Mary-Jannet Leith

Mary-Jannet is a Scottish recorder player, researcher, and educator, specialising in historically-informed performance. In 2019, Mary-Jannet embarked on a PhD at the University of Southampton, which explores Scottish musicians and musical culture in eighteenth-century London. Please visit the Research page to learn about her work as a researcher and educator.


Education

Mary-Jannet Leith initially studied for a BA in Ancient and Modern History at Trinity College, University of Oxford, followed by a Master in Philosophy in Roman History, also at Oxford. Her Masters dissertation, which focused on reception of the Classics in eighteenth-century Britain, was awarded the Ancient History prize for the highest mark in the Classics Faculty. In 2011, she received a scholarship to study for a Master in Performance at the Royal College of Music, and moved to London to pursue a career in music. During her studies at the RCM, she was awarded the McKenna Prize for Baroque music, and subsequently the Earl of Dalhousie Prize for all-round excellence and commitment, as well as a Distinction in her Masters degree. With her former recorder consort ‘Audite Nova’, she won first prize at the 2012 Sir Anthony Lewis Memorial Competition. While at the RCM, she also won the Audience Prize at the Fenton House Early Keyboard Ensemble Competition, and the Richard III and Century Fund prizes at the RCM Early Music Competition.


Performance

Since graduating from the RCM, Mary-Jannet reached the Section Finals of the Royal Overseas League Competition, and was selected, with her duo partner, Thomas Allery, for the Brighton Early Music Festival’s young artists’ scheme, BREMF Live. Mary-Jannet was also selected to compete in the live rounds of the International Schmelzer competition in Melk, Austria, in 2017; she was grateful to receive a grant from the Walter Bergmann Fund to support her travel and expenses throughout the competition. She was also selected to perform with her harpsichordist, Thomas Allery, at the fringe festivals of both Bruges and Utrecht Early Music festivals in 2017. They won the coveted audience award at Utrecht, selected from more than 70 young ensemble performances throughout the festival, and returned to give a ‘Fabulous Fringe’ concert in 2018 in the Grote Zaal, Tivolivredenburg. In November 2018, she won first prize in the ‘Solisten Instrumental’ category of the Internationaler Gebrüder-Graun-Wettbewerb, Bad Liebenwerda. Since 2018, she has been a Live Music Now! musician, performing in care homes, SEND schools, and community venues, and bringing live music to those who rarely have opportunity to benefit from the joy it can bring.


Since 2019, Mary-Jannet has been delighted to perform throughout UK and abroad with her own period group, Ensemble Hesperi, which has gained a strong reputation for championing rarely-heard music, and for bringing forgotten stories to life through original historical research. Funded by a Lottery grant from Arts Council England, its debut project, “The Pheasant’s Eye”, featuring special choreography from Highland dancer Kathleen Gilbert, celebrated Scottish eighteenth-century music. More recently, the ensemble embarked upon a new project, supported by the Continuo Foundation, “From Caledonia to the Capital”, which told the stories of Scottish composers who settled in eighteenth-century London. In early 2022, the ensemble received a second grant from the Continuo Foundation for its latest project, “Then I play’d upon the Harpsichord”, an immersive concert exploring the musical tastes and talents of Queen Charlotte, consort to George III.


In 2020, Hesperi was selected as Britten Pears Young Artists on the Chamber Music Residence scheme, and in November 2020, won first prize at the London International Festival of Early Music Young Ensemble Competition. In September 2021, the ensemble was delighted to win third prize at the prestigious International Van Wassenaer Competition in Utrecht, and released its debut album with EM Records, “Full of the Highland Humours”, later that year. In December, the ensemble was selected as City Music Foundation artists 2021. Hesperi has appeared regularly on Radio 3’s "In Tune" and the Early Music Show, recorded in studio for Classic FM, and has performed at leading festivals and venues across the United Kingdom and Europe, including Brighton Early Music Festival, LIFEM, Petworth Festival, Lichfield Festival, King’s Lynn Festival, St Martin-in-the-Fields, Snape Maltings, Festival and Alte Musik Knechtsteden.


To learn more about Ensemble Hesperi, head to www.ensemblehesperi.com