The ARPARLA ensemble, Davide Monti on violin and Maria Christina Cleary on harp, takes inspiration from a desire to speak through music - parla in Italian means ‘speak’. Using the soft and refined sonorities of the harp and the expressive range of colours of the violin, both Davide and Maria stay true to historical ways of playing.
The Monti and Cleary duo give concerts with energy and enthusiasm, receiving excellent reviews from all over the world, bringing a musical message that goes beyond language, culture, and social class.
Their repertoire focuses on two specific musical periods in which their instruments perfectly express the synthesis of the Baroque period (17th century), and the transition period between Classicism and Romanticism (end of the 18th, beginning of the 19th century).
Formed in 2005, Arparla has performed many concerts - not only in Italy, their inspiration and home, but around the world. The duo’s first tour was in Japan, where they also gave master classes in Early Music and Historical Performance Practice.
Arparla has performed all over Europe including festivals like Aqua Music Amsterdam, Itinéraire Baroque Perigord, the Early Music Festival in Brugges, Rethymno Renaissance Festival, the International Mozart Festival Rovereto, Mazovie Goes Baroque Warsaw and Muzyka w Raju Paradyz. They have also performed at the Montreal Early Music Festival. They toured Australia and Singapore in 2011, including a performance at the launch of the Woodend Winter Arts Festival in Victoria.
In 2009 they premiered Spohr's Double Concerto on original instruments.
Arparla has also given series of concerts and lessons in Kampala, Uganda, to sustain the NGO COOPI, performing for the Italian and Irish Embassies, Makerere University, The International University of Kampala, and the Africa Institute of Music.
Besides performing, Arparla has taught at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, the Guildhall School of Music in London, the Conservatories of Padova and Vicenza, NUS Singapore, RMIT and Monash UNI in Melbourne, the Griffith Conservatory in Brisbane, the Kraków Music Academy, the Conservatory in Vienna, and also collaborated with the Menuhin Foundation MUS-E project.
Arparla has recorded two duos CDs under the Stradivarius label. The first, So mach' die Augen zu is of the Chamber works and harp solos of Louis Spohr, the premiere recording of this composer using original instruments. Their second CD, Le Grazie del Violino, is a collection of Italian instrumental music of the 17th century including Marini, Pandolfi-Mealli, Selma, Uccellini, Frescobaldi, Merula and Fontana. This recording culminates many years of research into performance expressiveness, effects and musical rhetoric. These CDs has received rave reviews from international music journals.
Maria Christina Cleary
The extraordinary harpist Maria Christina Cleary from Ireland, “a pioneer of period harp practice” has been described as “a true virtuoso”, and a “brilliant player”. She is noted for her improvisatory skills and ingenious continuo playing, combined with a particular care to creating a beautiful sound on a perilous instrument.
Specialising in historical harps, Maria is part of a rare breed of harpist who performs on medieval harps, the Italian arpa doppia, the Spanish arpa de dos ordenes and the 18th century harpe organisée. She promotes a pedal technique that was exclusively used on harps with a single-action pedal mechanism. She has developed several innovative tunings for performing medieval and renaissance music, which can heard on recordings with Ensemble Tetraktys.
She has performed as soloist with, among others, Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, American Bach Soloists, Bayerische Staatsoper, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Arion Ensemble Montreal and the RTE Concert Orchestra. In 2014, Maria was invited to perform a Concerto by J. B. Krumpholtz with the Orchestra of the Antipodes at the The World Harp Congress in Sydney. This was the first time the harpe organisée was featured at the Congress. Maria performs regularly with Davide Monti under the name Arparla, a violin and harp duo specialising in repertoire from the 17th to the 19th centuries.
Her recordings include So mach’ die Augen zu, the first ever CD of Louis Spohr’s music using original instruments and historical performing practices. Other solo recordings of works by Frescobaldi, Merula, Uccellini and Rossi can be found in Arparla's CDs: Le Grazie del Violino, Uccellini Op 5, Uccellini Op 4. Le Grazie del Violino is the first ever CD using the harp exclusively as an accompanying and solo instrument.
