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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 February 2006, 12:14 GMT
Concert starts folk anniversary
Rhes Ganol - pic from Bangor university
Rhes Ganol are the first triple harp group since WWI
A type of harp unique to Wales will feature at the centre of concert to mark 100 years of a society dedicated to preserving traditional Welsh songs.

The Welsh Folk Song Society is beginning a year of events to mark its centenary with a concert at Bangor on Saturday evening.

It features the triple harp, which became known as the Welsh national instrument in the 19th century.

The group performing, Rhes Ganol, features five triple harpists.

The triple harp, which has three rows of strings rather than the usual one, became known as the Welsh harp because although originally made in Italy, it only really survived in Wales.

Within these songs, within the words and the music, there are aspects of our history
Wyn Thomas

Dating from the 17th Century, it was much cheaper and lighter than pedal harps and became extremely popular in Wales.

It was traditional music of the sort played on the triple harp which the Welsh Folk Society, formed in 1906, was set up to preserve.

Wyn Thomas, lecturer in music at the University of Wales, Bangor, where the concert is being held, says Welsh folk songs are "living history books".

"Within these songs, within the words and the music, there are aspects of our history, our language, the development of the way in which the language has changed over the years, cultural ideas, aspects of our religion and carolling and the New Year traditions.

"All this is contained within the folk tradition in Wales," he told BBC Radio Wales.

Rhes Ganol - whose name in Welsh refers to the "middle row" of strings unique to the triple harp - formed in 2000.

Known as a choir, although there is no singing involved, they are the first group of triple harpists to play together since before WWI.

The concert on Saturday starts at 2000 GMT in the Powis Hall at the university in Bangor.

Hear the music and players of the triple harp

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