Caryl Thomas

Caryl Thomas is widely recognised as one of the most accomplished solo recital harpists of her generation.  She made her American debut in 1981 at Carnegie Hall as winner of the Concert Artists’ Guild Award, and her London debut at the Wigmore Hall a year later. She has performed to critical acclaim throughout the UK, Europe, the USA and the Far East, and her innate musicality is supported by a solid technique and an exceptional ability to communicate with her audience. 

Caryl graduated from the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama and gained a Master’s degree from New York University. Her teachers were Ann Griffiths, Marisa Robles, Pearl Chertok and Susann McDonald. Caryl has been awarded several scholarships and prizes, including a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship, the Silver Medal of the Worshipful Company of Musicians, and an ISM Young Artists Award.  She was the first British harpist to win a major prize at the International Harp Contest in Jerusalem at the age of seventeen. In 1985, William Mathias wrote the Santa Fe Suite for Caryl for her, who premiered it at the Wigmore Hall.

In 1996, Caryl was invited to give a solo recital at the World Harp Congress in Copenhagen. She has been a Concerto soloist with the London Philharmonic, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the Bournemouth Sinfonietta and the Orchestra of St John’s Smith Square, and has appeared twice as concerto soloist with the Mozarteum Orchestra in the Grosses Festspielhaus in Salzburg playing the Gliere Harp Concerto and the Mozart Concerto for Flute and Harp. As Principal Harp with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Caryl worked with eminent conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, Klaus Tennstedt and Bernard Haitink, and played the Bartok Festival at the Royal Festival Hall under the baton of Sir George Solti. She was a member of the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera for Reginald Goodall’s performances of Wagner’s Ring Cycle.

A keen exponent of chamber music, Caryl has been a member of the Prometheus Ensemble, The Debussy Trio, and The Instrumental Quintet of London, which made its debut at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in 1987. She has also appeared in duo recitals with flautists Susan Milan and Jonathan Snowden.

Caryl has performed with Bryn Terfel, Dennis O’Neill, Dame Shirley Bassey and Rebecca Evans. In 2002, she was featured on an album with the Icelandic pop singer, Bjork, and appeared with her on her European tour.

Caryl’s discography includes the Mozart Flute and Harp Concerto with the London Philharmonic and Andrew Litton, a solo recording entitled Claire de Lune, a collection of chamber works with the Prometheus Ensemble named French Impressions, as well as recordings of Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, Rutter’s Dancing Day and an album of Grace Williams’ works. 

Caryl’s broadcasting work includes recitals for BBC Radio 3; and she has hosted three series of her own TV show for S4C.

In 2007, Caryl was Artistic Director of Arpa Viva Cymru, a ten-day harp festival held in Cardiff, which incorporated the 7th European Harp Symposium and the Cardiff European Harp Competition.  

She is a Fellow of the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama and a Trustee of the Ryan Davies Scholarship Fund.

Caryl gives regular masterclasses at home and abroad and is much in demand as a teacher. She was appointed Head of Harp at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in 2011.

In June 2016, Caryl will be a member of the jury at the 10th USA International Harp Competition in Bloomington, Indiana, and will Chair the Artistic Committee of the World Harp Congress when it comes to Cardiff in 2020. Caryl is a member of the Board of Directors of the World Harp Congress.