Shirley Smart has had an unusual and diverse career. After studying at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, she performed with the London Symphony Orchestra and made a concerto debut at the Heritage Museum in St. Petersburg. She also gave a concert of trios with renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma at the Barbican.
Shirley embarked on further study in Paris with Janos Starker, with Steven Isserlis and Ralph Kirshbaum at IMS Prussia Cove and at the International Menuhin Academy in Switzerland. Soon after she left the UK for Jerusalem.
Although she initially went for a year, Shirley became involved with various musical projects, met many musicians and friends, and ended up staying for 10 years. She joined the Moroccan jazz fusion group Sound of the Ground–the result of a chance meeting in a Jerusalem restaurant, which led to many other projects playing Arabic, Oriental and North African music with groups including Sabreen, Tarshika Orchestra, Khaled Jubran, Radio Effendi, al-Farabi Trio, Maurice El-Mediouni, and oud players Bilal Irshed, Haytham Safia and Nizar Rohana.
Shirley also studied jazz improvisation on cello and piano at the Jerusalem Centre Creative Music, run by saxophone player Arnie Lawrence, and subsequently joined his both band, and several other jazz fusion projects. She has toured most of Europe, Russia, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco as well as playing all over Israel and Palestine ( and occasionally getting caught in the crossfire….)
Shirley studied musicology and English Literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and was a tutor of Cello for several years at the Edward Said Conservatory of Music in Ramallah. She acted on several occasions as a deputy teacher of Cello at the Tel Aviv Conservatory of Music and now teaches Musicianship and Improvisation at the Royal College of Music Junior department.
Since moving back to London in 1999, Shirley has quickly established herself of both the jazz and World Music scenes. she has performed at arts centres and festivals around the UK, and the Channel Islands, and has worked with, among others, Neil Cowley, Robert Mitchell, Gilad Atzmon, Yasmin Levy, Antonio Forcione, Attab Haddad, Julian Ferraretto, Partikel, Maurizio Minardi, Al-Andaluz, Yazid Fentazi, Khyam Allami, Tamer Abu-Ghazaleh, Alejandro Toledo and the Magic Tombolinos, Shekoy’okh, Komsos, Sefiroth Ensemble.
She has performed at venues including the Barbican, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room, Kings Place, Ronnie Scotts, 606 jazz Club, Vortex, Brunel Museum, The Forge, National Theatre, Green Note, Rich Mix and also runs a regular world music night at the Green Note in Camden, and a world music jam session at the Ritzy in Brixton.
She also leads her own North African/world music band, Melange. Other current projects include duos with pianist/accordionist Maurizio Minardi and guitarist Peter Michaels, ARA Trio with guitarist Maciek Pysz, Sawa Trio exploring iraqi folk music with Alya Marqhardt and Clemens Poetzch, and “Shortt and Smart” – a shared evening show with comedienne/cellist Kate Shortt.
Shirley speaks Hebrew and Arabic, likes playing tennis, and has a massive soft spot for kittens..and hedgehogs…..
For more information visit www.shirleysmart.com.