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16 July 2024
St Asaph Experience

John Hosking (organ of St Asaph Cathedral)
Olivia Hunt (soprano)
Bethan Griffiths (harp)
Xander Croft (violin)

In the latest release in Willowhayne Records' acclaimed Experience series, organist John Hosking is joined by soprano Olivia Hunt, violinist Xander Croft and harpist Bethan Griffiths in a varied programme from St Asaph Cathedral.

With two world premiere recordings of the music of John Hosking, the recording also includes music by J.S. Bach, Léon Boëllmann, Lili Boulanger (her beautiful Pie Jesu) and Sigfrid Karg-Elert's Symphonic Chorale 'Nun ruhen alle Wälder'.


Johann Sebastian Bach: Prelude and Fugue in C major, BWV 547 I. Prelude II. Fugue

Craig Sellar Lang: Introduction & Passacaglia in A minor André Fleury: Variations sur un Noël Bourguignon Léon Boellmann: Ave Maria John Hosking: Toccata in F sharp minor Guillaume Connesson: Toccata for solo harp Léon Boellmann: Ave verum corpus Lili Boulanger: Pie Jesu John Hosking: In the halls of our patronage Sigfrid Karg-Elert: Symphonic Chorale, Op.87 No.3 'Nun ruhen alle Wälder' Marcel Dupré: Toccata (Symphony No.2, Op.26)

Recorded in St Asaph Cathedral, Wales, UK on 21st & 22nd November 2018
Booklet Design: Willowhayne Records
Front Cover Photograph: John Liston Recording Engineering and Production: Mark Hartt-Palmer
Associate Producer: John Balsdon
Total Time: 78.24
Release Date: November 2019

John Hosking (organ)John Hosking is Director of Music at Holy Trinity, Southport, following fourteen years as Assistant Director of Music at St Asaph Cathedral. He is also one of the organists for the BBC's Daily Service.

A student at the Royal College of Music, John became Organ Scholar of Westminster Abbey in 1996 and is the only person to ever hold this post for a period of three years.  During this time, John played the organ for many Royal and State occasions, broadcast for the BBC and played twenty solo recitals in the Abbey.

In much demand as a recitalist and accompanist, John appears on several commercially available CDs, the most recent being Musick to Heare for the Willowhayne Records label with his duo partner, soprano Olivia Hunt. John and Olivia specialise in promoting Italian and English song from the 16th and 17th centuries, with a busy schedule of performances throughout the UK. They have been broadcast seven times on the BBC's Introducing scheme. As a solo recitalist, John made his debut recital at Notre-Dame Cathedral, Paris in 2015 and has played in most of the UK's major venues.

Increasingly active as a composer, John has completed commissions for Bangor, Chester and Peel Cathedrals, St Martin-in-the-Fields and the Conwy Music Festival. His Requiem was premiered in the 2013 North Wales International Music Festival and his large-scale work, The Seven Trumpets premiered in December 2013. John's new setting of the Requiem, 'Missa pro defunctis' was premiered on the opening night of the 2016 North Wales International Music Festival. The Choir of Selwyn College Cambridge together with the Ely Cathedral Girls' Choir have released a complete disc of his choral works for Regent Records to critical acclaim. John's largest work for organ, The 14 Stations of the Cross (commissioned as part of Sebastian Thomson's Angels of Creation series) has been released on the Convivium label; this recording was Editor’s Choice in Organists’ Review magazine. His new Toccata for organ is published by Banks Music, with the remainder of his compositions published by Chichester Music Press.

Olivia Hunt (soprano)Olivia Hunt began singing as a Chorister of Chester Cathedral, culminating her time there as Head Chorister. As a member of the Cathedral Choir, she took part in numerous television and radio broadcasts, both as a soloist (notably the televised Christmas Day Eucharist from the Cathedral in 2009) and as part of the choir. In 2009, Olivia was a finalist at BBC Radio 2’s Young Chorister of the Year competition, singing at St. Paul’s Cathedral. She has studied with Edward Hartwell-Jones, Damian O'Keeffe and has also had a consultation lesson with Dame Emma Kirkby.

Olivia graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with a First-Class honours degree in Biomedical Science. In 2013 she made her solo debut in the North Wales International Music Festival, returning in 2015 to sing the soprano solos in the Mozart Requiem and 2016 to sing a variety of works on the Festival's opening night. She opened the 2017 Conwy Festival, took the part of Dido in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, sang the soprano solo parts in Haydn's Nelson Mass and Handel's Messiah and gave a solo recital in the 2018 Beaumaris Festival. She has also performed solo recitals in Truro and Bristol Cathedrals.

