Organ Day 2018
Music in Bloomsbury with Organists Online
Organ Day  27 January 2018
3.30 - 5.00

The King of Instruments

Dame Gillian Weir,
Huw Tregelles Williams

Thirty years ago, BBC Television launched their ground-breaking series The King of Instruments, in which Dame Gillian Weir played upon six significant European instruments. Together with Huw Tregelles Williams, she looks back on the making of this series, backed up with examples from the newly releast Priory Records DVDs of the series.

It would be an impossible task to provide an adequate thumbnail sketch of Dame Gillian’s wide and highly successful career within the narrow confines of this page.

 From winning a piano concerto competition back in her native New Zealand in 1960, through a long list of honorary doctorates, fellowships, memberships and many other honours, and a concert and recording career of astounding brilliance, she has earned an enduring place in our hearts and minds.

Recently, she has joined Sir Edward Elgar, Sir Hubert Parry, Ralph Vaughan Williams (OM), Sir Yehudi Menuhin and Lord (Benjamin) Britten in becoming an Honorary Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Musicians.

 Find out more about Dame Gillian at

As Head of Music, BBC Wales, Huw expanded the BBC Welsh Orchestra to a full symphonic complement of 90 players and renamed it BBC National Orchestra of Wales. He engaged with private and public sector sponsors to fund an international touring programme for the Orchestra and its Chorus to major centres in Europe, the USA, Japan and the Soviet Union. Regular CD recording and outreach work throughout Wales were also established. He was executive producer of eleven series for BBC 1 & 2 networks, including three Cardiff Singer of the World competitions and oversaw a large music output on Radio 3 and S4C. In 1998 he was appointed OBE in the New Year’s Honours and a Fellow of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama for service to music in Wales.

He has served as a member of the Arts Council of Wales, the Councils of the Royal College of Organists and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. A frequent adjudicator at the Llangollen and National Eisteddfodau, he has also chaired the juries of the BBC and the Audi Young Musician of the Year competitions.

He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists, winning a performance prize, whilst an undergraduate at Cardiff University and gave several recitals on Radio 3 during two years of postgraduate study before joining the BBC as producer in 1972. He has retained his early enthusiasm for performing: recitals at venues ranging from Sydney Town Hall to St. Paul’s Cathedral and a series on notable instruments throughout Europe televised for S4C in 1987. He played at the inaugural recital at St. David’s Hall in Cardiff and, more recently, gave a number of the first recitals on the new Nicholson organ at Llandaff Cathedral, including the final event of the 2012 Incorporated Association of Organists’ Congress.

As accompanist, he has worked with many leading Welsh choirs and soloists in concert, on television and CD. He has accompanied the Welsh Association of Male Choirs’ Festivals since 1978 and , also at the Royal Albert Hall, he appeared as soloist and accompanist in a special edition of BBC Songs of Praise celebrating the restoration of its Willis organ in 2001.

Huw decided to take early retirement from the BBC after thirty years’ service and to return to his native Swansea where he chaired and directed the Swansea Festival of Music & the Arts (2004-2014) and led a £500,000 restoration of Morriston Tabernacle and its notable 1922 Hill organ. He also served as Board member and Deputy Chairman of Wales Millennium Centre (2004 – 2009) A frequent contributor to Radio 3 and S4C, he remains active as recitalist and accompanist.

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