Biography

Since 1990 Sioned has combined her position as Principal Harpist of the BBC Symphony Orchestra with recitals, concerti, broadcasting, recording, researching and teaching both in the UK and abroad.

Best known for her solo work, Sioned constantly expands her repertoire by researching and editing inaccessible music, and commissioning and premiering new works; her performances at prestigious festivals and venues have gained her international recognition.

Sioned has performed all the major concertos, as well as more unusual repertoire in major concert halls, on radio and live on television; a small selection includes: Debussy’s Danses Sacrée et Profane with The City of London Sinfonia, Panufnik’s Sinfonia Concertante for flute and harp, and Alwyn’s Lyra Angelica with the BBC Concert Orchestra; Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp, and Henze’s arrangement of C.P.E. Bach’s I Sentimenti with William Bennett and the ECO. Sioned has appeared frequently with BBC NOW, most notably in several performances of Mathias’s Harp Concerto and his Melos for flute and harp; live on TV playing Thomas’s Adagio for Harp and Strings, and most recently, in Saint-Saëns’s Morceau de Concert. With the BBCSO, she recorded Martin’s Petite Symphonie Concertante, and the slow movement of Rodrigo’s Concerto Serenata for a DVD. She also performed Glière’s Concerto with The Stavanger Symphony Orchestra in Denmark. In recent times, Sioned gave the UK premiere of Wolfgang Rihm’s Musik fur Harfe und Orchester with Sinfonia 21, Josef Jongen’s Harp Concerto, and William Alwyn’s Lyra Angelica with the BBCSO. The world premiere of  Amir Mahyar Tafreshipour’s BBC commissioned concerto A Persian Reflection which was performed with the BBCSO in February 2006 was very highly praised. All concertos were broadcast on radio.

Particularly well-known for her work with choirs, Sioned has performed music by Liszt in Hungary with The Liszt Choir, premiered a work by Ridout with the choir of Christchurch, Oxford; played Janáček, Rands, Britten and Malcolm Hawkins with the BBC Singers, and Bernstein with Westminster Abbey and with The Bach Choir. Regular performances of Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols include Winchester Cathedral, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Cantamus, King’s College Cambridge, Clare College, Cambridge, The Sixteen and Tenebrae.  Sioned was highly praised for her performance of Janacek’s Octenas with the BBC Symphony Chorus in a late night Prom in 2004, and in 2005, Warner Classics issued a CD of this performance. The April 2005 BBC Music Magazine included a CD of Holst’s Rig Veda with Sioned and the BBC Singers, and in the 2007 Prom season, Sioned performed Brahms with the BBC Symphony Chorus. Sioned has given recitals with many singers and instrumentalists including Michael Chance, Martyn Hill, Steven Isserlis, Neil Mackie, Aurèle Nicolet, Mark Padmore, Andrew Watts, Jeremy Huw Williams and Roderick Williams.

Many of Sioned’s commercial recordings on Hyperion, EMI Classics, Collins Classics, Meridian and Proudsound have won awards and accolades. Apart from her solo CDs, she has partnered James Galway, The Holst Singers, Lisa Milne, Anthony Rolfe-Johnson, Frederica von Stade, The Choir of Kings College Cambridge, The Sixteen, Westminster Cathedral Choir, and Winchester Quiristers on disc.

For Trinity College of Music, Sioned devised the renowned Professional Studies Course for Harpists, and holds the position of Senior Fellow in Harp Studies there. In July 2003, Sioned received her fourth fellowship, from the Royal Academy of Music, for her contribution to music. In Spring 2005, Sioned was a consultant for the Geneva Conservatoire of Music in setting up a comprehensive harp department there, as well as being the harp specialist choosing a Head of Harp for the college. Sioned’s recent Master-classes include the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, an International Summer School in Southern Ireland, at The Royal Academy of Music and The Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Sioned frequently adjudicates competitions and award schemes -she was on the panel for the string final of the BBC Young Musician of the Year in February 2004 (on BBC 4 TV), and writes articles and reviews; she has composed sight-reading for the ABRSM, and selected music for their diplomas. In 1999 Sioned became the first Welsh member of the prestigious Board of Directors of the World Harp Congress, and has just been made President of the UKHA. At the end of 2003, Sioned was the first harpist to perform in Iran since the revolution. The solo recitals of music from nine countries and four centuries were sold out, and she received a standing ovation and outstanding press interest.

