Native of Ireland, Maria Cleary holds degrees from Dublin, London (Trinity College), Den Haag and Bruxelles. She studied harp with Susanna Mildonian and Andrew Lawrence-King. She is currently completing an artistic Ph.D. at Leiden University, The Netherlands.
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 World Harp Congress in Sydney. This was the first time the harpe organisée was featured at the Congress. As soloist she was prize winner at Utrecht Early Music Competition (1997), Nippon International Harp Competition (1996), Dutch National Harp Competition (1997). She participated at the International Harp Competitions in Israel, Geneve, Bruxelles and Madrid.
As an orchestral player she has worked as Principal Harpist in the Koninklĳk Concertgebouw Orkest Amsterdam and further held the position of Harpist at the RTE Concert Orchestra Ireland and worked in numerous orchestras in The Netherlands and Germany. 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).
Specialising in historical harps, Maria 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 performed with most Baroque ensembles throughout Europe. Maria performs regularly with Davide Monti under the name Arparla, a violin/harp duo specialising in the repertoire from the 17th century to the 19th century.
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 give a masterclass at the Juilliard School of Music New York.
Teaching languages: EN, DE, NL, ES, IT, FR, PT.