Frances is a leading early harpist and has helped pioneer the exploration of early harps, their repertoire, and the use of the harp as a continuo instrument.
She received her early musical training as a Junior Exhibitioner at the Royal College of Music where she was given the opportunity to study the harp as a second instrument. While reading music at Cambridge University her interest in early harps began to burgeon, fuelled by her research into the single action harp for her dissertation. After graduating she studied regularly in Maastricht with the wonderful Dutch harpist and teacher, Phia Berghout, while beginning to freelance in London.
Frances’ diverse career spans the middle ages to the present day. Her early professional life included many concerts, broadcasts, and recordings with the Nash Ensemble, Lontano and the London Sinfonietta on the one hand and the New London Consort, the Consort of Musicke and the Gabrieli Consort and Players on the other. She became a leading exponent of double and triple strung harps, turning pioneering research into practical application, particularly in improvised continuo accompaniment. For nearly two decades she has been harpist with the Choir and Orchestra of the Sixteen and she has worked with all the major UK early music ensembles and many opera companies (including English National Opera, Welsh National Opera, Opera North, English Touring Opera and at Glyndebourne). With the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment she has performed works from Monteverdi and Handel to Berlioz, Brahms, and Verdi, and in 2016 gave a period instrument performance of Mozart’s Flute and Harp Concerto at the Royal Festival Hall.
She is well known as a soloist and chamber music player giving solo recitals, lecture recitals and having many fruitful collaborations with singers and instrumentalists on both early and pedal harps. Her numerous performances and recordings of Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols have received high critical acclaim and she has featured on at least one hundred records and CDs, including a solo Harp Collection, and recordings of Handel’s Harp Concerto and Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp.
Frances is a dedicated teacher working with children and adults of all ages. As well as her post as Professor of Early Harp at the RAM she holds a similar position at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, she has taught at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, at the Royal College of Music and for many years at Junior Trinity. She has given workshops and masterclasses here and abroad at many other institutions of tertiary education including the Royal Conservatoire of Music in the Hague.