Benjamin Creighton Griffiths
Harp Column - March/April 2013 (Volume 21, Issue 5, ISSN: 1083-6128)

HarpColumn interviews Benjamin

Harp Column interviews Benjamin. "Big Ben Welsh wunderkind Benjamin Creighton Griffiths is growing up. Find out why we think the sky is the limit for this young harpist" by Kimberly Rowe.

Also in this issue: From the Editor
A Bright Future by Alison Reese When “where will they be” trumps “where are they now.”

Whenever I come across a “where are they now” story, I get sucked in. It doesn’t matter whether it is one-hit-wonder bands from the ‘80s, actors from bad TV sit-coms, or an update on an old high school friend, I just love to hear their stories. Of course, the best of these where-are-they-now-stories are the child stars. They blow us away with their talent at a young age, but with adulthood and career choices so far in the future, lots can change before they come of age. So you can imagine how excited I was to read this issue’s interview with wunderkind turned teen phenom, Benjamin Creighton Griffiths ............

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Welsh Harpist Benjamin Creighton Griffiths made his international debut in 2004 while still only 7 years old and on that occasion he won second prize in the Under 18 section of the 1er Concours International de Harpe in Nantes, France.

Photo of Benjamin - Lily Laskine Paris September 2008In 2006 he won the Under 13 Competition at the Wales International Harp Festival and in 2008 won the Under 16 competition of the Concours de harpe Lily Laskine, in Paris. His prize was a Salvi Concert Harp.

Since then he has been earning himself an enviable reputation as a young International Performer. As well as performing extensively across the UK he has given many international concerts touring to Brazil, Canada, The Caribbean, Croatia, France, Hungary, Italy, Czech Republic, Netherlands & Spain.

In 2007 he performed at the European Harp Symposium in Cardiff, performing solos and a duet with the Russian Harpist Andres Izmaylov. Following the success of this concert Benjamin was invited to give a concert at the 10th World Harp Congress (Amsterdam, 2008) and soon after that was invited to the 11th World Harp Congress (Vancouver, 2011) to perform both a solo recital and to take part in a Gala Tribute Concert to Ceren Necipoglu who was returning from performing at the Rio Harp Festival, Brazil aboard the Air France plane which crashed in May 2009.

In 2010 Benjamin made his South American debut performing at the V Rio International Harp Festival, Brazil. His concerts were very well accepted and he returned to Brazil for the VI & VII Rio International Harp Festivals in 2011 & 2012.

Nearer to home Ben has performed as a soloist at The Edinburgh International Harp Festival, The Wales International Harp Festival, Summer Harp Festival, The Derbyshire Harp Festival, The Monmouth Festival, The East Anglia Harp Festival, The Trinity Harp Festival, and The Ludlow Festival.

Benjamin is the Principal Harp of the Concert Orchestra de Cymru and Orchestra WestBenjamin is the Principal Harp of the Concert Orchestra de Cymru and Orchestra West and has performed as a concerto soloist with The Welsh Sinfonia, Concert Orchestra de Cymru, Llandenny Strings, Les Alizes, The Cardiff Philharmonic and the orchestra of Le Garde Républicaine. He has also worked as an orchestral musician with the Cardiff University Students Orchestra and the Chandos Symphony Orchestra.

Benjamin is an Official Ambassador for George Thomas Hospice Care, The British Heart Foundation Cymru and St. John Cymru Wales. On 1st March 2010 he performed at Clarence House for HRH the Prince of Wales at a reception for George Thomas Hospice Care. Benjamin has also supported many other charities including Welsh Hearts, Amnesty International, Tsunami Earthquake Appeal, Cancer Research, Macmillan Cancer Relief, Teenage Cancer Trust Wales and Save the Children.

Most of his charity work involves performing in Gala Style concerts which have seen him regularly shared the stage with many Welsh singers & choirs including Dennis O'Neil, Rebecca Evans, Wynn Evans, Beverley Humphries, Cor Godre'r Aran, Cardiff Ardwen Singers as well as the South Wales, Caerphilly, Dunvant, Morriston Phoenix, Treorchy, Caldicot & Cwm Bach Male Voice Choirs.

