Although born and educated in England,
David Watkins is very much aware of his Welsh heritage, and can re-trace
his paternal ancestry to mid-eighteenth-century Wales.
A strong consciousness of his cultural
heritage led him to live in the heart of Wales for many years, principally
in the Llanfyllin area of Powys. From the standpoint of his musical
links with Wales, he was the first to edit and publish John Parry's
Sonata in D major (Stainer and Bell), and he was the dedicatee of
William Mathias's Three Improvisations (op.10)(OUP). In April 2006,
at the First International Harp Festival held at Galeri, Caernarfon,
he was honoured with a special award given in recognition of his
services to the Harp in Wales. As a composer, his 'Petite Suite'
(UMP), which includes the brilliant Fire Dance, and many more of
his compositions have become an established part of the repertoire
of hundreds of harpists world-wide.
It was in July 2005 that Adlais first
published a composition by David Watkins. This was his moving Passacaglia
In Memoriam Tsunami, performed with great success at the Ninth
World Harp Congress held in Dublin the same month. This piece was
dedicated to Verity Thirkettle, a young harpist from Pembrokeshire,
and it is Pembrokeshire - especially the area around Newport - which
has proved to be the inspiration for A
While still at school, he was a member of the National
Youth Orchestra and a finalist in a Daily Mirror Competition for
young instrumentalists. After studying at the Royal Academy of Music,
a French Government Scholarship enabled him to continue his studies
in Paris. Returning to London, Solti chose him to play with the Orchestra
of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. It was a 'Golden Age' which
included performances by Callas, Sutherland, Schwarzkopf, Fonteyn
and Nureyev. He then became a founder member of the new Welsh National
Opera Company under the direction of James Lockhart and, after a
short time with the Royal Philharmonic, joined the London Philharmonic
under the batons of Boult, Solti, Haitink and Tennstedt.
His solo concerts have taken him all over the world,
performing many of the compositions that have been written especially
for him. He has also performed as soloist with the London Philharmonic,
BBC Philharmonic, Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra, etc. and appeared
as soloist with the London Sinfonietta at the London 'Proms' with
Sir Simon Rattle conducting.
Since winning first prize in an International American
Competition with his composition 'Petite Suite' for Harp, he has
written many pieces including the 'Concertino Pastorale', which he
played with the London Philharmonic at the Royal Festival Hall, Walter
With Princess Grace of Monaco, he devised a recital
of poetry and music for the official engagement of Prince Charles
and Lady Diana Spencer.
In 2000 he was Principal
Harpist at a 'Prom' Concert given by the "World Orchestra for Peace" conducted
by Gergiev. This orchestra was composed of principal musicians
from the world's great orchestras.
have included a performance of his solo harp concerto and his new
concerto for two harps with the Budapest Strings, and a solo recital
attended by the widow of Zoltan Kodály.
He regularly gives concerts and master classes in
France, Germany and Italy as well as the UK and has recently formed
a Duo with the distinguished violinist Michael Bochmann.
His recording of
Ravel's Introduction & Allegro
with the National Philharmonic became a bestseller in the USA, and
other highly acclaimed recordings have been issued by RCA, Meridian
For many years he
was Professor of Harp at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama
and has written a 'Method' for the harp published by Boosey and