Enjoying a varied career, Sioned has appeared hundreds of times on radio and television, including documentaries and ‘chat shows’ in Britain and abroad. Her BBC Radio 4 series Affairs of the Harp was repeated on BBC World Service. Sioned has an interest in words and music and appeared with Richard Burton in Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood, with Joan Bakewell and Edward Fox in an evening of T.S.Eliot, with the group Irish Heritage in entertainment from some of the finest Irish poets and musicians, and in readings by living Welsh poets including Dylan Thomas’s daughter. Sioned’s own scripted story John Thomas, Harpist to Queen Victoria was performed nationwide with the RSC actor Peter Jeffrey.

At the start of her career, Sioned enjoyed performing in chamber groups such as Endymion, Divertimenti, Gemini, Park Lane Music Players, Spectrum, Uroboros, and Berlin Philharmonic Ensemble. At 17, she was working with professional orchestras, and during the years immediately following full-time study, she mainly worked with The Philharmonia and The London Sinfonietta as Principal Harp. During this period she won countless competitions and awards including Park Lane 20th C. Young Musicians, ISM,
Countess of Munster Musical Trust, Boise and Mendelssohn Musical Foundation, and Concert Artists Guild (NY).

FULL CURRICULUM  VITAE

SIONED WILLIAMS    HARPIST

60 Friern Mount Drive, Whetstone, London N20 9DL

Tel: +44(0)208 446 1346     07810648658

Email:sionedwilliamsharp@mac com

 

Titles and qualifications:

Hon.FTCL; FRAM; FWCMD; Dip.RAM; LRAM; LWCMD.

Principal Harpist BBC Symphony Orchestra

Emeritus Senior Fellow in Harp Studies, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance

President, United Kingdom Harp Association

 

Date and place of birth: 1/7/53   Mancot, Flintshire, North Wales, U.K.

Home and schooling: Sychdyn and Mold, Flintshire

Languages spoken: Welsh, English and some Farsi

Married

 

The lists below show the main areas of work and a selection of the artistes Sioned has been involved with since the start of her career.

 

Orchestral Experience:

Present position: Principal Harpist BBC Symphony Orchestra since March 1990

 

Professional career began aged 17 with Ulster Symphony Orchestra

 

While a student at the Royal Academy of Music worked regularly with the London Symphony Orchestra and The Philharmonia

 

Held posts of Acting Principal Harpist with London Sinfonietta (for approx. four years) and New Philharmonia Orchestra (for approx. one and a half years)

 

Regular appearances with the following orchestras since about 1977:

London Symphony Orchestra

London Philharmonic Orchestra

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

City of London Sinfonia

Philharmonia

London Sinfonietta

City of Birmingham Symhpony Orchestra

Scottish National Orchestra

BBC Philharmonic Orchestra

BBC Concert Orchestra

BBC Radio Orchestra

BBC ‘Big Band’

Royal Ballet

Festival Ballet

Royal Opera

English  National Opera

Welsh National Opera

Scottish National Opera

Academy of St. Martin in the Fields

Orchestra of St. John’s Smith Square

English Chamber Orchestra

Chamber Orchestra of Europe

Wren Orchestra

Numerous regional and festival orchestras

West end shows, theatre orchestras, film and commercial orchestras

 

 

 

 

Composers and conductors

As member of BBCSO all the conductors since 1990 and many of the finest composers in the world, providing advice and editing harp parts for many publishers. As a soloist worked with the finest conductors and composers also. Please see biography.

