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New appointees at Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama has appointed Kathryn Rees as its new Head of Harp, following the retirement of Caryl Thomas.

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Published on 23/08/2022

Kathryn is a passionate advocate of exploring the varied potential of the harp, drawing on its traditional/classic roots but looking outwards at its contemporary possibilities.

'We are delighted that the baton is being passed from Caryl to Kathryn Rees who already has a close working relationship with RWCMD, both in our Junior Conservatoire and Senior College. Kathryn has a fantastic reputation as a teacher with her students garnering praise and success internationally.

We’re excited by her vision for the next generation of harpists at RWCMD; one that will both celebrate the national instrument of Wales and that will embrace a breadth of diverse genres and styles. Caryl Thomas has been an inspiring and passionate Head of the Harp department at RWCMD and she will be greatly missed, her profile as a player and as a teacher, her knowledge and expertise has left a great legacy, which was seen on an international scale and it couldn’t have been more fitting that her last role in running the department was bringing the World Harp Congress to the College.

In her final week at the College, Caryl welcomed the 14th World Harp Congress to RWCMD as chair of the host committee. World Harp Congress, brought harpists from 42 countries together, promoting harp music internationally with concerts, workshops and seminars embracing all aspects of harp music and performance, the first time WHC has been to Europe in 14 years.'

Tim Rhys-Evans
Director of Music

'I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to lead the Harp department at RWCMD.

After forging such a close relationship with the department over many years, it’s particularly exciting to be able to inspire and nurture the next generation of leading harpists.'
Kathryn ReesHead of Harp

'Following the departure of Angela Livingstone as Head of Opera and Vocal Performance and John Fisher as Artistic Director of the David Seligman Opera School, the College has appointed James Southall as Interim Music Director for the David Seligman Opera School, and Mary King as Interim Head of Vocal Studies for the academic year 2022/23.

James’s association with RWCMD and his experience in the opera profession make him a very exciting appointment and I look forward to working closely with him over the next academic year. James will be taking a sabbatical year from his role with the music staff at WNO to enable him to take up this role, which is another sign of the strength of the relationship between our two organisations.

Mary’s experience as a singer, performer, educator and broadcaster, plus her passion for the voice and the development of singers, make her the perfect person to take on this role. Her reputation is an international one and I’m thrilled to be able to welcome her to RWCMD shortly. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Angela Livingstone once again for everything she has done for Vocal Performance and Opera at RWCMD. Under her leadership, the department has gone from strength to strength to become a centre of excellence for vocal and operatic training.'

Tim Rhys-Evans 

Editors notes

Kathryn Rees has been a tutor at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama for the past fourteen years, specialising in harp technique. Past and current students have achieved great success at competitions both nationally and internationally.

After graduating from the Royal Northern College of Music, Kathryn studied her Masters in Harp Performance and Literature at the Eastman School of Music, Rochester, New York. She completed her studies on a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholarship.  After a season as Principal Harp at the Heidelberg Opera Festival, Kathryn worked as a freelance orchestral harpist in New York state and taught as Senior harp instructor at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan.

Kathryn has enjoyed a varied performing career, presenting recitals in Canada, the US, UAE and Qatar and freelanced orchestrally here in Wales, most notably with Welsh Sinfonia. Kathryn teaches an extensive studio of private students and is frequently in demand for masterclasses and adjudicating at competitions.

James Southall
James has conducted with leading opera companies and orchestras including Welsh National Opera, English Touring Opera, Sinfonia Cymru, L’Orchestra Haydn di Bolzano e Trento, Camerata Nordica and Opéra de Baugé.

Alongside his work at WNO, James has been a coach at RWCMD since 2013, conducting the Opera Gala with the WNO Orchestra in 2018.

At WNO he has been assistant conductor to WNO Conductor Laureate Carlo Rizzi, Lothar Koenigs and Tomáš Hanus.
An award-winning pianist, he has performed recitals at Wigmore Hall, Cadogan Hall and live on BBC Radio 3. He has also collaborated with Sir Bryn Terfel CBe, Rebecca Evans, Elizabeth Watts and Ailish Tynan.
James was Organ Scholar at Queens’ Cambridge and is an alumnus of the Royal College of Music.

Mary King
Mary’s career has encompassed a wide range of roles, including that of performer, teacher, coach, broadcaster and writer. A popular and highly experienced mezzo soprano, Mary has worked with leading conductors and numerous orchestras across the world and has made a particular feature of the contemporary classical repertoire. Mary’s experience of leading organisations focussed on the training of young singers have included ENO’s the Knack, Southbank Centre’s Voicelab and the Glyndebourne Academy.

Equally at home in Musical Theatre, she teaches in this discipline at the Royal Academy of Music, Arts Ed and is a vocal consultant for several West End shows. She is also a regular broadcaster on both radio and television and in 2007, she co-wrote The Singer’s Handbook, published by Faber.

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