Madeline Kirby - Harpist

October 20, 2023

For our October recital we were delighted to welcome Madeline Kirby who is a freelance harpist based in Worcestershire. She plays in concerts as a soloist and with orchestras and other ensembles. She is also a teacher and offers lessons on the harp, piano and classical singing. Madeline also enjoys playing for special occasions including weddings and corporate events. Born in the South West she started studying music at school, achieving three ABRSM Grade 8 distinctions for Harp, Piano and Singing. She then went to Birmingham University to study Music and Modern Languages and played the harp in both orchestras. She was awarded a Dip.ABRSM Diploma and graduated with a 2:1. Since graduating she has remained in the Midlands and works throughout Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire, Leicestershire and further afield.

Madeline began her recital with “Watching the Wheat” a traditional Welsh folk song followed by a set of three traditional Welsh Airs arr. by Samuel Milligan. Immediately one was captivated by Madeline’s ability to produce a performance with the melody always played with great attention to the phrasing etc. whilst adding with such ease, the accompaniment of scale passages, arpeggios and chords, which are such a feature of harp music.

Then followed two pieces by Ailie Robertson, a multi- award winning composer and harpist from Scotland. Firstly, “The Boatman” a traditional Gaelic melody arranged by Ailie and then “Haar”, one of her own compositions. This piece had a haunting theme and a recurring rhythmic pattern rather like the tolling of a bell. It was very atmospheric.

“Three Magical Pieces” from “Suite for Celtic Harp” by Fabio Rizza came next. 1) ”The River’s Dance” with a lilting rhythmic melody above strummed chords was a delight, as was 2)“The Enchanted Mill” a dreamlike contrast.  3) “The Faun” began gently but, with each variation (or verse?) becoming more powerful, it built to a strong climax.

The recital ended with three pieces by Alfredo Rolando Ortiz, an internationally acclaimed soloist of the Paraguayan harp and a composer, author, educator and recording artist. He was born in 1946. “Once on the Mountain” was very rhythmic with a strong South American influence, “Waiting” in contrast, was more subdued but “Milonga for Loving” was again a reminder of the influence of the composer’s nationality.

After much enthusiastic applause Madeline spent a few minutes explaining a little about her magnificent instrument and the basics of playing it and was rewarded with yet more applause. It was an evening of rarely performed music brought to us by a most talented exponent of the genre.

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