le miroir de musique

Kirsty Whatley


Kirsty Whatley is a professional early harpist, and as such is one of only a handful based in the UK. She plays copies of harps that trace a history of the instrument across more than three centuries of European music, from Handel through Monteverdi, and back to composers such as Josquin du Prés and Machaut. Her job description includes semi-improvising continuo parts, playing extravagent solos like that in Monteverdi’s Orfeo, performing polyphony on the little-known bray harp, and experimenting with chromatic solutions for the sophisticated music of the late-medieval period. For her, the excitement of these bygone times lies in the beauty of the instruments themselves and in the exploratory, research-based practice of breathing new life into them in modern performance.


Kirsty has played live on BBC Radio 3 and recently recorded CDs with ensembles Tetraktys (Kees Boeke, Italy), the Choir of King’s College London (David Trendall), and Ensemble Leones (Marc Lewon, Germany). Engagements in 2010 included concerts with Anthony Rooley and Evelyn Tubb and at international festivals, such as Laus Polyphoniae Antwerp with Tetraktys, Spitalfields Winter Festival with La Nuova Musica (David Bates), Birmingham Early Music Festival with Le Basile (Uri Smilansky) with the Taverner Consort (Andrew Parrot) and with I Fagiolini (Robert Hollingworth) at the Dartington International Summer School. She has also played continuo for the English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble, The Frolick (Andrew Maginley), and is co-founder of the ensemble In Echo with cornetto player Gawain Glenton. Forthcoming engagements include at festivals in Basel, Zurich, Utrecht and Copenhagen, and CDs of Agricola and early 16th-century Italian repertoire.


Kirsty has a Masters degree in music from the University of Manchester, where she trained in modern pedal harp with Eira Lynn Jones, teacher at the Royal Northern College of Music and harpist with the Hallé orchestra. She worked for several years as a freelance harpist and played with groups such as Moscow City Ballet, before engaging in postgraduate study at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, Switzerland. There she studied baroque triple harp, Renaissance and medieval harps with Heidrun Rosenzweig and continuo with Nicola Cumer. She has also encountered excellent coaching from Frances Kelly and theorbo/lute players David Miller and Hopkinson Smith.