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Maja Elliott

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Maja Elliott in her study

Maja Elliott is a pianist and composer of ambient music and jazz. Her music is in part inspired by Debussy and Nordic modern jazz. She combines classical, jazz and ethnic influences with an intuitive flair for improvisation. "Maja’s piano playing has touched me. She is so sensitive, holding notes in fearless witness of subtle emotions", said Antony and the Johnsons.


Elliott was born in Abu Dhabi and was raised by her Swedish mother in Dorset, England. Her father, a notable British architect John Elliott, is known for designing the Emirates Palace.

One of Elliott's early piano teachers was David Hellewell, under whose guidance the young prodigy won competitions and appeared on BBC and Hong Kong TV. She was a music scholar at Bryanston School. Later she studied in Guildhall School of Music and Drama. The UK-based publication Cross Rhythms called Maja "British Classical Pianist with Taste for Jazz".[1]

Musical development and Multiculturalism[edit]

She has performed and improvised with many writers and poets, including Jeremy Reid, David Tibet and Russian writer Margarita Meklina. For ten years she played and toured internationally with Current 93 and recorded on many of their albums eg Soft Black Stars and Hypnogogue, for which she improvised the whole album, inspired by the imagery of the text by David Tibet. As the contemporary music resource Brainwashed mentions, "Maja Elliott's impressionistic, Debussy-esque piano is the sole instrument. Her sad, skittering melodies serve to underscore Tibet's rhymeless, alliterative balladry. There are times when the piano brilliantly punctuates a passage, and others where its complex swirl of sound competes with Tibet's intense delivery."[2] She also performed with Steven Stapleton (Nurse with Wound) for the Scribble 7 concert as well as with Will Auldham, Antony and the Johnsons and Simon Finn.

In the presence of the Irish President Michael D. Higgins, she synchronised live piano to a film about the Irish poet Richard Murphy. With Russian-born writer Margarita Meklina, Ms. Elliott composed music-to-text and performed in Ireland, Great Britain, Russia and Sweden. She also composed, played and improvised for documentaries and films, most recently for a short film starring Patrick Bergin called “Native.”

Elliott's musical multiculturalism culminated in multidisciplinary performances "Emigrant Elegy", at Galway Fringe Festival (with Dublin poet Gerry McDonnell), and "Pulse of The Past: Memories of the Jewish Diaspora" taking place during the Irish National Heritage Week in the Dublin Irish Jewish Museum in 2017[3]. The latter event was covered by The Irish Times[4] and by RTÉ (Radio and Television of Ireland)[5] and gathered an unprecedented number of people who came to listen to Ms. Elliott's singing in Yiddish.

Culture and Education Director of the museum, Yvonne Altman O'Connor, stated, "There was a unique event held at the Irish Jewish Museum in Dublin last Sunday. Musicians and writers came together to explore the theme of the Jewish heart in exile. Entitled "Pulse of the Past, Reviving Memories of the Jewish Diaspora", the programme was filled with soulful music from singer/composer Maja Elliot on piano and violin, klezmer clarinettist Alain Halimi and Yiddish singer Carl Nelkin as well as readings from local poet Gerry McDonnell and Russian writer Margarita Meklina. They took the audience on a literary and musical journey from Tsarist Russia to Dublin, Argentina, France and New York in a moving tribute to the migration of the Jewish people. The museum was so pleased the audience (which was full to capacity) was so appreciative of the multi-talented ensemble which gave such an evocative performance."[6]



Further reading[edit]

External links and References[edit]

"British Classical Pianist with a Taste for Jazz" - The journalist Alison Pooley interviews the young pianist

Category:20th-century classical composers Category:21st-century classical composers Category:Female film score composers Category:Living people Category:Minimalist composers Category:People from Abu Dhabi Category:Postmodern composers Category:Female classical composers Category:Postminimalist composers

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