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’. Shortly after the release they were also featured by Classic FM, who filmed and released a video containing a selection of items from ‘Reflections’.
Commonwealth Musician of the Year, First Prize and Gold Medal winner of the 2014 Royal Over-Seas League Annual Music Competition, Huw Wiggin is 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 – where he gave recitals and a concerto performance of Eric Coates’s Saxo Rhapsody – as well as those closer to home such as London’s Wigmore Hall. Other past highlights include appearances at Brighton, Newbury, Henley, Ripon and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals. His performance of Milton Babbitt’s Accompanied Recitative was broadcast by BBC Radio 3 on ‘Hear and Now’ to celebrate the composer’s centenary.
Huw is professor of saxophone at the Royal Academy of Music in London and has given master classes at the Royal Northern College of Music, Chetham’s School of Music, NAFA in Singapore and the Universities of Calgary and Lethbridge in Canada. He has also been a member of the judging panel for major competitions including the Royal Over-Seas League Annual Music Competition. A keen educator, he is also an ambassador for the Henley Music School.
‘Reflections’ – Huw’s debut disc (with John Lenehan and Oliver Wass) – was released in June 2018 to great acclaim in the press, reaching no. 6 in the iTunes Classical Chart and no. 2 in the UK Specialist Classical Chart.
As someone who is passionate about travelling, Huw has given concerts on Cunard ships all over the world. He is a regular performer on Cunard’s flagship ocean liners: Queen Elizabeth, Queen Victoria and the Queen Mary II.
Huw’s early studies were at Chetham’s School of Music and the Royal Northern College of Music with Andrew Wilson and Rob Buckland. On graduating in 2008 with a 1st Class honours degree he won a scholarship from the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) to continue his studies with Daniel Gauthier at the Hochschule für Musik, Cologne. Huw completed his studies at the Royal College of Music with Kyle Horch and gained a Master’s Degree with Distinction in 2012. Further prizes and awards early in Huw’s career include the RCM Concerto Prize, a ‘Star Award’ from the Countess of Munster Musical Trust, a Music Education Award from the Musicians Benevolent Fund, the Philip & Dorothy Green Award, a Martin Musical Scholarship and selection as a Park Lane Group Artist.
Huw is a member of the Ferio Saxophone Quartet and regularly performs with them in the UK and abroad. They have been major prize-winners in the UK at the Royal Over-Seas League Music Competition, Philharmonia’s Martins Musical Scholarship Fund, and the Park Lane Group. The quartet signed with Chandos Records in 2016 and has released two highly successful discs for the label: ‘Flux’ in July 2017 and ‘Revive’ in November 2018. Their new collaboration with pianist Timothy End included engagements at Church Stretton Festival and Absolute Classics in summer 2019, and will feature on their third Chandos disc, which they look forward to recording in February 2021.
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.
He 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 a Musicians’ Company Yeoman, and is very grateful for support from the Hattori Foundation.
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.