Maeve Gilchrist, a composer and improviser from Edinburgh who now lives in Brooklyn, is unparalleled in her ability to coax a concert harp’s worth of chromatic brilliance, harmonic variety, and rhythmic vitality from a traditional Celtic lever harp.
While touring internationally as a soloist and a bandleader who regards no bounds between classical, folk, and electronic music, Gilchrist has also played key roles in momentous projects such as Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble and Arooj Aftab’s Vulture Prince. The most recent of her five albums is The Harpweaver, a “buoyant, sprightly, and utterly beguiling” career highlight enshrined in a five-star review by The Irish Times, which had already anointed Gilchrist as “the epitome of a new generation” making the harp feel “both ancient and utterly contemporary.”
The first lever harpist to teach at Berklee, her alma mater, Gilchrist is a prodigious educator who does not scorn being the featured soloist on one of DreamWorks’ How to Train Your Dragon movies. “I really enjoy exploring some of the grittier sounds of the harp,” Gilchrist told NPR. “We all know it can make this ethereal, kind of luminous sound. But actually, it’s such a versatile instrument.” She proves this in a highly musical yet conceptually questing body of work that has as much to offer to fans of ambient, classical, and experimental music as to those of traditional Scottish folk.