ELINOR BENNETT studied with Osian Ellis at the Royal Academy of Music, London, after completing a degree in Law, and played with major British orchestras in her early career. Elinor has made many recordings, ranging from 20th Century classics to Welsh traditional music on Triple Harp. Leading composers have written for her, and she directed harp studies at Bangor University. She was awarded OBE for services to music and Honorary Fellowships from the Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff, Universities, Fellowships from Royal Academy of Music and Welsh College of Music and Drama, and an Honorary Doctorate in Music from the University of Wales. She has directed the Thai International Harp Festival, and the Wales International Harp Festival.
Ann was born in mid Wales and was inspired from an early age by her close neighbours Dafydd Roberts the blind harper and Nansi Richards who gave her the first harp lesson. Ann attended a Welsh school in London where she had harp lessons from Anne Ross and Gwendolen Mason. She then studied at the Royal Academy of Music, London with Professor Osian Ellis. Ann became principal harpist with the Icelandic Radio Orchestra and later freelanced with the BBC and London orchestras before joining the RTE Radio Orchestra in Dublin Ireland where she became permanent principal harpist in their Concert Orchestra. Now retired, she delights in teaching.
Paul Dooley is one of the leading exponents of the Irish harp in its historical form and style – using a metal-strung harp, playing with the fingernails and damping unwanted string resonance with the fingertips. His repertoire consists primarily of traditional Irish dance music, which for the most part has been learned from traditional players of other instruments. Paul has also spent recent decades working on the Robert ap Huw manuscript, the oldest collection of harp music in existence. He completed his PhD studies at the University of Limerick in 2017 and the title of his thesis is ‘Harp Tuning Practice in Medieval Ireland and Wales’.
Stephen Rees is a musician who has been deeply involved in the traditional music of Wales for many years. He was a member of the Welsh folk groups Ar Log and Crasdant, with whom he recorded and performed throughout North and South America, Europe and the UK. A founder member of the folk music organisations Clera (1996) and trac (1997), he has taught traditional music workshops throughout Wales. Between 2006 and 2011, he was joint musical director of Y Glerorfa (the Welsh Folk Orchestra). He is a music lecturer at Bangor University.
Judith Utley began her harp study at age 12 in South Dakota, USA. She earned her Bachelor of Music degree in Harp Performance from the University of Northern Colorado, under the tutelage of Suzann Davids, and her Master of Music degree from The Cleveland Institute of Music with Alice Chalifoux. She also pursued post-graduate study and master classes with Susann McDonald. While travelling with a touring ensemble, Judith met her husband, Paul, a career missionary, in Manila, Philippines. After marrying, they were assigned to Bangkok, Thailand in 1983. Judith was principal harpist with the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra for over 20 years, and she has been closely associated with Tamnak Prathom Harp Centre since its inception in 2002. Currently living in Chiangmai, Judith teaches in the College of Music at Payap University.