Ursula Holliger has also served as an important advocate for contemporary harp compositions, by recording many modern works and by performing them widely. Numerous composers have recognized her virtuosity and interpretative talent by dedicating works to her or composing for her, including Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Elliott Carter, Hans Werner Henze, Heinz Holliger, Ernst Krenek, Witold Lutoslawski, Frank Martin, Toru Takemitsu and Isang Yun.
In 2005, Ursula Holliger assisted Elliott Carter, perhaps the greatest living American composer, in preparing the final edition of Mosaic, a concerto for the harp. After performing the European permière of Mosaic in Switzerland, Ursula recorded it with the Swiss Chamber Soloists on the 2008 CD “Happy Birthday, Elliott Carter!,” to celebrate Carter’s 100th birthday. She played Mosaic the following April at a concert for Mr. Carter in New York City.
Ursula Holliger participates regularly in the Ittingen, Lucerne and Sermoneta festivals. In 2004, Ursula and Heinz Holliger premièred Harrison Birtwistle's 26 Orpheus Elegies for Oboe and Harp with Countertenor in the Lucerne Festival. She performed Birtwistle's solo work Crowd in Lucerne in 2006. In May 2011, Ursula will perform Frank Martin’s Three Dances for Oboe, Harp, String Quintet, and String Orchestra with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Thomas Zehetmair.
Ursula Holliger has performed in recent years in duos with soprano Sylvia Nopper, tenors Philip Langridge and Hans-Jürg Rickenbacher, flutists Kioshi Kaysai and Peter-Lukas Graf, oboist Heinz Holliger, and with violinist Hanna Weinmeister.
Ursula Holliger taught at the Musikhochschule in Freiburg, Germany and at the Musik-Akademie in her native Basel, where she resides. Presently, she is a Regular Guest Teacher at the Boston Conservatory. For many years she has taught in the summer courses organized in Sermoneta, Italy. Her masterclasses throughout the world have served as inspiration to younger harpists. She often serves as a judge in international harp competitions.
Ursula Holliger studied at the Musik-Akademie der Stadt Basel and at the Conservatoire Royal de Musique de Bruxelles with Mireille Flour (a student of M. Tournier).
Since early childhood Ursula Holliger has and continues to play in benefit concerts, both for churches and for hospitals. She remains active in the work of certain hospitals in Switzerland and Germany. She has great admiration for Dr. Albert Schweitzer, and she serves as a founding member of an organization to continue his spiritual work.
Photo by Martha Stewart