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"I only want to know every limit, all the resources of the harp. This instrument has it's faults, but it is not inferior to any other, when it is well understood."

Jean-Baptiste Krumpholtz, an avant-gardist from the 1780's

 

Essi Iso-Oja (Ellonen) holds a Master's degree in the harp performance from Sibelius Academy. She has over twenty-years experience as an orchestral and a chamber music harpist with the major Finnish orchestras (for example Lahti Symphony Orchestra) and with the various ensembles ranging from Early Music to the Contemporary field. She has also given lectures about the harp music in Finland as well as composed, arranged and edited music mainly for her instrument.

Essi is one of the rare players of the historical pedal harp (the single action harp). She performs regularly as a soloist, a chamber musician and a continuo player with the early music ensembles like Elysionin Kedot. During the season 2012 she also plays with the Helsinki Baroque Orchestra performing a baroque opera in the Finnish National Opera. She has been the harpist in the concert series Le Concert Spirituel 2010-2011 (Les Bains des Tuileries; Les virtuoses francais; Les Liaisons dangereuses) and in the music festivals like Sibafest 2010 (Catherine the Great's St. Peterburg Court Concert) and Les Lumières -festival 2009 (Salon de Madame Stael). 

As an artistic director she has created the concert Les Liaisons dangereuses featuring Music from the time of the French Revolution and three recital programs for the rarely heard repertoire for the 18th century harp; Salon de Catherine (Katariinan salonki), Sous le ciel (Taivaan alla) and Evening music from the 18th century (Iltamusiikkia 1700-luvulta).

You can hear Essi's harps also in the numerous film soundtracks, like Free the Mind (dir. Phie Ambo, post-production, coming 2011) and the awarded documents Mechanical Love (dir. Phie Ambo 2007) and Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman (dir. Jennifer Fox 2006).

Essi Iso-Oja is a member of the Single Action Harp Associaton, the Historical Harp Society, the Finnish Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies and a founding member of the Finnish Harp Society.