Nansi Richards

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Nansi Richards Jones (14 May 1888 – 21 December 1979) was a Welsh harpist, sometimes known as the “Queen of the Harp”[1] or by her bardic title, "Telynores Maldwyn."[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Jane Ann (Nansi) Richards was born at Pen-y-bont-fawr, Oswestry. An expert on both the triple and pedal harps, she always maintained that the greatest influences on her life were her father Thomas Richards, the Travellers who stayed on their farm, and Tom Lloyd (Telynor Ceiriog, 1848-1917), who taught her to play the harp. She also studied at the Guildhall School of Music in London, with harpist John Thomas.

Musical career[edit]

She won the National Eisteddfod harp competition three times in succession. After a year at the Guildhall School of Music, she toured with American comedian "Happy" Fanny Fields. The two young women devised tricks for Nansi to do while playing the harp, such as playing with her back turned, or playing two harps simultaneously.[1]

Nansi Richards was appointed Royal Harpist to the Prince of Wales in 1911, a title she held until her death; the role remained vacant until it was reinstated in 2000.[3]

Nansi Richards Jones is credited as teaching traditional triple-harp technique to several musicians, including entertainer Ryan Davies,[4] Dafydd and Gwyndaf Roberts of the folk band Ar Log, and triple harpist Llio Rydderch.[5]

In 1972 she published an autobiography, Crwpwrdd Nansi.[1]

Kellogg's cockerel[edit]

A frequently told, but possibly apocryphal, story about Richards involves one of Richards' overseas trips, when she visited the home of corn flakes manufacturer Will Kellogg, who was looking for a marketing idea. Richards suggested the cockerel (later named Cornelius Rooster), inspired by a pun on the name Kellogg and the Welsh word "ceiliog", meaning "cockerel".[6]

Personal life and legacy[edit]

Nansi Richards married Cecil Maurice Jones (1902-1963). In widowhood she lived in Penfilia Road, Swansea, a property she had converted from two cottages. She died late in 1979, age 91. Her remains were buried in the churchyard at St Melangell's Church, Pennant Melangell near Llangynog.[7]

There is an annual Nansi Richards Harp Scholarship competition for young harpists.[8]

A recording of Nansi Richards playing "Pen Rhaw" was included on the 2000 album The Rough Guide to Music of Wales.[9]

In 2015, Nansi, a play about the life of Nansi Richards, written by Angharad Price, was staged by Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru at the National Eisteddfod.[10][11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Folktrax 351, "Nansi Richards, Triple Harp".
  2. ^ David Barnes, The Companion Guide to Wales (Companion Guides 2005): 42. ISBN 9781900639439
  3. ^ Press release, Office of the Prince of Wales, "Hannah Stone Becomes New Official Harpist to HRH The Prince of Wales" (June 27, 2011).
  4. ^ Rhydderch Jones, Ryan: A Biography (Y Lolfa 2003): 18. ISBN 9780862436551
  5. ^ Fintan Vallely, The Companion to Irish Traditional Music (NYU Press 1999): 429. ISBN 9780814788028
  6. ^ "Why is there a Cockerel on the Kellogg's Box?" BBC Wales History (3 March 2010).
  7. ^ Arfon Gwilym, Nansi Richards (Montgomery's Harpist) and the Triple Harp (Arts Connection - Cswllt Celf 2015).
  8. ^ The Nansi Richards Scholarship Competition website.
  9. ^ Various Artists, Rough Guide to the Music of Wales (World Music Network 2000).
  10. ^ Eryl Crump, "New Play Tells Story of Montgomery Harpist Nansi Richards" Daily Post (30 June 2015).
  11. ^ Eryl Crump, "Review: Nansi, Stiwt, Llanfair Caereinion" Daily Post (4 August 2015).