Katherine Wren

Creator, Curator, Performer (individual)
Instruments Viola, Viola d'amore
Member of: Nordic Viola
Professional skills Programme notes

Katherine Wren is a violist, viola d’amore player and improviser who specialises in contemporary music and its relationship with traditional music. She studied at the University of Manchester and the Royal Northern College of Music.

Katherine is a member of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and in September 2016 she formed Nordic Viola, a flexible ensemble performing and promoting music from the countries encircling the North Atlantic. Katherine received a Special Commendation in the 2020 RPS/ABO Salomon Prize for her contribution to all aspects of orchestral life and her work with Nordic Viola, cited as “a fulfilling new experience for players that has forged lasting links with these communities.” The panel said, “the positive energy and passionate curiosity Katherine brings to the orchestra is inspirational and engaging to all who know and work with her.” She has also been shortlisted on multiple occasions for the Scottish New Music Awards.

Nordic Viola have formed strong relationships with musicians in the Faroe Islands (where they commissioned emerging composer Eli Tausen á Lava and undertook a joint tour with Faroese ensemble Aldubáran in September 2023), Iceland (performing in the Summer Concert Series at the Bláakirkjan, Seyðisfjörður with Arnhildur Valgarðsdóttir and in Mengi, Reykjavik with fellow improviser Charles Ross) and Greenland, where Katherine has worked with composer Arnannguaq Gerstrøm.

Current projects include a three-part series entitled “On a Wing and a Prayer”, supported by Creative Scotland where Katherine will work collaboratively to produce new music alongside composers Renzo Spiteri (Shetland), Pete and Joe Stollery (Aberdeenshire) and Lisa Robertson (West Highlands, exploring the changing habitats and effects of climate change around Northern Scotland. The new works will be linked with existing pieces by North Atlantic composers including Kristian Blak and Anna Thorvaldsdóttir.

Katherine has also recently performed at WayWord literary festival in Aberdeen in a programme of music devised by her and clarinettist/composer Alex South in response to poetry on Arctic exploration and whale song by Lesley Harrison.

In November 2023, Nordic Viola will release their first album, “Elsewhere, Elsewhen,” which links Orkney and Iceland through the sagas and prehistory, giving new voice to stories often told from a female perspective by women composers. The album also explores issues of migration, human and avian, and reflects on the beauty and wildness of Shetland and Greenland. 

Katherine spends as much of her spare time outdoors as she can. She’s rarely seen without a bike and learned to cross-country ski in Greenland!

News and New Projects Histories and Herstories, On a Wing and a Prayer, Sagas and Seascapes, Elsewhere, Elsewhen - CD and Digital Album from Nordic Viola
Year of birth 1968
Contact email


Title Year composed Instrumentation Genre
Lagarfljót 2019 Solo instrument
Meditation on Da Day Dawn 2020 Solo instrument
On a Wing and a Prayer - Shetland 2023 Ensemble (no conductor)
See the full list of works by Katherine Wren


Date Title Venue
2 Jul 2021, 5:50 p.m. Birds and Landscapes of the North Stromness Town Hall, Stromness, Scotland, UK
2 Jul 2021, 5:50 p.m. Birds and Landscapes of the North Stromness Town Hall, Stromness, Scotland, UK

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