Olivia appears as the soloist in John Hosking's Requiem on the Regent CD All Angels Cry Aloud with the Choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge. She has been broadcast seven times on the BBC's Introducing scheme and interviewed live on the Radio Wales Arts Show.

Olivia was the recipient of the 2018 Worshipful Livery Company of Wales Sickle Foundation Award for services to Welsh music, performing a commissioned work at the Cardiff Senedd in a concert to mark the Diamond Jubilee of the Company. She is also a Verger and Deputy Lay Clerk at Chester Cathedral and sang with the choir for a live broadcast of Choral Evensong on BBC Radio 3 in September 2018.

Olivia has an early music partnership with John Hosking, focusing on Italian and English song from the 16th and 17th centuries. She has released her first solo disc Musick to Heare with John for the Willowhayne Records label to critical acclaim and they have recently performed a concert as part of the Londong International Exhibition of Early Music.

Bethan Griffiths is an award winning harpist based in North Wales and London. She gained a First Class Honours Degree from the Royal College of Music in 2017, studying with Bethan Griffiths (harp)internationally renowned harpist Ieuan Jones. She returned to the RCM for postgraduate studies as an Ashley Family Foundation Scholar and recently graduated with a Master of Performance with Distinction. Upon completing her studies she was awarded the prestigious Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother Rosebowl award.

Bethan's musical training began aged 7 with piano lessons before beginning to play harp aged 10. She later went on to achieve her ABRSM performance diplomas in both harp and piano and since then has performed in various venues across the UK, Europe and the USA both as a soloist and as part of a variety of ensembles. Some of the highlights include performances for HRH The Prince of Wales and making her solo debut in the USA performing in Washington DC, Maryland and live on WCVE National Public Radio, Richmond.

As a keen competitor in Eisteddfords, she has won many awards which includes prizes at the Urdd Eisteddford instrumental solo, as well as being chosen as a finalist in the prestigious Blue Riband competition. In 2016 Bethan was awarded the Nansi Richards Scholarship for harpists as well as the RCM Harp Prize. Her most recent success includes receiving 3rd prize in the RCM Concerto Competition in 2019.

Bethan has performed with many orchestras across the UK including City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, NEW Sinfonia and Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra. This has given Bethan the opportunity to work with world renowned conductors including Bernard Haitink, Edward Gardner and Rafael Payare. She has performed in many of the UK's most prestigious venues including the Royal Festival Hall, Buckingham Palace, House of Commons, Cadogan Hall, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Bridgewater Hall Manchester and Symphony Hall, Birmingham. During her studies Bethan was invited to take part in schemes with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and English National Opera working alongside Sioned Williams, Louise Martin and Alison Martin.

Bethan was awarded the Chester Music Society Award for Young Musicians which enabled her to attend the Suonarte Masterclasses in Italy with Emanuela Degli Esposti and Ieuan Jones. She has since participated in masterclasses with many acclaimed musicians including Sylvain Blassel, Marisa Robles, Claire Jones, Isabelle Perrin, Catrin Finch and Jana Bouskova.

Xander Croft (violin)Xander Croft received a Music and Dance scheme Scholarship in 2011 to study violin and piano at the Junior Royal Northern College of Music, where he studied with Ulla Benz and Steven Wilkie, with whom he continues to study.

Xander won the Caerwys Young Musician of the Year competition in both 2014 and 2015, before going on to win the Rotary International Great Britian and Ireland Young Musician of the Year competition in 2016. He has been awarded the Ian McPherson price, the Rohi Gazder price for violin, and the Rotary prize for performance by the JRNCM, before being offered the Albert and Eugene Trust Scholarship to attend the RNCM.

A keen chamber musician, Xander is a member of the Freeman String Quartet. Formed in October 2017, the group became winners of the RNCM Nossek Prize for chamber music in the same year, before being invited to perform in the RNCM Chamber Festival. The group has performed across the UK and became the first quartet in residence at the South Downs International Summer Music Festival in 2018.

As an orchestral musician Xander has performed in prestigious venues which include the Berlin Konzerthaus, Bridgewater Hall and Szczecin Philharmonic Hall. He has led both the National Youth Orchestra of Wales and the JRNCM Symphony Orchestra, and also toured with the International Lutosławski Orchestra.

Xander plays an Italian violin made by Mathias Albani in 1702 which is kindly loaned to him by the RNCM, and a bow made by L. Morizot from the collection of Dr Andrew Winter.

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