 

 

 

Chamber Music

Berlin Philharmonic ensemble

Circle

Divertimenti

Endymion

Gemini

Grosvenor ensemble

Koenig ensemble

Music Projects London

Nimrod Harp trio

Park Lane Music Players

Spectrum

Uroboros

 

Choir and Harp with King’s College Cambridge, Clare College Cambridge, Cantamus, Winchester Cathedral, Winchester Quiristers, Westminster Abbey and Cathedral, St. Paul’s Cathedral, The Bach Choir, BBC Singers, Liszt Choir Budapest, The Sixteen, The Holst Choir, Tenebrae, Oxford Voices

 

Flute and Harp with William Bennett, Michael Cox, Paul Edmund Davies, Christine Messiter, Susan Milan, Aurele Nicolet

 

Voice and Harp with Michael Chance, Martyn Hill, Neil Mackie, Lisa Milne, Mark Padmore, Anthony Rolfe-Johnson, Andrew Watts, Roderick Williams

Some less common combinations including:

piano and harp with Allan Schiller

oboe and harp with Malcolm Messiter

cello and harp with Steven Isserlis

 

 

Work with actors/readers

Drury Lane Theatre with Richard Burton in ‘Under Milk Wood’ (Dylan Thomas)

‘The Life of John Thomas’ with Peter Jeffrey (RSC)

Irish Heritage –readings and music of Irish composers and authors

Improvised solo harp backing to religious readings on radio 4

Solo playing in Poetry Society performances; with Richard Burton, Hywel Bennett and others in ‘Under Milk Wood; in ‘How Pleasant to meet Mr Eliot’ with Edward Fox and Joan Bakewell; backing Aeronwy Thomas (daughter of Dylan Thomas) in readings of Dylan Thomas’s work.

 

 

Broadcasting

Regular concerts with BBCSO on radio and television.

Solo- Hundreds of broadcasts on BBC Radio 3 since 1977, (including speaking on In Tune) many ‘live’ performances including solos, duos, ensembles and concertos.  Radio 2 and 4 including documentaries and ‘chat shows’. Own series on Radio 4 ‘Affairs of the Harp’ repeated on World Service; Woman’s Hour. Additional radio broadcasts include Radio 1, Capital Radio, LBC, Radio London, countless regional stations in the UK, CBC in Canada, WQXR and others in USA, and stations in other countries. Frequent television appearances, regional and national, as solo performer, guest speaker and in master-classes. Programmes (many in the Welsh language) on Radio Wales, Radio Cymru, BBC Wales, HTV, S4C

 

 

 

 

Recordings

Many of Sioned’s commercial recordings have won awards and accolades. Apart from her solo CDs, she has partnered a wide range of artistes including James Galway, The Holst Singers, Lisa Milne, Anthony Rolfe-Johnson, Frederica von Stade, The Choir of Kings College Cambridge, The Sixteen, Westminster Cathedral Choir, Oxford Voices and Winchester Quiristers on disc: 
Collins Classics, EMI Classics, Guild, HMV/V&A, Hyperion, Philips, Proudsound, Meridian, Warner Classics, Chandos

 

 

Publications edited/ Own compositions/Editions

Four New Lessons for Harp by John Parry  SALVI  1982

Spiders by Paul Patterson  UNIVERSAL EDITION 1985

Suite BWV 1006a by J.S.Bach  OUP 1986

Wessex Graves by Michael Berkeley  OUP 1986

Fiesta by Judyth Knight   LOPES 1988

A Garland of Carols by Anthony Bolton  FABER 2010

Atgofion by Sioned Williams (awarded first prize for a composition for harp at the International Harp Week in Holland in 1973) ASTUTE MUSIC 2013

Serenade and Dance by Sioned Williams (composed in memory of Renata Scheffel-Stein in 1986) ASTUTE MUSIC 2013

Dozens of orchestral harp parts for composers and publishers

 

 

 

Extensive Research on/lecturing on

J.S.Bach:   Suite BWV 1006a

Benjamin Britten: Life and works

John Parry: Life and works

John Thomas: Life and works

John Parry Blind Welsh harpist: Life and works

Harp and harpists in/from Wales throughout the centuries

(many of these include performing original works, and presentations by ‘power point’ of carefully researched related material)

 

Creative programming for solo harp/voice and harp

Original English compositions works for harp

Original Welsh compositions works for harp

The lesser-known works of Alphonse Hasselmans

A portrait of folk–music (the use of folk-music as inspiration for/in original works for harp throughout the centuries and from all over the World)

Original Music for harp from around the world

‘New for me performed for you’ New and unusual works for harp composed originally for Sioned showing the widest variety of compositional styles and harp techniques

