Harpist

Skaila Kanga

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Skaila Kanga was born in India and started learning the piano at the age of five. She won a Junior Exhibition to the Royal Academy of Music and later studied there with Vivian Langrish. Her interest in the harp began at 17 years of age when she was given the opportunity to study with Tina Bonifacio, Sir Thomas Beecham's harpist in the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Skaila began her career with the BBC Concert Orchestra and soon went on to freelance with many regional and all the major London orchestras under such eminent conductors as Boult, Kempe, Guilini, Monteux, Haitink, Maazel, Mehta, Barenboim, Previn, Solti, Klemperer, Svetlanov and Rattle. At this time she also worked extensively with Pierre Boulez in the BBC Symphony Orchestra alongside Sidonie Goossens and Maria Korchinska.

Skaila's solo career has included many performances of concertos and broadcasts at the same time as her flourishing work in the sphere of records, films and television. She has worked for artists such as Sinatra, Streisand, Elton John, Pavarotti, Joan Sutherland, Domingo, Carreras, Barbara Hendricks, Kiri Te Kanawa, John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Michel Legrand, James Horner, Pat Metheny, Michael Nyman and Richard Rodney Bennett and many more. In 1977 Tommy Reilly and Skaila formed a duo for harmonica and harp which spanned 22 years. They performed in concert and on television throughout Britain, Europe and South America. They recorded on the Chandos label for whom Skaila has also recorded all the major French chamber music repertoire with the Academy of St Martins in the Fields Chamber Ensemble and Mozart's Concerto for flute and harp with Susan Milan, Hickox and the City of London Sinfonia.
Other solo albums include Britten's Ceremony of Carols for Naxos, a CD of violin and harp duos by Heifetz and Kreisler with Maxim Xue Wei, an album with Emma Johnson, clarinet, a duo album with Philippa Davies, flute, and two collections of Bax's chamber music for harp for Hyperion and Chandos with the Nash Ensemble and the Academy of St Martins respectively. Skaila has also recorded an album of traditional Irish music with the folk violinist Helen O'Hara. 1998 saw the release of Invocation, a solo album with Julian Lloyd Webber which reached the classical charts.

Skaila has recently recorded Mozart’s Flute and Harp Concerto with Edward Beckett and the London Festival Orchestra for ASV and took part in a CD of the works of Mark-Anthony Turnage.

Alongside her classical career Skaila has always been very active in the pop world. She has worked with artists such as Paul McCartney, Boyzone, Eternal, Michael Ball, Jane McDonald, Sarah Brightman, Bjork, Pharaoh Sanders, Milton Nascimento, Manic Street Preachers and Sting with whom she recorded a solo track for the CD 20th Century Blues. Other recent album credits include artists such as Sumi Jo, James Galway, Joni Mitchell, Cliff Richard, Kylie Minogue, Northern Line and Girl Thing, McFly ,G4, Il Divo and Duel.

Other artists include Zizi Possi, Michael Civisca, Jose Cura, Slava, Robbie Williams, Westlife, Samantha Mumba, Izzy Cooper and and another wonderful CD for Joni Mitchell. Skaila recorded and performed the Queen Symphony for EMI at the Royal Festival Hall.


photo by Bill Mackenzie
 

Skaila's many TV credits include the Prince's Trust Gala, Andrew Lloyd Webber's 5oth Birthday Gala, Elizabeth Taylor's Birthday Concert and 16 Royal Variety Performances!

Most recent film credits include The Mummy Returns, The Hole, Chocolat, End Game, Crush, The Others, Sacrifice, Possession, From Hell, Return to Neverland, Harry Potter, Before you go, The Time Machine, The Guru, Shipping News, My Life as a Fairy Tale - Hans Christian Andersen, The Truth about Charlie, We Were Soldiers Once and Young Below, Talk to her, Ararat, Simon, 101 Dalmations 2, Swept away, Secret Passage, The Hours, Legend of Bhagat Singh, Life of David Gale, The Four Feathers, Die another Day, Teachers's Pet, The 25th Hour, Ghost Ship, Nicholas Nickleby, Cold Mountain, Troy, Shrek 2, Bridget Jones, Shark Tale, Alfie, Enduring Love, Harry Potter 3 and Sahara, Batman Begins, Fragile, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Half Light, The Grooming, The Dark, The wild and Wicked World of Brian Jones and An American Haunting, The Constant Gardener, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and The Da Vinci Code.

