Biography

Natalia Mann is known for her creative and contemporary style of harp playing.  She works internationally as performer, composer, collaborator and recording artist.  

Casual smiling image of Natalia Mann, against a textured wall, harp in background, grainy finish.  Photograph by artist Ferhat Akay.

Natalia Lagiitaua Mann was born in New Zealand in 1975, of Samoan and Anglo-Celtic descent.  She began studying classical music at the age of four when her family lived in Los Angeles, her primary instruments being harp and piano.  She continued her studies in New Zealand, and at age sixteen began playing for the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, new music ensembles, opera, ballet and theatre.  Her main harp teachers were NZSO harpist Carolyn Mills (Lucille Lawrence) and later Xanya Mamunya (Alice Chalifoux) with whom she obtained her degree in classical music perfomance at the Victorian College of the Arts (Australia). 

Curiosity led her to explore other forms of music, and she realised her passion for improvisation.  In 1996 She moved to Melbourne, Australia where she immersed herself in the vibrant international folk and roots music scene.  She collaborated with various artists in meditation music, pop, jazz, hip hop, lounge, experimental, abstract, and other contemporary styles. Celebrating her Pacific Island heritage in the process, she co-founded the award winning Samoan trio Suga, and the Brown Roots Pacific arts collective.  She was an original member of the Turkish groups Gece and Unified Gecko, and avant-garde improvisation trio Shima.  

From 2005 - 2013 Mann lived in Istanbul, Turkey, working closely with virtuosic percussionist Izzet Kizil.  She performed alongside Turkish classical master and composer Göksel Baktagir in their Tellerin Arasinda (Between Strings) project, a meeting of harp and kanun featuring the two musicians.  During this time she was inspired to pen her own compositions and released her first collection of pieces as the album Pasif.ist on the Rattle NZ label in 2011, which reached #4 on the NZ album charts while on national tour with Bic Runga. The Natalia Mann Trio with Dine Doneff (Greece/Macedonia) and Izzet Kizil (Turkey/Kurdish) was brought together in during that recording, and later performed at the Istanbul Akbank Jazz Festival 2013. 

In abstract and conceptual music, Mann has worked with sound artists David Long, Ros Bandt and Erdem Helvacioglu and ethnomusicologist Robert Reigle.  Work and performance with mentor Richard Nunns and taonga puoro, soundworld of the Maori, enrich her perspective of this field of music, and its relationship to culture and the earth.  Her documentary project Illuminations on Consciousness explores synaesthesia and collective consciousness in relation to art and nature. Inspired by the philosophical approach of John Cage, her installation Space Harp no.1 (2013) is based on his compositional processes.  She exhibited her first lightscores for resonance music Musique Concrete (2014) in Wellington, NZ. 

Mann was recipient of the Iosefa Enari Award for Music from the Creative New Zealand Arts Pasifika Board (2013), and has been awarded grants from Creative New Zealand in support of  the Pasif.ist album (2010), the Natalia Mann Trio (2013), and the upcoming Mercury album (2014) with David Long and Richard Nunns. She was composer/performer in collaboration with Neil Ieremia - Black Grace contemporary dance company (NZ 2011). 

Her work is unified under the title Weaving of Perceptions, stemming from the indigenous philosophy that a Truth is more dimensional, more resonant for being seen from not one but many perspectives. The world itself being a sonic place, and we sonic creatures, Mann's present perspective, discusses the nature of resonance and environmental harmony as an extension of the musical activity.  

Natalia Mann © 2012; designed by design4music.org