about May

May read English at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, before gaining a Distinction for her master’s studies in ‘modern’ violin at Trinity Laban and continuing her studies in baroque violin there and at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague.

May has learnt from many of the leaders of the early-music field, having studied the baroque violin with Kati Debretzeni, Margaret Faultless, Walter Reiter, and Nicolette Moonen; participated in masterclasses with Jordi Savall and Adrian Chandler; and performed in projects directed by Frans Brüggen, Barthold Kuijken, Jaap ter Linden, Peter Holman, and Richard Egarr. May has participated in side-by-side projects with the Academy of Ancient Music and with the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century. She has participated in the Dartington International Summer School and in La Petite Bande Summer Academy, directed by Sigiswald Kuijken, where she performed as soloist in Haydn’s Sinfonia concertante. She has played violin, viola and medieval fiddle with groups such as Charivari Agréable, Armonico Consort, Amadè Players, Chelys, Music for Awhile, Covent Garden Sinfonia and Joglaresa.

May believes in thorough study of historical sources to inform performances that communicate with emotion, commitment and intensity. She is a passionate recitalist, and is particularly interested in seventeenth-century music, Bach, and French style. She likes playing from facsimiles of original scores. May is also a natural modal improviser, working on personal improvisations and compositions as well as collaborating creatively. Committed to cross-cultural collaboration and to learning from multiple styles, May has studied Indian-style violin and accompanied the Odissi Ensemble; paired solo Bach with kathak dance; and worked in a duo collaboration with famed Pakistani folk singer Arieb Azhar.

Singing from childhood alongside violin playing, May sang with her college choir at Cambridge whilst holding a university instrumental award. She then sang with the Old Royal Naval College Chapel Choir and with Joglaresa.

Alongside music, May likes plants, animals, and books; she enjoys writing and is an aspiring analyst in the tech industry. She grew up in remotest Cornwall and likes being near the sea, but makes do with the Thames for now.

May Robertson playing the baroque violin in London, leading baroque ensemble
photo: Simon Ballard