Mary-Jannet Leith joined the University of York in 2023 as Lecturer in Music (Historical Performance). She is a Scottish recorder player, researcher, and educator, specialising in historically-informed performance.
Mary-Jannet is a founder member of period group Ensemble Hesperi, which has gained a strong reputation for bringing forgotten musical stories to life through original historical research. Supported by the Continuo Foundation and Arts Council England, she has designed several research-led performance projects, including From Caledonia to the Capital, which brought to life the music of Scottish composers who settled in eighteenth-century London, and Then I play’d upon the Harpsichord, an immersive concert exploring the musical tastes and talents of Queen Charlotte, consort to George III. Hesperi’s 2021 debut album, Full of the Highland Humours, was the result of her extended research into the lives of Scottish composers in eighteenth-century London. As a soloist, and with Ensemble Hesperi, Mary-Jannet regularly performs at leading festivals and venues across the United Kingdom and Europe. In 2018, she won first prize at the Internationaler Gebrüder-Graun-Wettbewerb, and is a laureate of the London International Festival of Early Music Young Ensemble Competition, and the International Van Wassenaer Competition. With Hesperi, she was selected as a Britten Pears Young Artist in 2020, and as a City Music Foundation artist in 2021. Mary-Jannet has appeared regularly on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune and the Early Music Show, as well as recording in studio for Classic FM.
Alongside her freelance performing career, Mary-Jannet commenced a doctorate at the University of Southampton in 2019, supervised by Dr Jeanice Brooks and Dr Jackie Collier, and supported by an AHRC grant through the SWWDTP consortium. Her thesis, From Caledonia to the Capital: Scottish Musicians, Music-Making and Culture in London 1741-1815 (forthcoming, 2024), explores the popularity of Scottish music in eighteenth-century London and the networks through which it was disseminated, enjoyed, and adapted there. In 2021, during a placement at the British Library's Music Collections, she explored the provenance of volumes in the Royal Music Library, and, supported by a Georgian Papers Fellowship, subsequently continued her research into the private musical lives of Georgian monarchs. Her participation in the BBC New Generation Thinkers workshop in 2023 led to an appearance on BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking programme, in which she discussed Queen Charlotte's love of music. Since 2021, she has taught The Grand Tour: Musical Taste and Concert Life in Europe at Lawrence University’s London Centre, and is an enthusiastic instrument coach and recorder teacher.
Playing with the Past: sources and methods in Historically-Informed Performance
Historical Performance Practices (Baroque, Classical and Romantic)