She has been prizewinner at the following competitions as soloist: Utrecht Early Music Competition (First Prize ex-aequo, 1997), Nippon International Harp Competition (sixth prize, 1996), Dutch National Harp Competition (second prize, 1997). As an orchestral player she has worked as Principal Harpist in the Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest Amsterdam and further held the position of harpist of the RTE Concert Orchestra Dublin. Maria has worked for years in the area of contemporary music, with MusikFabrik Köln and Remix Ensemble Porto. She has premièred over fifty pieces for solo harp and harp in ensemble, including Arc Song by T. Hosakawa at the Darmstadt Festival in 2002 with Peter Veale (oboe).
Maria holds Bachelor and Master's degrees from Dublin, London, Den Haag and Bruxelles, where she studied with Susanna Mildonian. She is currently completing an artistic Ph.D. at Leiden University, The Netherlands.
Maria teaches historical styles, improvisation and chamber music to both modern and historical harpists. She has taught at the Guildhall School of Music London, Conservatories of Singapore, Brisbane, Venice, Padova (2005-2008), Krakow Academy of Music, Sibelius Academy Helsinki and the Haute École de Musique de Genève. She holds the position of historical harp professor in Verona Conservatory, Italy. In 2016 she will join the renowned team of teachers at Urbino Summer Music course and will give a masterclass at the Juilliard School of Music New York.
Davide Monti is a violinist who combines his infectious energy with an exceptional talent of being a completely natural performer. A much sought-after director, soloist, concertmaster and chamber musician, his playing has been described as “phenomenal”, a “top solo violinist” with “incredible freshness” where “all appears extraordinarily spontaneous and organic”. His prize-winning recordings include his version of Vivaldi's Four Seasons which has been reviewed as “definitely one of the best versions of the decade”.
After the degrees from the Conservatories of Parma and Verona, Davide’s playing has evolved and developed thanks to his ongoing research on historical practices, and many collaborations with great musicians of our time, each noteworthy for their own individual approach to music: from Ton Koopman to Michael Radulescu and Gabriel Garrido, from Alberto Rasi, Stefano Veggetti and Susie Napper to Enrico Gatti, Enrico Parizzi and Stanley Richie (his violin teachers), from Emma Kirkby to Roberta Invernizzi and Gemma Bertagnolli, from Sergio Vartolo to Lars Ulrik Mortensen and John O'Donnell.
Davide is known all over the world for his passion and charisma, and for creating a special sound. He has been leader/soloist with The European Baroque Orchestra (EUBO), Il Tempio Armonico (recording the complete orchestral works of F.E. Dall’Abaco), Accademia Arcadia Australia, Ensemble Elyma, Athestis e Accademia de li Musici, Verdi Baroque Orchestra, il Complesso Barocco, Cordia. He was guest director and soloist with Tafelmusik Toronto in 2014. Due of the depth of research and syntony achieved, he is also noted for his work with small chamber groups including Accademia Strumentale Italiana, Ensemble il Falcone, and Arparla with his wife the harpist Maria Christina Cleary.
Davide focuses on the art of improvising, where the experience of extemporaneous communication parallels other art-forms such as jazz, theatre, traditional music, dance and fencing. He considers the score to be a canvas in which each performance and interpretation is different and vital.
Davide has taught on many occasions, giving master-classes in Conservatories and Universities in Italy, France, Ireland, Norway, Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, Japan, Singapore, Australia, Canada, and Uganda, always emphasising the role of improvisation in historical informed practices. He has also taught historical improvisation at the Conservatory of Vicenza. In 2015 he founded The International School of Improvisation which dynamically embraces a multidisciplinary approach.
The recordings of Arparla, with harpist Maria Christina Cleary, include So mach’ die Augen zu, the first ever CD of Louis Spohr’s music using original instruments and historical performing practices. Their second prizewinning CD, Le Grazie del Violino, is a journey through some of the most beautiful Italian sonatas of the 17th century. Arparla is specialising in the complete works by Marco Uccellini, and after releasing Canzoni over Sonate Op 5, the very first book of solo sonatas for violin and basso continuo, they have just finished recording his most famous sonatas for violin, basso and basso continuo from Op 4.
Davide likes to speak with his violin, a Guadagnini dated 1766.