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"one of the leading contemporary performers on the instrument"   The Scotsman

"mesmeric harping"  Harpa, No 35

"beautifully lyrical playing from Karen Marshalsay, Grainne Hambly and Ann Heymann"    The Living Tradition, review of Harp House 



COMPOSITIONS
“It is evidence of the strength of the harp in Scotland today that there are many fine harpers composing for the instrument. Most of them are writing from their own deep Scottish roots, but with a range of influences and experiences which makes their music rich, contemporary in style, full of subtleties and references and with a universal appeal. Chief among these are William Jackson, Corrina Hewat and Savourna Stevenson. Joining them is Karen Marshalsay ..." Sounding Strings

Celtic Connections    New Voices Commissions
JOURNEYING (1999 premiere)

“the music is a 45 minute-long dynamic exploration of melody in rhythm” The List

“This series [New voices] has been a strong feature again this year and, while the previous two concerts featured more experienced musicians, harper Karen Marshalsay’s first ever large-scale composition Journeying maintained the series’ interest level.” The Herald

“…imaginative use of the harps’ contrasting tones … made for an enjoyable performance."                  The Herald

“…responded to the challenge with tremendous boldness and breadth of vision … Rhythmic and melodic emphasis shifted fluidly between the two sets of instruments, the music confidently venturing outward from its Scottish home base into Latin and African territory.”                               The Scotsman

PROMISES TO KEEP & JOURNEYING Glasgow Cathedral January 2000


“…a reprise of last year’s success” The List

“… more interesting in historical rather than music terms until Marshalsay’s writing got involved …With Marshalsay leading an ensemble of three harpers and two percussionist, the latter piece retained all the impact of its premiere last year, shaped by traditional tune forms and driven by a shifting multi-faceted exploration of the symbiosis between melody and rhythm.”                       The Scotsman

“Karen’s strengths lie in evoking mood and she created the world of the poem subtly and expertly … This journey was completely different to the one in the first half – this was a grand world tour, incorporating melodic and rhythmic elements from all sorts of cultures – but both journeys had something in common: all the little pieces, the rhythms, the instrumentation, the themes, added up to a cohesive whole that took you somewhere else and brought you back again, safe and with great sound. It is impressive that such a relatively new composer has such strong pieces to her credit.” Sounding Strings


ON THE DUO WITH HEATHER YULE
“Playing harps, singing songs, telling stories, occasionally weaving all three elements together …first of all they play some beautiful harp duets … ranging from a 16th century French dance deliciously grave and courtly, to a piercingly bitter sweet Venezuelan waltz; from traditional pipe tunes to one of Marshalsay’s own compositions, the merrily evocative Tracey’s Wriggly Jig … the format itself is unquestioningly a winning one.” The Scotsman Dec 1999

“ … with a nod to the long-lost bardic traditions of the clarsach, present an intriguing programme that combined storytelling, harping and fragments of sung balladry."                                                             The Scotsman April 2000


Karen and Heather have a freshness and excitement and an original use of harps."      Sounding Strings Winter 1998