Skaila's many classical recordings include Lieberman's Flute Concertos with James Galway and the London Mozart Players, a CD of classical favourites with the same artists, a CD with Julian Lloyd Webber and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Passion 2 with Jose Carreras and the Oboe Concerto by David Mullikin with Neville Marriner and the Academy of St Martins Orchestra of which Skaila has been the principal harpist since 1971. Skaila is also the Principal Harp of the Sinfonia of London, the London Mozart Players and the LMP Chamber Ensemble.

Skaila has given Composers' Workshops at City University and has taught since 1988 at the Royal Academy of Music where she is the Head of Harp Studies. She received a Fellowship in 1994 and has served on the Board of Governors for three years. In February 2003 she was awarded Professorship of the University of London. Each year she has commissioned a new work for the students in her department. Past composers have included Adam Gorb, Melanie Daiken, Paul Pellay and Rhian Samuel and Joyce T Koh. In 2003 Gareth Wood wrote "Waterless Seas", a work for 12 harps which was performed at the RAM Harp Showcase concert. This event also included Kikta's Cantata for soprano and tenor soloists, chorus and orchestra of harps. 2003's commissions included a new solo work ‘Bugs’ by Paul Patterson, choral and harp works by Rhian Samuel and Gareth Wood and a jazz suite for 2 harps and rhythm section by Dick Walter. Recent commissions for her Harp Department include ‘Forbidden Gates’ by Gareth Wood and ‘Carillons’ for 6 harps by Eric Crees. The newest harp commission for 2005 was ‘Gabriel’s Vision’ for solo horn and 6 harps by Richard Bissell. Both the Crees and Bissell works were showcased in December 2005. Skaila is now a regular artistic director of many chamber concerts at the RAM. The London harp concert series she promotes have become a unique part of the harp scene and always draw a capacity audience.

The Harp Open Day 2002 culminated in a masterclass given by Pierre Boulez. Other eminent Open Day guests have included Chantal Mathieu, Isabelle Perrin and Isabelle Moretti. Skaila’s past and present students continue to flourish. In 1998 Lucy Wakeford was the first harpist ever to win the Young Concert Artists Trust Award and has been appointed to the Philharmonia Orchestra; Suzanne Willison is now principal of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; in September 1999 Catrin Finch won first prize at the Lily Laskine Competition in Paris and in January 2000 won the prestigious Young Concert Artists Award in New York. Subsequently, Catrin was appointed Royal Harpist to HRH The Prince of Wales. Ruth Potter won the Park Lane Group Award for 2002 and Laurette Pope was 1st Harp of the EUYO for many years and gave a series of recitals in September 2003 for the Countess of Munster Recital Scheme and Gwenan Gibbard won an award with Live Music Now. Victoria Davies won the London Harp Competition for two successive years and her RAM students have again been invited to perform for the Salvi Foundation in London in May 2004 and 2005. Skaila also teaches regularly for the Jonde Nacional in Spain and has given master classes for the NYO and Morley Harps in Britain. In 2001 she was the first harpist to visit Italy for the Salvi Foundation’s Masterclass Series in Europe. In March 2003 she was the guest of honour at the 4th Russian Harp Festival in Moscow where she gave a masterclass. She visited Salt Lake City in June 2003 as guest presenter of the American Harp Society where she performed a recital, gave a masterclass and a workshop on Cadenza composition.

