51 Strings: David Powell & Katherine Thomas
Chapel Arts

51 Strings: David Powell & Katherine Thomas

This Event Takes Place @ Chapel Arts, Cheltenham (Chapel Arts, Knapp Road (Near St. James Square), Cheltenham. GL50 3QQ)

51 Strings made its debut at Chapel Arts last July between one of the temporary lockdowns. They have been playing together for two decades, having met through their work with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and have performed in many different venues ranging from concert clubs and libraries, to pubs and hospitals. They even featured on the Radio 4 programme Case Notes. Today’s concert features some music specially adapted and chosen to suit this versatile combination of instruments with 51 strings between them.

The programme will feature works originally written for this combination by Rubbra and Romberg, and will also include arrangements of Ravel, Haydn, Vaughan Williams, Beethoven and  Bach. Katherine will perform an entertaining piece by Salzedo for solo harp demonstrating the many varied sounds that 47 strings can produce.

David Powell was appointed sub principal cellist with the CBSO by Sir Simon Rattle, a position he still holds today under their music director Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla. He has collaborated with many of the world’s finest conductors and soloists and toured and recorded extensively. In addition he has worked with the Philharmonia, the Royal Philharmonic, the BBC Philharmonic and the London Philharmonic Orchestras.

As a chamber musician David has performed at many festivals and Midland venues with the Bochmann Trio, his cello and harp duo “51 Strings” as well as Trio Severn, of which he is a founder member. He regularly performs in the CBSO’s Centre Stage series of concerts and has appeared there with Elisabeth Leonskaja, Nicolai Lugansky, and Simon Trpceski, Christian Tetzlaff and Daniel Muller- Schott. Educated at Oxford, he studied with Jacqueline du Pre, David Strange, and Bernard Greenhouse of the Beaux Arts Trio, and then went on to teach for over a decade at the University of Nottingham, the city where he grew up. He has served as Chair of the CBSO Benevolent Fund, Trustee for the Cotswold Suzuki Violin Group, and coach for the CBSO Youth Orchestra, the National Schools Symphony Orchestra and the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.

Katherine Thomas was appointed as Principal Harpist of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in June 2020. Prior to her appointment in Birmingham, she played with the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera for over fifteen years, working with soloists such as Bryn Terfel, Juan Diego Florez and Diana Damrau. It was through her work in Cardiff that she met violinist Laurence Kempton and formed the Enigma Duo, and latterly the Enigma Ensemble. Katherine takes great pride in expanding the repertoire for the harp – in a chamber ensemble or as a solo instrument. Her projects for ALAW Music Publishing range from transcribing Bach’s complete Well-Tempered Clavier to realising Danse Macabre for the Enigma Duo. Bringing a whole orchestra of colours to one accompanying instrument is always a challenge, but it is this voyage of discovery which makes life as a harpist such a challenge and delight.

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