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Who is Catrin Finch? Everything you need to know about the Welsh harpist

Finch was appointed the first Official Harpist to the Prince of Wales since the reign of Queen Victoria

Published: May 16, 2022 at 1:50 pm

Who is Catrin Finch?

Catrin Finch is a Welsh harpist and composer. She was the Official Harpist to the Prince of Wales from 2000 to 2004 and is currently a visiting professor at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and the Royal Academy of Music in London. As a composer, she has recently undertaken commissions from Ballet Cymru, S4C and the National Eisteddfod of Wales.

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How old is Catrin Finch?

Catrin Finch was born on 24 April, 1980

Where was Catrin Finch born?

Finch was born in Llanon, Ceredigion, in Wales to a half-German mother and an English father.

When did she first learn to play the harp?

Finch began learning the harp at the age of six. Prodigiously talented, she passed her Grade 8 examination at the age of nine, going on to join the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain at the age of ten. She attended specialist music school the Purcell School, before studying at London's Royal Academy of Music with Skaila Kanga.

Where does Catrin Finch live?

Finch lives outside of Cardiff with her partner Natalie, who she married in 2019. She was previously married to music and television producer Hywel Wigley, son of harpist Elinor Bennett, a former teacher of Finch. Wigley and Finch have two children.

What is Catrin Finch famous for?

In 2000, Finch was asked whether she would like to become the Royal Harpist to The Prince of Wales. Prince Charles was interested in reviving the ancient office, last filled during the reign of Queen Victoria, and was impressed by Finch’s achievements, including winning the Lily Laskine International Harp Competition in 1999 and the Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York in 2000 (both while she was a student at the Royal Academy of Music). Finch accepted and continued in the post from 2000 to 2004.

She has performed with many of the best orchestras in the world, including the New York Philharmonic, the Royal Philharmonic, the Boston Pops, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and the English Chamber Orchestra, and has toured throughout Europe, north and south America and the Middle East.

What are Catrin Finch’s best recordings?

In 2009, Finch’s arrangement of Bach’s Goldberg Variations was released on Deutsche Grammophon and entered the UK Classical Charts at number 1. Three years later, Blessing, her collaboration with composer John Rutter also hit the top spot and was nominated for a Classical Brit Award. She has also collaborated with Bryn Terfel, Sir James Galway, Julian Lloyd Webber and composer Karl Jenkins on various recordings, and has released albums of Welsh traditional music, lullabies and, in 2015, a collection of her own compositions called Tides, in support of WaterAid.

In recent years she has expanded beyond core classical music to form a partnership with Senegalese kora player Seckou Keita, with whom she has released two albums, Clychau Dibon (2013) and SOAR (2018). The pair are currently working on a third.

On a personal note…

In February 2018 Finch announced on that she had been diagnosed with Grade 3 breast cancer. She was given the all-clear in October 2018 following treatment, including chemotherapy. She had managed to complete a major UK tour with Seckou Keita while being treated for the condition.

Catrin Finch will appear at the Proms 2022 with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in the premiere of Sally Beamish's 'Hive' on 21 July.

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Photo: Jennie Caldwell

Authors

Charlotte SmithEditor of BBC Music Magazine

Charlotte Smith is the editor of BBC Music Magazine. Born in Australia, she hails from a family of musicians with whom she played chamber music from a young age. She earned a bachelor’s degree in violin performance from London's Royal College of Music, followed by a master’s in English from Cambridge University. She was editor of The Strad from 2017 until the beginning of 2022, and has also worked for Gramophone Magazine and as a freelance arts writer. In her spare time, she continues to perform as an active chamber musician.

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