photo: Mike Lawley
London-based Dutch harpist with classical roots, a passion for the blues, and a pioneering spirit.
Brenda Dor-Groot is a multifaceted performer and educator. She has classical roots, a passion for the blues, and a pioneering spirit. Alongside her work as a freelance harpist and private harp teacher, Brenda is an avid advocate and developer of new and upcoming directions for the harp. She performs and teaches blues, jazz, classical music and free improvisation and is equally at home on pedal and lever harp, acoustic and electric.
Currently based in London, Brenda grew up in The Netherlands and trained as a classical harpist at the conservatories of Rotterdam and Cologne. Early classical highlights include harp positions in the European Union Youth Orchestra and Schleswig Holstein Musik Festival Orchestra. In the classical realm she currently especially enjoys collaborations with choirs, annually performing the iconic Ceremony of Carols with the St Paul’s Cathedral Choristers amongst others. Celebrated creative partnerships include free improvisation duos with violinist Sietse van Gorkom and with bassoon player Marieke voor de Wind, and a collaboration with DJ/producer Cristopher Michelangoli.
Pioneering as a blues harpist, Brenda aims to shape a genuine role and voice for the harp in blues. Anno 2024, this process of research, learning, teaching, method writing and composing is well on its way. Her composition Bregar’s Guitar is published in the Wild Strings Jazz & Pop Harp Collection and listed in the latest Trinity music exam syllabus. Two volumes of blues originals, one for lever harp and one for pedal harp, are nearing completion, and a blues harp teaching method is in the making.
In 2007, Brenda co-founded the International Jazz Harp Foundation (JHF) with fellow harpist Sabine Meijers. Together, they successfully produced jazz harp festivals, Jazz Harp Academy short courses and many workshops and jam sessions. The JHF has been serving as a global network and promotional platform for jazz harp professionals, students and audiences for almost 15 years. Brenda was also the lead organiser of the first-ever UK jazz & pop harp event Wild Strings for the UK Harp Association in 2018.
”Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path, and leave a trail.- Ralph Waldo Emersonwith thanks to the inimitable Kathy De Angelo of the Somerset Harp Festival for using this quote which I found to reflect my professional path so well too.