Emma studied at the Royal Academy of Music with Daphne Boden and Skalla Kanga. Her potential was recognised with sponsorships from the Foundation for Sports and the Arts and the Countess of Munster Musical Trust. She received numerous prestigious prizes including the United Kingdom Harp Association award, the Julia Leney Harp Prize, and the Daphne Boden Harp Prize in the Royal Overseas League Music Competition. She has gone on to perform as a soloist at many major concert venues including the Purcell Room, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Wigmore Hall. Her recent performances overseas include Russia, Denmark, France, Greece and Norway. Closer to home she has made a series of solo recordings for Radio 3's Overture Series and a solo recital on Classic FM's Friday Night Live.
As well as her solo and chamber playing, Emma enjoys a busy orchestral schedule, working regularly with orchestras such as the Philharmonia, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, English National Opera, the London Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Scottish National and the Ulster Orchestra.
Emma's harp has been purchased with the kind help of the Countess of Munster Musical Trust and the Abbado European or Musicians Foundation and the musicians Benevolent loan fund
Since graduating from the Royal Academy of Music with a DIP.RAM, Catherine has sung for opera Northern Ireland, Opera Theatre Company Dublin, Buxton Festival Opera, and the Mananan Festival Opera. She performs regularly in the newly opened waterfront concert hall in Belfast. Her debut performance was with the Ulster Orchestra in December 2001. She has given performances in the Purcell Room, St James Piccadilly and St John's Smith Square. She has given lunchtime recitals for the BBC, Radio Ulster and has recorded recitals for Bavarian Radio Munich, Radio Telefeis Eirann, Radio 4 and Lyric Radio. Television broadcasts include Ulster Television, Sky and BBC 2.
Catherine performs as a soloist and with harpist Emma Ramsdale. She is also a member of the newly-formed Irish singing sensation the Celtic Divas who recently opened the St Patrick's Day parade in New York, where the live audience numbered over 200,000. As part of this trio Catherine has given live interviews and performances on American television and recorded her first album in 2003. Katharine studies with Enid Castle.
Catherine and Emma began working together whilst at the Royal Academy of Music, where they both trained as scholarship students. Since forming their duo they have performed throughout the UK, Ireland and Norway in venues as wide-ranging as the Purcell Room and Armagh Theatre. They have recorded for radio and TV in Northern Ireland where they regularly tour.
Catherine and Emma perform wide-ranging programmes of classical and traditional Irish music
Catherine trained at the Royal Academy of Music with Heather Harper where she won many prizes. Since leaving she has broadcast with BBC Radio 3 and 4 Radio Ulster and Bavarian Radio, has appeared on BBC 2 and Sky Television. She is currently a member of the Celtic Divas who have an album which will be released shortly, prior to their American tour. In recital she has performed at the Waterfront Hall Belfast and Hillsborough Castle. As an operatic soprano she has appeared with Buxton Festival and Opera Northern Ireland.
The duo are very enthusiastic about the role of music
in the community and promote live Music in hospitals, homes, prisons
and schools in England and Northern Ireland
La Lettre du Jardinier - Marcel Tournier (1879-1951)
La Lettre du Jardinier - Marcel Tournier (1879-1951)
The French composer and harpist Marcel Tournier was born in Paris and actually began his studies as a pianist. His father, a maker of string instruments, desired that each of his five sons be taught to play a different stringed instrument. Marcel, showing early musical talent, entered the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied the harp and composition. After only four years of study there with the famous Belgian-born harpist, Alfonse Hasselmans, he won the prestigious Prix de Rome at the Conservatoire. Also, early compositions, under the guidance of Widor, showed Tournier to have a strong feeling for impressionism and romantic melody. Early stage works such as 'Laura and Petrarch' helped to establish his reputation.
But it was as a harpist that Tournier's name is most remembered. He succeeded Hasselmans at the Conservatoire at the age of thirty-three, and remained there until his retirement in 1948. Though he is not well known to the general concert-going public, he has produced a fine body of beautifully-crafted and tuneful works for the harp alone and other short pieces in combination with various instruments and voice.
2 Sonnets - Andre Caplet (1878-1925)
French conductor and composer, André Caplet, was born in Le Havre. His early talent on violin was such that he was invited to play in his local theatre orchestra when he was only twelve years old! He too studied at the Paris Conservatoire where his early promise as a future conductor of national reputation was properly identified and nurtured. In the years that followed, he accepted many conducting appointments, while composing a small but uniquely fine body of expressive small-scale compositions. His songs, and works for flute and for the harp show considerable sensitivity and refinement. He was a close friend of Debussy, who trusted Caplet implicitly as a definitive conductor of many of his works.
Caplet suffered badly as a result of a gas attack during the First World War, forcing him to resign all his conducting posts, and eventually he died at the early age of 47.
Allegro; Andante; Gavotte
Welshman John Parry has been recognised as the most distinguished harpist of his generation in Great Britain. He was blind, but was taught to play the Welsh triple harp by a relative. (see - Brief notes on the Harp in this programme booklet)
His reputation grew quickly - his talents impressing the composer Handel. His playing is also said to have inspired the poet Thomas Gray in the writing of his ode The Bard, and there is some evidence that Parry became harpist to the Prince of Wales - later King George III.
