After becoming an online event last year due to Covid, the Harp on Wight International Festival made a welcome return to live performances at the end of last month (October).

There were four days of live concerts and teaching workshops at Ryde Methodist Church and organisers said it was the live first harp festival to be held in the UK for two years.

Following the traditional harp-themed dinner at Michelangelo's Restaurant on Thursday, October 21, there was a spectacular sold-out concert at the church the following evening, with Welsh harpist Anne Denholm — who is the festival's patron — joining forces with the 30-strong Voices of the IW Choir conducted by Linda Filby-Borrett to give the event an uplifting start.

Leading young harpists Tara Viscardi of Ireland and Maria McNamee from Northern Ireland performed in the traditional Saturday afternoon Performance Platform concert, with Lauren Scott giving a delightful intricate evening concert on lever harp.

Alexander Rider's Sunday afternoon concert of music by French composers, played on an original Erhard pedal harp, was engaging and informative as he gave detailed explanations about each piece.

Scottish harpist Catriona McKay gave an immaculate Sunday evening concert, which maintained the festival's reputation for performances of an impeccable standard.

Isle of Wight County Press: Catriona McKay playing at Harp on Wight 2021. Picture by Pamela Parker.

Catriona McKay playing at Harp on Wight 2021. Picture by Pamela Parker.

The students who had taken part in Lauren's Scott's workshop gave a concert on the Monday afternoon, together with Lauren and Alexander, and the festival concluded with another top performance by Anne-Marie O'Farrell from Ireland, with lever changes at dazzling speed.

Vic King, one of the founders of the festival, said: "The concerts and workshops were well attended, and the organisers were very pleased with how the eighth annual festival went, especially given the current circumstances.

"Speaking after the event, festival director Anna Sacchini spoke of a real depth to the concerts which she felt went beyond just the actual music — a very fair assessment."

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Pictures by Pamela Parker.