Cara Dawson is an award-winning harpist from England with a reputation spanning various musical scenes. She is a graduate of renowned institutions; Guildhall School of Music and Drama and Trinity Laban Conservatoire with a First Class Honours Degree, and earlier at Chethams School of Music. She now continues with a Master in Harp Performance at Universität der Künste Berlin. Her awards have included the Ida Caroll Award for Strings, Henry Wood Trust Scholarship and the John Marson Harp Award for Outstanding Musicianship.
An experienced orchestral player, Cara has built a career performing in many of the UK and Germany's major concert halls including Barbican Concert Hall, Bridgewater Hall, Royal Festival Hall and Berlin Philharmonie, under the baton of many noted conductors including Susanna Mälkki, Ilan Volkov and François-Xavier Roth. In 2023, Cara was selected as harp academist in both the London Sinfonietta, and Lucerne Festival Contemporary Orchestra.
Cara has received masterclass guidance from some of the world’s leading harpists, including Catrin Finch, Sylvain Blassel, Catherine Michel and Hugh Webb to name a few, and in 2014 attended prestigious course ‘Harp Masters’ in Switzerland where she attended an intensive week of harp tuition, including classes with harpist and conductor Fabrice Pierre.
During her time at Guildhall, Cara played with the Ubu Ensemble and performed many large and small ensemble works of the twentieth and twenty-first century. This experience sparked a keen interest in contemporary classical music, and she now dedicates considerable time to performing new music. Committed to furthering the harp repertoire, Cara now works closely with composers to write new works for harp solo and ensemble, and on multiple occasions these projects have incorporated multi-disciplinary facets such as theatre, electronics, spoken word, improvisations and video projections.
In 2018 Cara co-founded the composer/performer collective 'red panel' which has since been performing in London and Berlin. With members coming from stylistically highly varied backgrounds, ‘red panel’ aims to create unique and holistic sensory experiences. The collective‘s signature events are characterised by specially tailored new works, immersive atmospheric environments and unconventional locations. The group‘s genre-defying performances reveal a wide range of aesthetic influences and a musical language that is situated somewhere between contemporary classical and ambient/drone. In 2022, 'red panel' were runners up in NonClassical's competition for new music ensembles; 'Battle of the Bands.
In 2022, Cara was a semi finalist in the World Harp Competition, and was invited to the Dutch Harp Festival to perform her original programme 'shadows of solitude', a recital of newly commissioned and self arranged works for harp and electronics. Included was a new adaptation of John Cage's 1982 work 'Postcard from Heaven', originally written for 1-20 harps, arranged by Cara for one live harp and prerecorded harps loaded to six boombox speakers arranged onstage, as a response to the solitary nature of music-making during lockdown.
In 2022, Cara started exploring repertoire with flautist Kristóf Siklósi and violist Anna Jurriaanse, and they immediately bonded over their shared interest in similar musics. Together they formed 'Ensemble Utak', and emerged on the scene with a program consisting of trios, interspersed with solos for each of their instruments. This unique format has since become a signature formula for their concerts, allowing the listener to delve deeply into the unique sound world of each instrument. In their dynamic performances, they explore works both old and new for their still-underrepresented formation of flute, harp and viola trio. Their eagerness to pave new paths in their artistic approach, and provide unique musical experiences is reflected in the group's name 'UTAK', which is an ancient Hungarian word meaning routes, roads and ways.