‘The Stars Have Withdrawn their Shining’ (Stimpson) a concert based on Ruskin’s philosophy of music—works interspersed with quotations for Ruskin

‘Dylan’ (Stimpson) A work for baritone and harp as central to a concert of works connected by words or music

 

The above are only a sample of the programmes Sioned produces/performs

 

 

Prizes and Scholarships

Concert Artists Guild Award (USA) First harpist and first British musician to win in 38 years

Pernod Award

Idloes Owen memorial Prize

William Rushworth Memorial Trust

Countess of Munster Musical Trust

Lesley Regan Prize

Vivian Dunn Prize

Boise and Mendelssohn Musical Foundation

Worshipful Company of Musicians Allcard Grant

Park Lane 20th Century Young Artists Competition

Maisie Lewis Young Artists Fund

British Council Grant

British Arts Council Scholarship

Welsh Arts Council Scholarship

Incorporated Society of Musicians Young Artists Award

Greater London Arts Association Young Musician Award

Live Music Now!

Heinz and Anna Kroch Foundation

 

 

 

Qualifications and awards

Licentiate Welsh College of Music and Drama  1974

Licentiate Royal Academy of Music  1974

Postgraduate Diploma Royal Academy of Music  1976

Honorary Fellowship Trinity College London  1997

Fellowship Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama  1998

Senior Fellow in Harp Studies Trinity College of Music  1999

Fellowship Royal Academy of Music  2003

Emeritus Senior Fellow of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance 2013

 

Listings

Who’s who in the world

Who’s who in women

Who’s who in music and musician’s diary

British Music Year Book

The Harp -Roslyn Rensch

The Harp in Wales -D.Roy Saer

The Welsh in London 1500-2000 – edited Emrys Jones

 

 

Musical Membership and affiliations

Musicians Union; Incorporated Society of Musicians; Musician’s Benevolent Fund; Welsh Music Guild; Sound and Music; Cymdeithas Cerdd Dant; Gorsedd Y Beirdd;  American Harp Society; World Harp Congress (elected and served as first Welsh member on Board of Directors in 1999) United Kingdom Harp Association (President since 2007)

 

Teaching (since 1971)

Ysgol Maes Garmon

Purcell School

GSMD Junior Department

RCM    Junior Department

RAM   Intermediate School and Senior Department

Trinity College of Music (Head of Harp Department 1994 -1999; Senior Fellow of Harp Studies 1999-2013, Emeritus Fellow Trinity Laban 2013-)

NYOGB; Irish-German ww brass and harp course, Ireland ; Coleg Telyn Cymru; Stowe School; Benslow Harp course; Parish-Alvars Festival Course; Camac Harps, France; Boston Berklee College of Music and Boston University. Visiting Professor at Guildhall School of Music and Drama 2012-13. Renowned for devising the first ever integrated harp course in UK (for Trinity College of Music) to extend knowledge around the harp and general music (similar courses now in use throughout UK), and for devising similar course for Geneva Academy of Music and heading panel for choosing Head of  Harp department there.

 

Examining

Most British Music Academies and Colleges

 

Adjudicator/Panelist

Hallé and Trondheim Symphony Orchestra Harp Position (devised audition repertoire, and harp specialist member of panel), Trinity College of Music and Geneva Conservatoire of Music advisor for interview/audition process for Head of Harp and specialist on panel

 

Competitions and Award schemes panelist

BBC Young Musician of the Year, Eisteddfodau, Nansi Richards Award

Belgrade International Festival; Musicians Benevolent Fund

 

Master-classes on harp courses throughout Britain and elsewhere including NYOGB, RAM, RCM, GSMD, Birmingham Conservatoire, Morley Harp Galleries, Benslow Harp Course, Parish Alvars Festival, Liszt Academy Budapest, Boston and New York USA

 

Reviewing/Articles/Composition

Reviewing harp music, CDs, harp recitals, and writing articles for specialist music magazines including Music Teacher, ISM Journal, Classical Music Forthnightly, American Harp Journal, World Harp Congress Review, UK Harp Association.

Composed sight-reading tests for The ABRSM Grade exams, and chose the syllabus for Diplomas.

Specialist board for grade exams discussion for the ABRSM