A traditional musician from a young age, Marta Cook is committed to realizing the potential of the modern lever harp as a traditional instrument. Her approach to technique and musicianship is greatly inspired by her love of fiddling and piping, and particularly by the legacy of those traditions in Chicago. She is also well-known as an accompanist with an interest in developing the harp as a rhythm instrument.
Having won a senior title at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann at the age of 19, in recent years, Marta has traveled extensively, performing and teaching throughout Europe and North America. Highlights include the World Harp Congress (Vancouver,) Spoleto Festival USA (Charleston), Pritzker Pavilion (Chicago), Espace Culturel Bertin Poirée (Paris), The Irish Centre (Leeds), and every major North American harp festival. Having worked as a studio musician in Chicago and New York City, her playing has featured on many albums; she is considered a GRAMMY® winner by the Recording Academy for her contribution to Yo-Yo Ma’s 2010 release Songs of Joy and Peace.
Outside of traditional music, Marta has worked on a diverse array of projects, among them creating and editing harp parts for guitar virtuoso Steve Vai’s 2012 “Story of Light Tour” and coaching legendary harpist Deborah Henson-Conant on their performance; touring as an improviser with France with Marisa C. Hayes and Franck Boulègue of Body Cinéma; and serving as Principal Harp for the Millennium Chamber Players. As a composer, Marta’s commissioned pieces include choreographer Elena Demyanenko’s Raw Nerves for New York Live Arts, performed by Leah Morrison; Looped, a 30-minute solo dance theatre piece for the Somerset Harp Festival; and Resonnance; a film score for the Festival International de Vidéo Danse de Bourgogne, L’Arc Scène Nationale, Le Creusot, France.
Marta is dedicated to teaching and coaching students of all abilities, from beginners of all ages to professional performers. She currently teaches private students throughout the USA and Canada and mentors an Irish harp pedagogy program of her own design at the Riley School of Irish Music in Ohio. Her students have been recognized with numerous first place and runner up awards at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann as well as at the regional level. At the university level, Marta has worked with harpists and Irish Studies students at Oberlin, NYU, Columbia, Sacred Heart, Evergreen State, and the University of Oregon. She formerly taught at Manhattan’s Irish Arts Center.
Marta’s own training is greatly indebted to pioneering Irish harper Máire Ní Chathasaigh. She studied musicology at the University of Chicago and holds an honors degree in harp performance from the Chicago College of Performing Arts under Chicago Symphony/former New York Philharmonic Principal Harpist, Sarah Bullen. Marta is a sponsored artist of William Rees Instruments.
Instructor – Harp