The Bionic Harpist

Alex Tibbitts

Development / Performance

Alex Tibbitts’ performance The Bionic Harpist is the result of a 4-week residency at Quebec City’s Avatar arts centre, in collaboration with MUTEK Festival.

Working with John Sullivan, music technology researcher and Ph.D candidate at McGill University, Tibbitts has created a bionic harp designed for her haptic explorations, bound to offer a highly physical and visually captivating performance. Moreover, her personalized control interface will also allow her to modify visual elements, resulting in an impressive 1-person live A/V show.

The work began in 2017 with an exploratory investigation around gesture, sound and electroacoustic harp performance, and has evolved into the development of bespoke hardware to augment the concert harp and a responsive system for Tibbitts to mix acoustic harp with sampling, looping and processing of audio and visual content for immersive live solo & collaborative performance.


California-born, Montréal-Based Alex Tibbitts is The Bionic Harpist, quite literally. Classically trained, Tibbitts has since been dedicated to new forms of gestural and digital augmentation of the harp. Through real-time processing during her performances, she joins her instrument in a symbiotic dance, a metaphorical image made even more relevant by the fact that half of her body contains metal. She holds a Masters in Interpretation as well as a Diploma in Orchestral Repertoire, and is a member of McGill University’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Music Media and Technology (CIRMMT) since 2016. Along with other musicians, Tibbitts founded Ensemble ILÉA, an electroacoustic improvisation ensemble, and has participated in writing academic articles dedicated to her area of research, such as Gestural Control of Augmented Instrumental Performance: A Case Study of the Concert Harp (2018).

avatarquebec logo