Winner of the Jakez François International Celtic Harp Competition 2004.
Catriona was brought up in Dundee , Scotland where she was involved in traditional music firstly through her father who was a member of Scottish folk bands “The Livingstones” and the “Taysiders”. She was introduced to classical and contemporary music by her mother, a ballet and dance teacher.
Catriona became harp champion at the O'Carolan International Harp Festival (Keadue, Co. Roscommon )when leaving school. A desire to master harp techniques to an advanced level took her on to study pedal harp, Celtic harp and electro acoustic composition at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama where she gained a first class honours BA and several solo and chamber music prizes.
She then was awarded a Caird Trust scholarship and an Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music scholarship to attend Royal Northern College of Music for postgraduate studies with Welsh harpist Eira Lynn Jones. She joined Yehudi Menuin's Live Music Now! scheme in 1999, was a finalist for the BBC Radio 3 ‘Young Musician' 1999 and was a NFMS (National Federation of Music Societies) Young Concert Artist for 2000/01.
It was at the RNCM where Catriona met fellow student and classical/jazz bassist Matt Baker, with whom she recorded an album along with percussionist Iain Copeland and fiddler Chris Stout on her own record label Glimster Records. Described by the Glasgow Herald as a “ sparkling gem of an album ”.
Catriona writes and arranges music for the ensembles she works with. She performs as a recital artist, concerto soloist, chamber musician and is a keen performer of contemporary classical music as well as following her roots by continuing to play traditional Scottish/Shetland/Irish music. Due to this mix she was chosen to represent Scotland in a collaborative with Brazilian musicians funded by the British Council “ Orquestra Scotland Brasil ”. The return trip for the Brazilian musicians took place at the end of 2003 when they toured the UK .
Catriona plays harp and piano in the Shetland-based band Fiddlers' Bid with whom she tours worldwide. They received nominations for “Best Contemporary Live Music Presentation” Australian Entertainment Industry Association's Helpmann Awards (2002) and “Best Live Act” at the Scottish Folk Awards (2003). Their new cd “Naked and Bare” (Greentrax 2005) has acclaimed reviews such as " another first class collection… Superb music from superb musicians”, "a consolodation of their reach and territory…sumptuously layered, almost symphonicsounding” and heralded as “ A success on all counts ”.
Catriona is a member of the Chris Stout Quintet who released their first album ‘The First O the Darkenin' in April 2004. Their CD has been described as “ An absolute masterpiece ” (Irish Music Magazine) and “sheer musical poetry” (Box and Fiddle).
Catriona and Chris Stout have consolidated over 10 years of performing as a duo with a long awaited cd “Laebrack” (Greentrax October 2005). Reviews include “ remarkable duo … cutting-edge of traditional music in the 21st Century .“ (www.musicinscotland.com) “ It's a musical 'tour de force' that demands listening. The playing is quite excellent .” (www.allcelticmusic.com) “rooted in their traditions…brimming with contemporary influence,.. A lesson in harp and fiddle playing, and a delight to the ear. (Scotsman on Sunday)
As one of the country's most versatile and creative harpists she has played sessions on many recordings , including artists Tommy O'Sullivan, Flook, Justin Currie, Ewan Bremner, Belle and Sebastian, Duncan McCrone, Brazilian pianist Christianne Neves and composer Sally Beamish.
In 2003 leading electro-acoustic composer Alistair MacDonald composed a piece for Catriona called “ The Saluation” for clarsach and electroacoustic sounds and in April 2004 she premiered a specially commissioned piece by the Clarsach Society for Catriona and organist Simon Nieminski (St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh) by Scottish composer Eddie McGuire “Parallel Dimensions” for clarsach and organ . The performance took place at St. Mary's Cathedral on 3 rd April as part of the Edinburgh International Harp Festival 2004 to a sell-out audience.
Catriona was a performer in the award winning Grid Iron theatre co. production “ The Devil's Larder ” specially commissioned for the Re-Location Festival in Cork , Ireland as European City of Culture 2005. They took the show to the Edinburgh Fringe and won Scotsman Fringe First, Herald Archangel, Total Theatre Award and The Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award which takes them to New York in 2006 to perform the show at “Performance Space 122”, 150 First Ave. at E. 9th St .
Catriona has devised a new harp that has been designed and made by Scottish harp makers " Starfish Designs ". It has a new tuning pattern, designed for use in contemporary folk music. The “ Starfish McKay ” harp is unique and is an experimental and exciting step in a new direction for the evolving tradition of the Celtic harp.
As one of the finest and most versatile and skilled harpists Catriona continues to be at the cutting edge of harp music as she develops her interest in experimental music and improvisation. Catriona and leading electro-acoustic composer Alistair MacDonald are now working and performing with the combination of clarsach and live electronics.
Catriona won the “ Jakez François International Celtic Harp Competition 2004 ” held in Nantes, France and represented Scotland at the World Harp Congress 2005 .
“Totally in charge of her instrument and mistress of her craft” Irish Music Magazine
Catriona has taught many harp courses and workshops/masterclasses in various countries including USA , Switzerland , England , and Ireland , extensively in Scotland as well as the Edinburgh International Harp Festival for many years. She has been the external examiner for the BA Scottish Music at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and has adjudicated several harp competitions including the New Hampshire Highland Games and the Virginia Highland Games, USA .
She is harp and clarsach teacher at Scotland 's specialist music school, St. Mary's Music School , Edinburgh and has been a guest harp teacher at the RSAMD, Royal Northern College of Music, Chethams School of Music, City of Edinburgh Broughton School specialist music department and Limerick University Irish World Music Centre.