Maja Eliott was born in Arabia and is of Swedish/Irish/English descent. She began playing piano by ear at the age of five. At twelve she made her first BBC TV appearance and encouraged by composer David Hellewell and his wife Monica she performed extensively in her teens, including a tour in Hong Kong and China.
She went to London to train to be a concert pianist and also studied singing and composition. She was very influenced by the imagery and symbolism of Debussy and Maurice Ohana, minimalist composers Steve Reich and John Adams and the meditative quality of Arvo Pärt and John Taverner. Also inspired by jazz – Miles Davis, Zawinul, Keith Jarrett and Bill Evans – she started writing for modern jazz ensembles.
Her vocal inspiration comes from traditional singing of Ireland (which has been her home during her adult life) and also of Arabia. She sings in Irish (Gaelic) and English. Fascinated by East European music, she lived in Hungary and Romania for a while to learn cymbalom (Hungarian hammered dulcimer) and speaks Romanian.
Recent performances have been in San Francisco and Venice where she performed solo and with the group Current 93. In November she performed and improvised ‘Hypnagogue’ at the British Academy in Rome with David Tibet and cellist John Contreras. She has worked with Current 93 since 1998 when she played piano for the classic recording ‘Soft Black Stars.’
‘…a voice of soaring beauty’
‘Her compositions shimmer in the dreamscapes of Debussy and Coltrane’