Skaila was born in India and started learning the piano at the age of five.
Skaila studied piano and singing from an early age at the Royal Academy of Music and at 17 years of age began to study the harp with Tina Bonifacio and Marisa Robles, after which she quickly became established in London working with all the major orchestras. Skaila is renowned for her long extensive career in both classical and pop records, television and her amazing list of over 1000 film soundtrack credits to date, including four Harry Potter films, Shrek and all the James Bond films since the John Barry days. She has also recorded with artists like Elton John, Paul McCartney, Sting, Robbie Williams, James Galway, Joni Mitchell, Michel Legrand, Henry Mancini, John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Pat Metheny, Frank Sinatra, Joan Sutherland, Pavarotti, Katherine Jenkins and many more.
For 25 years Skaila was the solo harpist with the Nash Ensemble and has been the Principal Harp of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields since 1971. For over twenty years Skaila and Tommy Reilly, virtuoso harmonica player, performed and recorded many works for their unique duo. Skaila’s solo recordings are available on the Chandos, Hyperion, Naxos and ASV labels.
Skaila was Head of Harp at the Royal Academy of Music from 1999-2010, and was awarded Professorship of the University of London in 2004. Her former students are globally renowned and many have solo orchestral positions worldwide. Skaila has worked closely as Harp Consultant to the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music for several years. All other information on her publications can be found here.
Skaila is regularly invited to sit on juries of international harp competitions and has given lecture-recitals and masterclasses in Russia, throughout Europe, Hong Kong and across America. She was President of the Jury in the 2019 USA international Harp Competition. Skaila taught regularly as a guest professor at the Amsterdam Conservatory from 2008 till 2016. In 2006 she co-founded the summer International Harp Academy ‘HarpMasters’ in Switzerland with Milda Agazarian. Skaila was appointed the distinguished title of Professor Emerita of Harp at the Royal Academy of Music in 2010. Skaila has won many awards for her contribution to the promotion of the harp, worldwide.
Parallel to her performing and teaching career, Skaila is a prolific composer and arranger. She has published 25 books of harp music, many of which are on the ABRSM, Guildhall and Trinity exam syllabus. She has collaborated with two generations of composers in their harp works and has commissioned over 24 new works for her students and for the Academy Harp Ensemble which she founded in 1993. 2017 saw the debut of the London Harp Quartet of which she is Artistic Director.
Skaila’s articles have appeared in the Gramophone, BBC Music Magazine, WHC’s Review, American Harp Society Journal, Harp Column, Harp Today and the UK Harp Association magazine. Skaila was honoured to be featured in the Musicians’ Union magazine’s ‘Hall of Fame’ article in March 2010.