Margret Koell, harp
As an early music specialist, the Austrian has made a name for herself with her unprecedented playing on the historical harp. However, her beginnings lie in the Tyrolean folk harp and in her contemporary Austrian folk ensemble “Die Knoedel” the harpist makes her roots visible as well.
About the artist
Specialist for historical harps
Margret Koell is an internationally leading exponent of her instrument, the historical harp, in all its forms and stages of development. She is both an active musician and an early music specialist, and performs worldwide as a soloist, chamber musician and continuo player.
Having started with the Tyrolian folk harp, Margret Koell studied the concert harp in Innsbruck, Baltimore and with Helga Storck at the College of Music in Munich, from where she graduated as a teacher and a performer. After further studies on historical harps with Andrew Lawrence-King and Mara Galassi, she took a degree at the Accademia Internazionale della Musica in Milan. She was awarded the Austrian Jakob Stainer Prize in 2008. Since 2012 she is teaching the baroque harp class at the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler in Berlin and gives masterclasses and workshops across Europe.
As a specialist on the triple harp as well as the single-action harp Margret Koell plays as a soloist and as a continuo player with various baroque ensembles and orchestras: She is the principal harpist of Il Giardino Armonico (Giovanni Antonini), Accademia Bizantina (Ottavio Dantone) and the Balthasar-Neumann-Ensemble (Thomas Hengelbrock) and has been invited to perform with Europa Galante, the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, B’Rock and Concerto Köln. Her appearances include the Salzburg Festival, Covent Garden, the Theater an der Wien, the Opéra Garnier Paris, the Bavarian State Opera and the Teatro alla Scala Milan. Her renowned chamber music partners are lutenist Luca Pianca, violinist Dmitry Sinkovsky, recorder player Stefan Temmingh, viola da gamba player Vittorio Ghielmi and sopranos Emöke Barath and Roberta Invernizzi.
Margret Koell has participated in numerous CD productions, broadcasts and tours, e.g. with Cecilia Bartoli, Magdalena Kožena, Sonia Prina and Roberta Invernizzi. Her solo CD L’arpa di Partenope with early baroque music from Naples (Accent/Note1, 2014) was awarded with the Diapason d’or. Her second CD L’arpa Barberini with soprano Roberta Invernizzi was published in 2015 (awarded with the 5 Diapason) and showcases music from the times of the famous Barberini harp in Rome. Her duo CD Toys for Two with lutenist Luca Pianca from 2018 features English music for harp and lute, the two symbolic instruments of the British music tradition. Her latest CD from 2020 focuses on Austrian harp repertoire from the times of Empress Maria Theresia.
As a member of the contemporary Austrian folk ensemble Die Knoedel since 1988, she has performed worldwide, including regular concerts with guest artists such as Meredith Monk, Sainkho Namtchylak and the Kronos Quartet. Among her recent collaborations is a project with the live-techno ensemble Elektro Guzzi, combining the sound of the baroque harp with electronic music.
Margret Koell is the founder of Harfenlabor (Harp Laboratory), an interdisciplinary platform for historical and contemporary performance practice on historical harps, stimulating critical discourse as well as new performative and interpretative approaches towards the instrument. She contributes to the harp repertoire herself by regularly commissioning contemporary works.
A concert highlight in 2017 was the inauguration concert of the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg where Margret Koell participated in a duo with countertenor Philippe Jaroussky. Key engagements for 2019-20 include the Teatro alla Scala Milan, the International Handel Festival Göttingen, the Innsbruck Early Music Festival as well as solo recitals at the Galleria degli Uffizi Florence and the new Pierre Boulez Saal Berlin.