Maria Christina Cleary

1411047867 maria christina cleary 01
Started in: 2008
End date: 2016
Musician type: stringed instrument
University: Leiden University
Personal website:
Nationality: Ireland

Maria has won many prizes as a solo performer, including the Utrecht Early Music Competition in 1997 (First Prize ex-aequo), the Nippon International Harp Competition in 1996 (sixth prize), and the Dutch National Harp Competition in 1997 (second prize). As an orchestral player she has worked as Principal Harpist of the Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest in Amsterdam.

Maria was the harpist of the contemporary music ensemble MusikFabrik Köln for five years, and also worked with Remix Ensemble Porto and Ensemble Prometheus Belgium. She has premièred more than thirty new pieces for ensemble and harp solo.

Specialising in historical harps, she plays classical single-action harps, baroque chromatic harps (arpa doppia and arpa de dos ordenes) and various medieval harps. She has developed a chromatic medieval harp where she plays repertoire from the 13th to the 15th century, and has used this instrument on recordings with the ensemble Tetraktys.

Maria has performed as soloist with the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, American Bach Soloists, Orchestra of the Antipodes Sydney, Bayerisches Staatsoper, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Arion Ensemble Montreal, and the RTE Concert Orchestra. In 2014 she was a featured soloist at the World Harp Congress in Sydney, premiering a Krumpholtz Concerto on the single-action harp.

Maria performs regularly with Davide Monti as Duo Arparla, a violin/harp duo specialising in repertoire from the 17th to 19th centuries.

Her docARTES doctoral defense took place on December 14, 2016 at Leiden University.


The “harpe organisée”, 1720-1840: Rediscovering the Lost Pedal Techniques on Harps With a Single-Action Pedal Mechanism.


This is the first monographic study on harp pedal techniques, tracing the historical way to pedal on the early pedal harps with a single-action pedal mechanism, the “harpe organisée”, the term used by Diderot