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Accompanied by her husband, Chris, on all manner of percussion instruments from around the world, former Royal Harpist Claire Jones wowed the Spa crowd with a teatime show that more than packed a punch.

Given that she’s performed at scores of official Royal engagements in the company of Prince Charles et al, Claire is no stranger to getting up on stage. Yet, in spite of her extraordinary talent, she remains totally grounded and without ego, as evidenced by the gratitude that she extended towards her rapt audience, forever thanking them for offering sustained rounds of applause following each piece of music that she performed.

Presenting a stunning selection of tunes from the world of Film, she plucked her way through familiar melodies from “Edward Scissorhands” and “The Notebook,” and less familiar – but no less rousing – pieces from the world of Classical music. There was also some music that had been composed by Chris, who is rightfully revered for his work as a West End percussionist.

It seemed inevitable that Claire and Chris would develop something musically together, even if their favoured instruments languish at opposite ends of the musical spectrum. Theoretically-speaking, a set of drums shouldn’t sound particularly harmonious when played alongside a harp, yet somehow it worked, the resultant effect genuinely mesmerising.

‘There are only a handful of duos like us in the world,’ Claire conceded, ‘so it’s nice to know that we’re doing something different!’

Initially taking it in turns to perform, attention ricocheted between Claire and Chris, with Chris introducing the crowd to a marimba (a percussion instrument consisting of a set of wooden bars that are struck with mallets), some congas, and a djembe. He also intermittently let loose on a good old-fashioned drum-kit, which he evidently rejoiced in playing whilst standing.

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Opening the second half of the concert with a special “guest-spot” courtesy of two young harpists who had been receiving lessons from one of her former teachers, Claire showed how supportive she is of other harpists who are in the process of progressing through the ranks. Just a few weeks before visiting Bridlington with their “Hands of Fire” show, Claire and Chris (also known as “C2”) had been touring America, during which time they’d conducted a series of workshops designed to inspire fellow harpists.

Utilising a large video-screen at the back of the stage to further enhance the ambience, Claire worked her huge golden harp with otherworldly poise, her astounding dexterity ensuring that every single note that she played rang out with delectable clarity. With the harp one of the most difficult instruments to master, watching her in action can be likened to watching a magician work their magic, so quick are her hand movements, her fingers a blur, her “Hands of Fire” handle wholly justified.

Incredibly, the Bridlington Spa show constituted only the second time that the show had been performed in public – not that such a thing was obvious. To the contrary, the fact that there wasn’t a single dud note suggested that the entire show had already been perfected to the hilt and back. Even so, Claire was quick to remark that the show was a work in progress, destined to evolve as C2’s musical boundaries exponentially expand.

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(Steve Rudd)

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