Feb 25, 2010

Lets Send Laura To Wales! - Calling the American Welsh Community!

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( or mail checks to:- 606 St Paul St., Campus Box 673, Baltimore MD, 21202 )

"Hello! My name is Laura Stokes. I am currently studying Harp Performance at the Peabody Conservatory of music in Baltimore MD under Dr. Ruth K. Inglefield.

This April I will be traveling to Caernarfon Wales (UK) to compete in the Youth Competition of the Second Wales International Harp Festival. This is a wonderful and very exciting opportunity for me. Dr. Inglefield found the competition and urged me to enter because she knew of my love for Wales and harp. I was born to and English father and American mother in Charlottesville VA, USA. Throughout my childhood I spent each summer and many Christmases in Wales, in a cottage that my parents bought 18 years ago in the village of Llanrhaeadr-Ym-Mochnant in Powys. I began playing harp at the age of 8 after many years of begging my family for lessons after falling in love with the instrument while in Wales as a toddler. After 7th grade in Virginia, my family relocated to Wales so that my father, a blacksmith, could assist his brother, also a blacksmith, on a large ironwork project. I attended Welsh high school for a year and totally fell in love with the country and the people of Wales. I was overjoyed to learn that high school owned a harp and had a wonderful teacher who came to the school once a week and gave harp lessons. It was during the time that I really fell in love with harp and decided that I wanted to pursue it a career in music. We loved living in Wales so much that we decided to stay for a second year, during which I passed, with merit, the grade 5 Harp exam given by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music.

Upon returning to the United States in my Sophomore year of high school, I finally bought a concert grand pedal harp. With this instrument, a Venus Paragon, I was able to excel in harping playing as I had never been able to before. I am now studying at the Peabody Conservatory of Music working towards a Bachelor’s of Music in Harp Performance and I am loving every minute of it.

When Dr. Inglefield approached me with the idea of competing in Wales I was simply over the moon with excitement. Sadly neither of us had heard anything of the competition until only a few days before the entry deadline. I still went ahead and applied not wanting to miss out on the great opportunity. The Wales International Harp Competition has many different levels. I will be competing in the Youth Competition a category for harpists under age 19. I am now 18 years old and will be at the time of the competition. This is amazingly timely and couldn’t have worked out better time wise. Sadly being a freshman at Peabody I am ineligible to receive any grant money for career development/competition/travel from the school. It is my last possible chance to compete in this level of competition.

I am determined to get to Wales this April but this is not a cheap endeavor, as you know the price of cross Atlantic plane tickets is phenomenal and room and board and cost of attendance of this week long festival is also rather pricey.

I am now on a quest to find someone, be it community group, individual, foundation etc. who would be willing to help sponsor my trip. Every little helps no matter how large or small.

Thank you!!!!!

--Laura Stokes"

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