This sonata, part of a set of four sonatas published for the triple harp in 1752, is in similar style to the music of Handel, Corelli or Vivaldi, but contains a hint of Parry's Welsh roots. The second movement is reminiscent of the Welsh tune David of the White Rock.
Folk Songs - Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)
Eugeilio'r Gwenith Gwyn
For most music lovers, Benjamin Britten needs little introduction. Thirty years after his death, his music (while constantly subject to re-evaluation) is still widely performed and enjoyed. The Suffolk coast of his birth remained a constant influence in his music, and it was a love he shared with his life-long friend and companion, the tenor Peter Pears. From the early influence of his teacher Frank Bridge at the Royal College of Music, Britten quickly developed a uniquely individual voice in composition - instantly recognisable even if at times eclectic.
Britten's large folksong collection is divided into three groups. Between the earliest songs (published 1943-47) and the second published group, there was gap of twelve years. The last songs (mostly with guitar accompaniment) appeared in 1961 with a final set of eight songs with harp dating from 1976 - the year the composer died.
Britten nearly always wrote with specific artists in mind. Peter Pears and the soprano Sophie Wyss were the intended artists for most of these songs, specifically to be accompanied by himself (piano), Julian Bream (guitar), or Ossian Ellis (harp) as required. It is likely that it was Pears who first drew Britten's attention to folksong arrangements as encores for their concert performances together. These delightful pieces display the same expressive care in the setting of texts as characterises all Britten's popular operas and stage works.
During the nineteenth century, harp construction was becoming refined and the instrument was becoming more versatile. Harp schools were flourishing in all the principal cities of Europe. Probably the most famous school was founded at the Paris Conservatoire in 1825 by the harpist, F J Naderman. Among Naderman's pupils were Felix Godefroid and his brother Jules. Felix, who was referred to as the 'Paganini of the harp', was the more celebrated. He left the Conservatoire frustrated at the continued use there of single-action harps when new double-action instruments were becoming widely popular. (see Brief Notes on the Harp.)
Godefroid wrote extensively for his instrument, even incorporating a harp fantasy into an opera that he composed in 1858 called The Golden Harp, in which he performed the important off-stage harp solo himself. He also composed technical studies and concert pieces, and in the Etude we are to hear tonight, left hand harmonics are supported by delightful right hand decoration.
18th Century Folk Songs - Jean-Baptiste Krumpholtz (1742-1790)
1) Je voulois Sylvie
Jean-Baptiste Krumpholtz was a significant figure in the harp world of the eighteenth century. In his early thirties he became a composition pupil of Joseph Haydn, and harpist in the renowned orchestra of the Austrian court of Count Esterházy. With Haydn's support, Krumpholtz toured Europe extensively, performing his concertos and sonatas and demonstrating the latest technical improvements made to the instrument. One of these was the important introduction of the new pedal harp system similar to that in use today. (see Brief Notes on the Harp.)
This is another late song cycle by Britten again composed for his close friends, Peter Pears and Ossian Ellis. It dates from 1975 and is a setting of seven poems by the Scots poet Robert Burns (1759-1796). It was commissioned by the Queen for the 75th birthday of the Queen Mother, and within this remarkable set we can hear the sounds and impressions of Scotland resonating not only through the text, but through the music as well.
These are Irish traditional songs which have been handed down in the oral tradition, and notated only relatively recently.
Although Saint-Saëns is remembered mainly, perhaps, for his magnificent symphonic works and concertos, he was deeply committed throughout his life to writing for the voice. Besides a large body of sacred choral music, there are dozens of finely crafted songs. Among these are settings of Victor Hugo, Molière, Tennyson, and even a number of texts written by Saint Saëns himself.
A very aesthetic composer, Saint-Saëns will probably have had a certain influence upon composers such as Ravel. But his influence was naturally most significant on his student Gabriel Fauré.
Rusalka's Song to the Moon is probably the most famous aria in Dvorák's opera Rusalka, which he composed in 1901. (A rusalka is a water spirit which, according to Slav mythology, inhabited lakes and rivers.) The fairy tale on which the plot is based contains certain elements which also appear in Hans Andersen's Little Mermaid.
In this beautifully lyrical Song to the Moon Rusalka, the water spirit, sings to the moon of her love for a human man and her desire to be part of his world. Later in the action, having been forced into a pact of silence by a witch, Rusalka is impelled to kill the man she loves, and the opera then ends in tragedy.
Puccini is a composer who has a following of passionate
devotees. His operas, like Tosca, La Bohème, and Madam Butterfly,
still fill opera houses worldwide.
Schicchi wishes nothing more to do with Rinuccio until Lauretta pleads with her father in the aria "Oh my beloved Father" for his understanding of the depth of their love. As the story develops, Schicchi plots to obstruct Donati's will and thus ensure a secure future for his daughter's fiancé after all.
Notes and articles by Peter Case for South Holland Concerts
(South Holland Concerts acknowledges the assistance
of the artists in providing some points of information on the works
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