Official Harpist to HRH The Prince of Wales
D Scarlatti, M Grandjany, J Thomas, G Williams, D Henshall, B Andrès, S Beamish and P Chertok
Concert sponsored by:
Photo: Julian Dodd
Sonata in E Major, K.380
David of the White Rock
Three Welsh Dances
Elegie Pour La Mort D'un Berger (Elegy for the death of a shepherd)
Around the Clock Suite (3 out of 4 pieces)
- Beige Nocturne
- Harpicide at Midnight
- The Morning After
This year`s concert which is sponsored annually by the chartered accountants A.J.Bennewith &Co.(and to which a number of their clients are invited), took place on Wednesday 18th July and was a lunchtime recital by Anne Denholm, a young Welsh lady who has the distinction of being the Harpist to HRH The Prince of Wales. This is a very privileged position and it goes without saying as a glance at her c.v. will show, that her musical abilities are of the highest standards. The position of Royal Harpist was first established in 1871 by Queen Victoria who awarded the honour to John Thomas, a Welsh musician who wrote and arranged numerous folk tunes for the harp together with many more major compositions. After falling out of fashion for a long time, the prestigious title was revived by Prince Charles in 2000 and each harpist usually holds the position for four years. Anne Denholm is the fifth to do so, some of her predecessors having served less time for various interesting reasons. Being a title bestowed by the Prince of Wales, one main purpose is to enhance Celtic culture and Welsh harp music in particular so Anne`s recitals always contain appropriate works.
As a change from the listed programme, Anne started with Marcel Grandjany`s Rhapsodie, a romantic florid piece ideally showing off the harp`s potential with grand arpeggios producing a dramatic effect. A favourite from the piano or harpsichord repertoire, the Scarlatti Sonata in E, K.380 sounded charming when played on the harp, and preceded one of John Thomas`s best known arrangements of "David of the White Rock". This folk song was one of four Welsh pieces, the others being Three Dances by Dalwyn Henshall.
"Hiraeth" literally meaning" longing", by Grace Williams, was a short piece with a haunting melody and was the first of three evocative works, perhaps the most poignant being "Awuya" by contemporary writer Sally Beamish. This depicted the onset and progression of the dreadful African sleeping sickness disease rife in the 1940`s, and many unusual harp effects such as tribal drum beats, were used to produce a very impressive rendering of this moving composition. The third impressionistic work was Bernard Andres`s "Elegie pour la mort d`un berger". This pictured a lament, a storm, and a further lament, again requiring much virtuosity on the part of the player to bring off.
As a complete contrast and to conclude her programme, Anne played three pieces from the American composer and harpist Pearl Chertok`s "Round the Clock" suite.-- "Beige Nocturne", "Harpicide at Midnight" and "The Morning After" are full of swinging syncopated transatlantic rhythms somewhat reminiscent of Billy Mayerl . The combination of pizzicatos and glissandos have a ravishing effect when played on the harp and it must indeed be very difficult to separate melody from accompaniment with only the hands to damp as well as pluck the strings unlike a piano where there are pedals to help.
Anne Denholm proved to be a very outgoing lady with an excellent rapport with the audience of around eighty persons, and despite a broken string owing to the excessive heat, was completely unfazed, and after fitting a new one, continued her first class recital to add to our successful concerts, and we feel privileged to have had an artiste with such a royal pedigree to play for us.
Anne Denholm is one of Britain’s leading young harpists, and is Official Harpist to HRH The Prince of Wales. She is earning a reputation for her interpretations and powerful performances across a variety of musical fields.
Originally from South West Wales and of Scottish heritage, Anne received her Master’s from the Royal Academy of Music (RAM) in London with distinction, graduating with the Renata Scheffel-Stein Harp Prize, the Sir Reginald Thatcher prize and a Regency Award for notable achievement. Whilst at the RAM, she was the first harpist to win the historic RAM Club Prize, twice winner of the Skaila Kanga Harp Prize, and holder of a Headley Trust Award and the John Thomas Scholarship. In July 2015 she was appointed Official Harpist to HRH The Prince of Wales, the fifth artist to hold this position since its reinstatement in 2000.
Anne underwent a British musical upbringing, studying at the Junior Department of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, the Purcell School and Cambridge University before the RAM. However, she has inherited rich traditions from the French and Russian schools of harp playing through her studies with Charlotte Seale and Karen Vaughan, respectively.
As a soloist, Anne has won numerous prizes in local, national and international music festivals and competitions. She won second place in the Texaco Young Musician of Wales 2009 and was a string category finalist in the BBC Young Musician 2010. At the Wales International Harp Festival, she was awarded second prize in the under 19 category in 2010, and second prize in the Chief Musician Competition in 2014. In June 2013, Anne received the Cambridge University Donald Wort Prize for excellence in music performance after achieving the highest final recital mark, and in 2014 won first prize in the Urdd National Eisteddfod 19-25 solo instrumental category, then being selected to compete for the Bryn Terfel Urdd Scholarship 2014. She has performed as a soloist at the Wigmore Hall and across the U.K., including at the Fishguard International Music Festival and the inaugural Cardiff Music Festival. She gives regular solo and chamber recitals across Britain, and concerto appearances have included works by Glière, Mozart, Handel and Pierné.
Anne is increasingly in demand as an interpreter and performer of new music. She has been premiering and recording new works for solo harp since 2006, and in 2013-14 worked with Sally Beamish on a video project of her work for solo harp, Awuya. Anne is a founding member of award-winning contemporary quartet, The Hermes Experiment, who regularly commission new works and arrangements for their idiosyncratic combination of instruments (clarinet, soprano voice, harp and double bass), as well as performing live free improvisation. Anne also very much enjoys working with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.