ESTHER SWIFT – COMPOSER
Likened to Kate Bush, Eddie Reader and Joanna Newsom, singer-songwriter and harpist Esther Swift is an up and coming musician in the Scottish folk music scene. Whilst being heavily influenced by her folk roots, Esther’s music also combines jazz, blues and minimalist references. With a passion for pushing the boundaries of folk and classical harp music she has become a prolific song writer. A deep love of Scotland, the Scottish Borders (where Esther grew up) and nature continually inspire and influence her music; the songs of her new EP ‘The Mairches’ which features cojon, string quartet and trumpet, are based on her life growing up in The Scottish Borders.
Esther’s music has been aired on BBC Radio 2 (with Jimi Goodwin), Radio 3 (Late Junction and World on 3) and Radio 6 (Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour) and she has appeared at many festivals including Edinburgh International Festival, Wales International Harp Festival, Orkney Folk Festival, Buxton Fringe Festival, Other Voices Festival and Bromyard Folk Festival. She has also made guest appearances with Cherry Ghost on their new album ‘Herd Runners’, with the Loud Poets and regularly collaborates with singer David Douglas. Esther has toured extensively across the UK and won the Deutsche Bank Award in 2013 with her duo Twelfth Day.
Esther plays as a solo harpist/singer, in two duos; Twelfth Day with Catriona Price (fiddle/vocals) and Swift & Lindop with Jennie Lindop (Horn) and CLOUDS harp quartet with Elfair Grug Dyer, Rebecca Mills and Angelina Warburton. In all of these guises Esther writes original material which is enthralling, enchanting and beautiful. Her music is rarely written down which brings freedom and intimacy to performances. At only age 26 Esther has an impressive discography, and an exciting future ahead.
ABOUT THE BAND
CLOUDS Harp Quartet formed in 2008 when Elfair Grug Dyer, Rebecca Mills, Esther Swift and Angelina Warburton all studied at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester with Eira Lynn Jones.
Whilst studying at the RNCM they performed together in a number of exciting venues including Huddersfield contemporary Music Festival in 2007 where they premièred ‘Anthill’ by Catherine Kontz; a concert celebrating John Cage’s music in The Baltic, Gateshead and a concert under the dinosaur in the Natural History Museum in London.
Since then they have released three CDs of original works, their debut – Clouds, Water, and their most recent – Golden Light.
CLOUDS harp quartet’s music is written by Esther Swift and draws much from her background in folk music and improvisation.
CLOUDS have toured extensively around the UK to promote their CD’s, and tour venues have included the Royal Northern College of Music, St. Giles Cathedral, Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh and Whitechapel Art Gallery, London.
Following the success of their first UK tour in summer 2011, CLOUDS were invited to perform their original works at the Bridgwater Hall in Manchester as part of the CLIC Sargent Charity Christmas Concerts in 2011.
As individuals, all four are established as soloists, chamber and orchestral musicians: including performances at Cadogan Hall, Barbican and Royal Albert Hall, London and St.Davids Hall, Cardiff.
They have been involved in various orchestras including the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, RNCM Symphony Orchestra, Chetham’s Symphony Orchestra, Manchester Camerata and Ορχήστρα των Χρωμάτων (Athens).
Esther has also been performing internationally as part of her Routes to Roots project with folk duo Twelfth Day – their project sees them travel to four different continents; sharing folk music traditions with the musicians they meet.
Angelina is a professional freelance harpist based in the North of England, she works as a practice supervisor at Chetham’s School of Music and plays with many local and national orchestras.
Elinor Nicholson has recently graduated from the masters degree at RNCM and is a freelance harpist regularly working for Live Music Now as part of the Meridiem Flute and Harp Duo.
Rebecca performs internationally as resident harpist on board the Cunard cruise ships, Queen Elizabeth & Queen Mary II.