In her work with the Nash Ensemble, which has spanned 25 years, Skaila has received widespread critical acclaim. From 1977- 2002, she gave 32 premieres of new works and took part in countless series at the Wigmore Hall. She has performed at most major British music festivals including four solo appearances at the Proms, toured Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Israel, Hong Kong, and Venezuela. She has worked with composers such as Mark Anthony Turnage, Richard Rodney Bennett, Nicholas Maw, Simon Holt, Richard Causton, Elena Firsova, Julian Anderson, Jonathan Harvey, David and Colin Matthews. She has appeared at the Meltdown and London Jazz Festivals on the South Bank with the Matrix Ensemble, performed Britten’s Ceremony of Carols at the Barbican with Carl Davis and toured Germany with Sir Neville Marriner and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields in seven performances of Debussy’s Danses for solo harp and orchestra. Her many Nash appearances at the Wigmore Hall have included works by Ravel, Bax, Debussy Francaix, Saint-Saens and world premieres of Gordon Kerry’s Blue Latitudes and John Tavener’s A Sacred Dream and her own transcription of the Sonatine by Ravel for flute, viola and harp, first performed in 1994.
At the Nash Inventions series at the Purcell Room in 2001, Skaila performed works by Henze, Holt, Holliger, Beamish and Raising Sparks by James Macmillan which has been recorded for Black Box Records. In 2002 she performed works by Holt, Anderson, Debussy and Dallapiccola. April 2001 saw a Residency at Princeton University and Skaila served as a jury member for the 5th American International Harp Competition in Bloomington. In August 2002 she was a judge at the Lily Laskine Harp Competition in Paris.

2002’s concerts included a series with the London Mozart Players, chamber concerts with Nash, LMP and ASMF chamber ensembles as well as the usual Nash Wigmore Hall Series in the autumn. In October 2002, Skaila performed Britten's Canticle V with Ian Bostridge at the Barbican.
In 2003 Skaila performed works by Cecilia McDowell and Lynne Plowman with the London Mozart Players, and with Joshua Bell and the Academy of St Martins. A recent recording project with Sarah Chang and Julian Lloyd Webber took place at Air Studios, London in 2005.

Skaila also collaborated with Rautavaara in the editing of his new harp concerto and with Gareth Wood with his Concerto for Harp and Brass.

The following compositions are published by ALAW and are included in the prestigious Lyon and Healy catalogue in America and at all major harp retail outlets in the UK and Europe.
They can also be obtained at www.sheetmusicnow.com and at sales@alawmusic.ndo.co.uk (www.alawmusic.ndo.co.uk)
Recently released publications are:
Les Saisons de la Harpe Suite for solo harp
Cadenzas for Mozart’s Concerto for flute and harp
British Folk Songs Vol. 1 and 2,
For flute [violin or oboe] and harp

Miniatures 1, for harp [with optional 2nd part]
Miniatures 2, for harp and solo instrument
American Sketches for clarinet and harp
(flute version available)
Conversations for tuba (cello or double bass or bassoon)
and harp.
All-Time Jazz Favourites

Recently published by Maruka Music are Minstrel's Gallery, (a collection of 30 easy pieces for non-pedal or pedal harp), Pathways, (a suite for solo harp in the classical style) and Harp Songbook. In August 2004 Skaila published her own transcription of Mozart’s Piano Concerto K414 in A major for Solo Harp. In preparation are Six Jazz Interludes for solo harp, a sequel to the hugely popular Minstrel’s Gallery and a CD of her own compositions.
Just released are Cadenza Notebook Vol.1 featuring Handel’s Harp Concerto in Bb, published by Lyon and Healy and Sightreading Tests for Concert and Celtic Harp (Grades 1-8) published by ABRSM.

Skaila was invited as a Guest of Honour to the International Harp Competition in Bloomington, Indiana in July 2004 when she was also a featured artist in a recital of her own compositions. In August 2004, she gave a Masterclass at the 6th European Harp Symposium in Lyon and toured the Baltic Capitals as a recital soloist.

In Spring 2005, Skaila gave the Opening Recital of the Russian Harpists’ Festival in Moscow followed by a highly successful coast to coast lecture/recital tour of American universities. She gave a presentation on ‘The Harp in the Film and Recording Industry’ at the World Harp Congress in Dublin in July 2005, which she will repeat at the invitation of the 37th American Harp Society Conference in San Fransisco next July.
Skaila was the featured soloist with Richard Baker on P&O Oriana in October and will return on the Artemis in August 2006. In January of this year, Skaila visited Lausanne Conservatoire to give a recital and masterclass. Skaila has also been invited to be a jury member of the new composition award for the 2007 USA Harp Competition in Bloomington and also to be a judge in the Harp Chamber Music Competition in Arles nest October.

Skaila's first summer harp school took place in Switzerland in July 2006, in collaboration with Milda Agazarian from the Moscow Academy. Information about next year's course can be found on www.harpmasters.com <http://www.harpmasters.com>


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