A native of Cantabria in northern Spain, Javier Sáinz graduated from the Conservatorio de Música Ataulfo Argenta in Santander in 1991 with a degree in classical guitar and music education. Since 1980 he has played early harps, focusing particularly on historical techniques such as playing with nails, selective string damping and (on his Renaissance harp) producing finger-stopped semitones. He plays exclusively historical harps and is an effortless exponent of various styles of sparkling melodic ornamentation.
Javier is a pioneer in the revival of the two early gut-strung Spanish harps: the Renaissance arpa de una orden with a single string row and the chromatic arpa de dos ordenes with two rows of strings. Both a dedicated musicological researcher and a gifted soloist, Javier is one of the first harpists in modern times to play much of the original repertoire for these instruments. He plays exclusively historical harps and recreates a unique part of the sound world of Renaissance and Baroque Spain. He is almost unique in playing directly from Spanish 17th and 18th century harp tablature manuscripts without the need to transcribe them to standard notation.
Another abiding interest for him is the music of Ireland and the Scottish Highlands. He plays Irish and Scottish music of the 16th to 18th centuries on a copy of the famous Lamont Harp: a brass-wire strung Scottish clarsach from c.1500.
Javier Sáinz has performed at harp and early music festivals throughout Europe including the Festival de Música Antigua de Barcelona, the Inverness Harp Festival and the Ciclos de Música y Teatro Medieval de Madrid. He has recorded and broadcast on various European radio stations including Radio Suisse Romande and Radio Clásica RNE.
His first solo recording appeared in 1995: "El Lamento de la Cierva Herida" Sony Classical SK 62257 . He was recently invited by the Scottish Harp Society to take part in a ground-breaking pedagogical CD Rom on the playing techniques necessary for the performance of early Scottish clarsach repertoire.
Javier Sáinz has been, for the last four years, the artistic director of Música Antigua en Santillana del Mar, an early music festival in the beautifully preserved medieval village of Santillana in Cantabria.
Visit Javier's website for photos, discography, music downloads and more information.