Maeve Gilchrist: The Harpweaver
with Aizuri Quartet
Growing up in Edinburgh, Scotland Maeve Gilchrist was surrounded by the local folk music tradition. Her parents were both musicians and regularly hosted sessions in their home, while two of her aunts were professional harpists. The music, as they say, was in her blood. She began studying piano when she was seven, and two years later she picked up the clàrsach (Gaelic harp). During those early years she continued on both instruments and studied voice as well, preparing to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston after completing high school.
Although she had already become interested in sounds outside of Scottish folk, Gilchrist’s experience at Berklee opened up her world. As she said in an interview with the Scotsman “I met musicians from all over the world there, which I found so exciting – Colombian and Venezuelan musicians, for example, who used the harp in completely different ways.” She put that expanded worldview into practice playing different strains of folk with a widening list of collaborators, including singer and guitarist Sam Amidon and fiddler Darol Anger. She’s also worked in the ambitious art-pop band My Brightest Diamond and was an important part of cellist Okkyung Lee’s Yeo-Neun project. Additionally, she played on Arooj Aftab’s Grammy-winning album Vulture Prince and has also worked with Brooklyn Rider, Yo-Yo Ma and Esperanza Spalding.
Gilchrist delivered her most diverse musical statement to date on her 2020 album The Harpweaver, its title borrowed from the Edna St. Vincent Millay poem of the same name—an old recitation by the author is sprinkled throughout the recording. She wrote the entire suite, which features acoustic guitarist Kyle Sanna and the versatile New York string ensemble Aizuri Quartet, who will join her at Big Ears.