Petra van der Heide studied with Erika Waardenburg, Maria Graf and Charlotte Cassedanne, and has participated in masterclasses with Susann McDonald and Tanya Tauer. At the age of sixteen, she performed on the Focus on Youth Concert at the World Harp Congress in Vienna.
She is the recipient of various prizes at both Dutch and international competitions including the National Competition of the Foundation for Young Musical Talent in the Netherlands and the Edith Stein Competition.
Van der Heide was based in Germany from 1993 to 2003, where she played in the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Munich. She held the position of principal harpist of the Darmstadt Opera from 1998 to 2003.
Van der Heide was appointed principal harpist of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in August 2003. She also performs chamber music as a member of various groups – with brass, string and woodwind instruments.
She constantly encourages composers to write new works for harp and has performed at various contemporary music festivals, such as the Donaueschingen Festival, the Darmstadt International Summer Courses for New Music and the Düsseldorf Festival.
She gave a solo performance of Debussy’s Danse sacrée et profane as part of a Nederlands Danstheater production in 1991. Van der Heide is a guest teacher at the Utrecht and Amsterdam conservatories, where she teaches courses in taking auditions.
Petra van der Heide plays two harps which are on loan from RCO donors’ foundation Stichting Donateurs: a Camac harp and a Horngacher, built in 2008 and 2015 respectively. The Horngacher harp was partly funded by private donors and partly by contributions through an Interest Bonus Action by ING Bank.