Gareth Thomas learning to play the harp with a broken armIn 2011 Ben took part in "Born to Shine" (ITV 1) as mentor to Welsh rugby legend Gareth Thomas who learnt to play the harp in 6 weeks. The programme raised over £2,100,000 for Save the Children. Benjamin had previously made two TV programs with the BBC - Take a Bow (2007) and Bobinogs (2008). Other TV appearances include performances at the Urdd Eisteddfod, Carolau Llangollen, Noson Lawen and BBC Children in Need. His radio broadcasts include his performance at the 2006 UK Holocaust Memorial Event, The 1st Wales International Harp Festival and Catrin Finch's BBC Radio 4 documentary Master Harper. He has since been involved in two further BBC Productions, a program with BBC Wales in 2014 about the life of Lady Llanover where he performed as a Welsh Triple Harpist, and Show Me Show Me (2015) for Cbeebies.

Benjamin released his first recording in 2003 - a CD single for BBC Children in Need called Ben Jamming, six years later in 2009 he recorded Britten's "Ceremony of Carols" with the Girl Chorister's of Llandaff Cathedral in aid of the Llandaff Cathedral Organ Appeal. In 2010 he released his DVD "L'Arpa in Villa" a live recording of a concert he gave in Italy in 2009.

Ben at International Harp Festival of Sentmenat (Spain).Whilst continuing his classical work, Ben is now in increasing demand for his jazz performances, working as both a soloist and with bands, singers, and other artists. His jazz repertoire covers all genres, including Swing, Latin, Funk, Electronic and Fusion, Gypsy, and more. For his jazz concerts Ben performs using an Electric Harp, a Nord Stage 2 Keyboard Synth, and numerous effects pedals. Jazz Performances at International festivals include the Vale Jazz Festival, Cambridge Jazz Festival, Glasbury Arts Summer School, East Anglia Harp Festival, Harp on Wight, Wales International Harp Festival, The Edinburgh International Harp Festival, Cardiff Camac Harp Weekend, and Wall2Wall Jazz Festival in the UK and the Prague Harp Festival, Journées Internationales de la harpe dans la Caraïbe, The Dutch Harp Festival, Jazz Harp Academy, and the International Harp Festival of Sentmenat (Spain).

For the last two years he has also been teaching and leading a series of very successful 'Introduction to Improvisation' workshops as both one off events and at Harp Festivals worldwide, aiming to encourage harpists of all ages and abilities into the world of jazz.

CD cover - 1 man bandBen has produced three jazz CDs so far. His first was "An incomplete A-Z of Jazz Harp Music" – released in May 2012. It featured a number of solo, acoustic jazz standards. Then, in 2015, he released “Pedals & Paws” - a CD that featured his first foray into the use of electronics in his jazz performances and also contains the titular jazz suite (Pedals & Paws) written by Ben. His latest CD, “1 Man Band” is a further development of this work. Released in February 2017 it features Ben performing on Harp, Piano, and with synthesisers and keyboards. It is the repertoire on this CD that Ben will be performing during concerts in 2017 and 2018.

Front cover - String BossaBenjamin also continues to add to his sheet music portfolio. His popular “Jazz Harp Series” continues to grow with a selection of solo and group pieces and features a number of very well known jazz standards arranged for harp.

2017 looks set to be a busy year for Ben. Scheduled performances and teaching duties are set to include the Cardiff Camac Harp Weekend (March), The New Orleans Jazz and Pop Harp Weekend (June), and his Asian debut at the 13th World Harp Congress in Hong Kong (July). He is also set to record and perform in the UK with French Gypsy Jazz artists Adrien Chevalier (Violin) and Tatiana Eva-Marie (Vocals) in May. Finally Ben is looking forward to launching a collaborative project called Chube with friend and contemporary Matthew Williams (Percussion). They will be appearing at Harp on Wight (October) as well as scheduling other dates in the latter half of the year. They will also be writing and recording an EP in the summer.

January 2017

Ben's events diary can be viewed here.

Details of Ben's recordings can be viewed here and his sheet music here.

"Your harp recital and talent was outstanding and was greatly appreciated by both us the organisers and your captive audience. You have created quite a buzz and everyone is asking if you will be invited back!" Jenny Vaughan, Chair, Ludlow Festival Society Ltd, June 2009
In August 2009 Ben was invited back - to the 2010 & 2011 Ludlow Festival

Copyright ©2007-2017 Benjamin Creighton Griffiths