Manja Smits became the first harpist to receive the Netherlands Music Prize, the highest state award for classical music in the Netherlands. She also was a prizewinner in the ‘Torneo Internazionale di Musica’ in Rome.
After her studies in the Netherlands she was granted a scholarship from the Dutch Government to perfection her art with Prof. Vera Dulova at the Tschaikovski Conservatory in Moscow. She attended masterclasses with Pierre Jamet, Susann McDonald, Andrew-Lawrence King and Germaine Lorenzini. Her repertoire ranges from Bach to Berio.
She appeared on radio and television and is regularly invited to perform in festivals all over the world such as: Berio ConSequenze Festival, Gubaidulina Festival, Holland Festival, Peter de Grote Festival, Flemish Chambermusic Festival , 4th Festival ‘Harp Art of Russia’ (Moscow), International Harp Festival in Fukui ( Japan ), Rio Harp Festival (Brazil), Harpe Diem (Belgium), Spring Harp days in Szeged (Hungary), Vienna Harp Days, World Harp Congress…
As a soloist she performed with Nieuw Sinfonietta Amsterdam, the three dutch Radio Orchestra’s, the Gelders Orkest, Ensemble XXI (Moscow), Northwest Sinfonietta (USA), the London Festival Strings and ‘Deutsche Kammerakademie Neuss’.
Several dutch composers dedicated new works for harp to her.
Amongst others she recorded French chamber music with the Renoir Ensemble, the CD ‘Mobile’ with oboist Pauline Oostenrijk, ‘A l‘espagnole’ with the Ensemble ‘Les Quatre’, ‘Music for Flute and Harp’ with Maurice Heugen and her solo CD appeared on the Vanguard Classics label.
After a period as solo-harpist of the Residentie Orchestra in The Hague she decided to concentrate on her solo-career, chamber music and coaching of young harpists.
Manja is a passionate educator and shares her musicianship with her students at the ArtEZ Conservatoire of Music in Zwolle, the Prins Claus Conservatoire in Groningen and at the Muziekpakhuis in Amsterdam.
In 2008 she founded the annual Harp Summer Masterclass in la Roche sur Foron, Haute-Savoie, France.
She is regularly invited for masterclasses and as a juror in national and international competitions.
Manja is a member of the board of the Harp Society of the Netherlands and artistic director of the national Rosa Spier Harp Competition.