Rhett Barnwell has undertaken a varied career as a classical and Celtic harpist, composer, conductor, cellist, French horn player and organist. As a harpist, he has focused on music for healing, sacred and meditative purposes, and has played for numerous events in churches, hospices, nursing homes and hospitals. He has also given concerts throughout the U.S., as well as in Venice, Rome and Florence, Italy, and at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, S.C., with soprano Claire Teuber. He recently gave a concert tour of Ireland with soprano Victoria Lawson, with whom he has recorded and given frequent concerts.
He has been a featured presenter and performer at harp festivals and conferences, including the 2016 American Harp Society National Conference, Southeastern Harp Conference, Somerset Folk Harp Festival, Harp Journeys, Beginning in the Middle, The Harp Gathering and others. He regularly presents workshops and concerts for American Harp Society chapters throughout the U.S. He has organized biannual Liturgical Harp Conferences since 2007 which have drawn harpists from all over the country. He has served on the Board of Trustees of the Historical Harp Society, was the CD Review Editor for the Folk Harp Journal and managed the Atlanta Harp Center for four years. He has been featured in USA Today in collaboration with award winning author Andrea Kay. He is an internationally known composer and has published a number of original works and arrangements for the harp, through Seraphim Music, which are distributed in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia and Asia. He regularly receives commissions from organizations and individuals for new harp works and arrangements.
His career as a French horn player has included performances with orchestras in the U. S. and abroad, including two seasons as Principal Horn with the Spoleto Festival Orchestra in Charleston and Italy, the AIMS Symphony Orchestra of Graz, Austria, Orquesta Sinfonica de Tenerife, Spain, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, South Carolina Philharmonic, Charleston Symphony and others. He has been heard in performances broadcast on Austrian Radio (ORF), Radiotelevisione Italiana (RAI), and National Public Radio (NPR).
As a cellist, Mr. Barnwell has performed with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, the Baroque Orchestra of St. Clare, the South Carolina Philharmonic, and the Emory Baroque Orchestra. He has recorded for the Seraphim Music label and has appeared in two network television movies, “The Tempest”, and “The Hunley”. He has also collaborated with pianist George Skaroulis in concerts and on his CD, “Athena”.
Mr. Barnwell earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Florida State University and a Master of Music degree in French horn performance from Saint Louis Conservatory. At Florida State, he studied harp with Mary Brigid Roman, and has also studied with Sunita Staneslow, Ellen Foster and Monica Hargrave. He pursued Doctoral studies in organ, Gregorian chant, and choral conducting at the University of Georgia. He has also studied Gregorian chant at the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music in Rome, Italy, the Abbey of St. Pierre, Solesmes, France, and Westminster Choir College.
He has served as Director of Music for a number of Catholic, Episcopal and Methodist churches in the Southeast since 1984. In 2007, he led the St. Brigid Catholic Church Choir on a concert tour of Italy, performing in Rome, Assisi, and at the Vatican for Pope Benedict XVI. In 2012 he conducted the Embry Hills United Methodist Church Choir in a concert tour of Ireland.
Soprano, received the Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Furman University in 1993. She performed leading roles in operatic and concert productions at Furman, and has sung throughout the Southeast in churches, concert halls and other venues. She was invited to perform the National Anthem during the Olympic Flag Welcoming Ceremonies in Atlanta in 1996.
Having a strong affinity for choral music as well, Ms. Lawson was a member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus for nine seasons, most of them under the direction late Robert Shaw. She was invited by Maestro Shaw to perform with his Festival Singers at Carnegie Hall in New York in 1997. She appeared again at Carnegie Hall in the Spring of 2005 singing under the baton of John Rutter. She is also a former member of the Dekalb Choral Guild under the direction of Mr. Bryan Black. It is with this group that she was a soloist in the World Premiere performance of Sharon Willis’ “A Celebration Mass”. During a radio interview on Atlanta’s WABE prior to the premiere, the composer hailed Ms. Lawson as having “the voice of an angel”. In 2008, she represented Georgia by being a finalist in the National Vocal Competition sponsored by the American Mothers, Inc.
She is currently the Director of Outreach and Youth Ministries at Embry Hills United Methodist Church, Atlanta, GA, where she is also a member of the Chancel Choir and a regularly featured soloist. She frequently appears in concerts with Mr. Rhett Barnwell, including a recent concert tour of Ireland, and is featured on his recording, “The Lord is My Shepherd.”
Soprano, is a soloist and cantor in Charleston, South Carolina. She holds a Masters degree in Art from the University of South Carolina, where she also studied vocal performance. She is a fourth generation singer in her family; her great-grandmother was a Welsh opera singer and won first prize in the Quartet Competition at the World's Fair in Chicago at the turn of the century. At USC, she sang with the Concert Choir under internationally acclaimed conductor Arpad Darazs. She has composed and recorded her own music and has performed in Rome, Florence and Venice, Italy, and at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival with Rhett Barnwell. She is also featured as a soloist on the Seraphim album, "Noel". As an artist, she has painted a number of portraits and murals in Charleston, creates mosaics and stained glass, and is head of the Art Department at Moultrie Middle School in Charleston, SC.