Janet Harbison was born in Dublin in 1955 and came to early prominence as a classical pianist as well as a traditional Irish harp player. At Trinity College Dublin, the Dublin College of Music and Cork University, she studied performance, composition and conducting.
By 1981, she had won every national Irish harp competition including the All Ireland Championship and a number of international prizes including the Isle of Man Millennium Competition and Festival International de laHarpe Celtique.
After some years of performing world-wide and composing film music, she became involved in working with music toward peace in Northern Ireland. In 1984, she was awarded a Research Fellowship at the Institute of Irish Studies at Queen’s University where her doctoral research concerned the Irish harp in Irish life and politics in the late 18th century.
Her wish to bring the old Irish harp music to a world audience, as well as to bring musicians together in the divided community of Northern Ireland, lead to the formation of the Belfast Harp Orchestra in 1992. Over 10 years, the orchestra undertook many concert tours of Ireland, the UK, America and Europe, winning a Grammy Award with the Chieftains and many prizes for their work in Peace and Reconciliation.
In 2002, Janet moved her harp activities to the Republic of Ireland to set up the Irish Harp Centre in Limerick, close to her family roots in the beautiful countryside of the mid-west. From here, she continues to perform, compose, write, record, teach and produce the Irish and National Harp Orchestras.