Born in Wales in the United Kingdom in the village of Crymych, in Pembrokeshire, Claire Jones started playing the harp when she was only ten years old. By 16, she had enough skill and proficiency to play in front of the Duke and Queen of Edinburgh. Jones then furthered her craft at the harp by studying at the prestigious Royal Academy of Music in London.
In 2012, she married her fellow musician Chris Marshall, whom she met while studying at the Royal Academy of Music. Together, the couple founded the Claire Jones Concert Ensemble, whose goal is to help students and professional harpists alike have a high-level output for their skills. The Ensemble plays a wide variety of concerts for some of the most distinguished audiences in the world and is considered one of the UK’s best harp ensembles.
Claire Jones’ claim to fame was a title that few could ever hope to have: she was the Official Harpist to the Prince of Wales, a title she held from 2007 to 2011. But before you think that she’s merely a musician in residence, it’s not that simple! The title is an actual, full-blown position in Britain’s Royal Household. You can call it a deep-rooted tradition, as Welsh harpists have always been preferred in the royal household for hundreds of years. Prince Charles revived the tradition in 2000, after being vacated since 1871.
After stepping down from the position in 2011, Claire Jones then focused on other projects. Among her most noteworthy recordings are Touching Gold (Kissan Productions, 2008), Harp Concertos (Sigmund Records, 2010), The Girl With The Golden Harp (2012), Live at Classic FM: Sir James Galway & Claire Jones (Global Radio, 2013), and Journey: Harp To Soothe The Soul (Silva Screen Records, 2015).
Perhaps her most acclaimed work, however, is Highgrove Suite, released in 2010. It was a contemporary classical harp concerto conducted by Patrick Hawes. Commissioned by Prince Charles himself, the album was to help celebrate the gardens at his home at Highgrove House in Gloucestershire. Claire Jones played with the full Philharmonia Orchestra for the performance, which was attended by Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall and performed in the home’s Orchard Room.
Aside from her recording engagements, Claire Jones spends a good amount of time as co-founder and musical director at the Claire Jones Concert Ensemble with her husband. Thus far, the ensemble has hosted many of the UK’s best young harpists, including young professionals and scholars from her alma mater, the Royal Academy of Music.
Did You Know?
In 2013, Jones was diagnosed with a condition known as myalgic encephalomyelitis or ME. It’s a long-term medical condition that affects the body’s fatigue levels. People with this condition suffer from worse after-effects resulting from even the most routine mental or physical activity. In simpler terms, people with ME get tired way more from doing seemingly routine tasks.
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