- e'en in the midst of life, we are in music

Kirsty Whatley is one of only a handful of harpists to work professionally as a historical harp and continuo player, working on copies of instruments from the Renaissance and Baroque eras. She can be heard internationally with some of Europe's most renowned specialist early music ensembles. She trained in Manchester and Switzerland, and now lives in beautiful Dorset in the south of England.

Kirsty trained initially on modern harp, and has an MMus from the University of Manchester, where she studied harp with Eira Lynn Jones, (Halllé Orchestra/Royal Northern College of Music). She spent some time as a freelance classical harpist, working with groups such as Moscow City Ballet; however, her desire to move away from the "fluffy" romantic image still often associated with the harp led her first to ever-more modern music (her article on Berio's harp 'Sequenza II' is published in a book by Ashgate, and she premiered Andrew Keeling's 'Sacred Time' for solo harp), and then back to the harps and music of earlier times. In 2004 she started postgraduate study at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel, Switzerland. There she specialised in historical harps, and now works predominantly as an “early” harpist. As such, she plays copies of instruments that trace its history across more than four centuries, from the early 1700s back to 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 works with groups such as: The Taverner Consort & Players, Alamire, The BBC Singers, Fretwork, London Handel Orchestra, English Touring Opera and I Fagiolini, and overseas with Ensemble Leones, Alex Potter, Tetraktys, Ensemble Gilles Binchois, Stavanger Baroque and Le Miroir de Musique. She recently began presenting concerts in the quartet Courtiers of Grace with Clare Wilkinson (voice), Jacob Heringman (lute) and Gawain Glenton (cornetto). She has performed live on BBC Radio 3 and national radio stations abroad, plays regularly in various international festivals and has recorded CDs with several of the above ensembles.

Image left: with Courtiers of Grace at the Trigonale Festival, Austria


Western Wind, Taverner Choir & Players, Andrew Parrot. (Avie)

Anne Boleyn's Songbook, Alamire, David Skinner, with Clare Wilkinson, Jacob Heringman & Kirsty Whatley. (Obsidian)

L'Orfeo, Monteverdi. Tavener Concort & Players, Andrew Parrot.

L'Orfeo, Monteverdi: Tavener Consort & Players, Andrew Parrot. (Avie)

The Birth of the Violin. Le Miroir de Musique, Baptiste Romain. (Ricercar)

Colours in the Dark: Instrumental Music of Alexander Agricola. (Including compositions by Fabrice Fitch). Ensemble Leones, Marc Lewon. (Christophorus)

Les Fantaisies de Josquin: Instrumental Music of Josquin Desprez. Ensemble Leones, Marc Lewon. (Christophorus)

De Tristresse, De Deuil, De Desplayance. Tetraktys, Kees Boeke. (O-live Music)

Codex Chantilly, vol.II. Tetraktys, Kees Boeke. (O-live Music)

Missa 'Ego sum qui sum'; Motets. Philippe Rogier. Choir of King's College London, David Trendell, & English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble. (Hyperion)

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