Huw Wiggin and Oliver Wass

September 9, 2023 7:30 pm

Since forming their duo in 2016, saxophonist Huw Wiggin and harpist Oliver Wass have continued to develop and refine their programmes of music for this unusual pairing of instruments. Huw and Oliver particularly enjoyed their recent concerts for Absolute Classics and Gower Festival, and have developed a reputation as warm communicators who draw audiences into their intimate and engaging performances.

The duo features on Orchid Classics disc ‘Reflections’ which received a four-star review from BBC Music Magazine and five stars from Robert Hugill, who described the duo as ‘a seemingly unlikely combination that works real magic’. The disc reached no. 2 in the UK Specialist Classical Chart and no. 6 in the iTunes Classical Chart. Shortly after the release they were also featured by Classic FM, who filmed and released a video containing a selection of items from ‘Reflections’.

December 2022 saw the duo release a digital Christmas EP, also with Orchid Classics, featuring arrangements of J. S. Bach by Huw and popular festive tunes arranged by John Lenehan.

Since winning First Prize and Gold Medal and being named ‘Commonwealth Musician of the Year’ at the Royal Over-Seas League Annual Music Competition in 2014, Huw Wiggin has become one of the most popular saxophonists of his generation.

He has performed in venues as far afield as the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing as well as those closer to home such as London’s Wigmore Hall. Other past highlights include appearances at Henley, Brighton, Ryedale, Newbury, Ripon and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals.

Following on from the success of ‘Reflections’, Huw’s second disc for Orchid Classics, a programme of rhapsodies with pianist Noriko Ogawa, is due for release in March 2023.

Huw gained a Master’s Degree with Distinction from the Royal College of Music in 2012, also winning the RCM Concerto Prize. He is now professor of saxophone at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

Huw is a member of the prize-winning Ferio Saxophone Quartet and regularly performs with them in the UK and abroad. Signed with Chandos Records, the quartet has released four discs for the label – ‘Flux’ in 2017, ‘Revive’ in 2018, ‘Evoke’ in 2021 with pianist Timothy End, and ‘Revoiced’ in 2022 with vocal ensemble the Corvus Consort.

Harpist Oliver Wass holds a First Class Masters Degree from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, where he studied with Imogen Barford. He graduated from the University of York with a First Class Honours degree in Chemistry.

He has won the Suoni d’Arpa International Competition in Italy, the Jury Prize at the International Harp Competition in Szeged, Hungary, and Second Prize at the Bromsgrove International Competition. In May 2016 he became the first harpist ever to win the Guildhall Gold Medal – the Guildhall’s most prestigious prize. Previous winners of the competition include Jacqueline du Pré, Bryn Terfel and Tasmin Little.

He has performed every major harp concerto, including Lyra Angelica with the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Mozart Flute and Harp Concerto with The Mozartists at the Wigmore Hall, and he has directed the Handel Harp Concerto in the Barbican Hall. Last season, he gave recitals in Rome, Paris, Budapest, Utrecht and London.

Oliver has given recitals at the Purcell Room and Wigmore Hall, where he was praised by Seen and Heard International for his “tremendous dynamism” and “remarkable range of timbres and warmth of tone”.

He is an experienced orchestral player, and has performed with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia, and the Ulster Orchestra.

Playing with “verve and polish” (The Times), his flute-viola-harp trio, The Pelléas Ensemble, won the Royal Philarmonic Society Henderson Award and the 2017 Elias Fawcett Award for Outstanding Chamber Ensemble at the Royal Overseas League competition. In 2016 they won both the Grand Prize and the Audience Prize in the St Martin-in-the-Fields Chamber Music Competition.

Oliver studied with Charlotte Seale at the Junior Department of the Guildhall, where he became the only harpist to have been a prize-winner in the prestigious Lutine Competition. He was additionally Principal Harp in the National Youth Orchestra. He spent his teenage years making fireworks in his parents’ basement, which is – remarkably – still surviving.

Their programme will be:

Béla Kovács, arr. Wass/Wiggin: Sholem-alekhem, rov Feidman!
Tomaso Albinoni, arr. Wass/Wiggin: Sonata in A minor Sonata in A minor, op. 6, no. 6
Misha Mullov Abbado: Red Ruth
Maurice Ravel, arr. Steve Roberts: Pavane pour une infante défunte
Claude Debussy, arr. A. L. Christopherson and H. Wiggin: Girl with the Flaxen Hair, Preludes Book 1, no. 8
Manuel De Falla, arr. H. Wiggin: 7 Popular Songs (selection)
Barry Cockcroft: Ku Ku
Johann Sebastian Bach, arr. Wiggin: Prelude from Cello Suite no. 2 in D minor, BWV 1008
Johann Sebastian Bach, arr. Wass/Wiggin: Largo, from Violin Concerto in G minor, BWV 1056R
Francisco Tarrega, arr. Wass: Recuerdos de la Alhambra
Andy Scott: Sonata for Saxophone and Harp