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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 October 2005, 14:15 GMT 15:15 UK
'Finch effect' helps harp develop
Catrin Finch
Catrin Finch has been playing the harp for 19 years
Former Royal harpist Catrin Finch is making the instrument "exciting" to play again, claims a manufacturer.

Harp maker Allan Shiers said the "Finch effect" was having an impact on sales and those learning to play the traditional Welsh instrument.

Ms Finch opened Wales' first large-scale production factory in Llandysul, Ceredigion, on Wednesday.

Mr Shiers hopes to make 80 Celtic harps in the first year and then start producing folk and pedal harps too.

His project, Telynau Teifi (Teifi harps), already has a workforce of eight and will be run by the community.

Allan Shiers working on a harp
Catrin Finch is like a breath of fresh air
Allan Shiers

Originally from Cardiff, Mr Shiers has built the instruments for 30 years and said he wanted to take harp manufacturing into the 21st Century.

Before holding a two-hour master class with schoolchildren at the opening, Ms Finch, 24, from Llanon, near Aberystwyth, said the new factory was "very important to Wales".

"Catrin Finch is like a breath of fresh air and the harp has become a dynamic instrument to play once more," said Mr Shiers.

"She is doing a lot to inspire young people to take up the harp. She's vibrant and making the harp an exciting instrument to play."

He added: "It terms of what she's doing making the harp more attractive and helping to increase sales, I think it's fair to say there is a Finch effect."

Ms Finch, who has been playing the harp for 19 years, said Mr Shiers' comments were "quite a compliment".

"I'm trying to get a lot of people involved and more people playing the harp. It's nice to hear that people think I'm succeeding," she said.

"Wales is the home of the harp and it's about time we had a large-scale producer - it's been a long awaited project."

Catrin Finch
Catrin Finch will give a master class after opening the harp factory

Ms Finch, who plays an Italian-made harp, added: "This is very important to Wales."

The new business is the brainchild of Mr Shiers who wants to keep his skills alive in the community.

He has teamed up with Cardiff University to come up with an improved design for Wales' national instrument.

The 1m enterprise in a former junior school is the first large-scale harp manufacturer in Wales.

Mr Shiers used to service Ms Finch's harp until she moved to London to embark on a career which saw her become harpist to Prince Charles for four years.

The scheme is backed by the Welsh Assembly Government's regeneration fund grants and regional assistance money from the EU.

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