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Rediscovered Newtown musical hero to be celebrated

Created on 20/05/2017 @ 10:27
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A Romany musician who lived in Newtown 150 years ago and played for Queen Victoria is to be celebrated as part of a project between Newtown Town Council and local primary schools.

John Roberts, who lived in Frolic Street with his family, came back to prominence last year during the Gregynog Festival. This year the town council has won a Big Lottery Fund grant to celebrate his life and to work with primary schools.

He was famous for playing the triple harp.

“He lived there for most of his married life, raising a large family, and once even played the harp for Queen Victoria. Well known in other parts of the world, John Roberts is today almost unknown in Newtown,” said a town council spokesman.

He travelled Wales and further afield with his family, playing at major events, including the National Eisteddfod.

They also held concerts in the former Bear Hotel in Newtown.
Today, most people in Newtown are unaware of the celebrity Newtown was home to. He is buried at St David’s Churchyard.

On Tuesday, 6 June, renowned harpist, Harriet Earis, and story-teller Peter Stevenson, will host a free hour long performance celebrating the life of John Roberts.

The event will include Harriet playing his actual triple harp.

“Featuring the traditional tunes he played and the stories of Esmeralda the Gypsy Dancing Girl, the King of Romany and the Green Man of No Man’s Land, the performance will raise awareness of and tell the stories of John Roberts and his life with specially drawn illustrations and musical accompaniment played on the harp and his original triple-harp,” added the council spokesman.

Photo: John Roberts with his triple harp

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