the Wire)               Sain

CD Universe sells two of his albums online.

Copyright (c) 1994,1997 Ceolas.

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