National Harp Day 2018Dublin Highlights
Lexicon Cultural Centre Dún Laoghaire
A harp marathon was staged once again this year and featured as many as 50 harpers performing from 11am-4pm. There was a marvellous variety of talent and skills with harpers as young as 8 years taking to the floor to share their tunes. Ensembles from DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama, harpers from Ann Jones Walsh’s class, Dalkey School of Music, Churchtown School of Music, Bray Harp Ensemble and Monkstown CCÉ harp ensemble were interspersed with soloists and duets on both pedal and Irish harp. Thanks to all for participating and to Barry Ó Séanainn for volunteering to do the heavy lifting on the day. There was a great buzz in the library and it was brilliant to see and hear so many harp players of all ages and at every stage of prowess. Our thanks to the County Librarian, Mairéad Owens and her team at the Lexicon and to Ciara King of the dlr Arts Office.
DIT harp ensemble joined forces with six members of the Bray Harp Ensemble on Ireland AM on Friday 19 October to promote National Harp Day. Wearing Harp Ireland branded T shirts, they performed Looking at a Rainbow Through a Dirty Window, a piece written by Scottish composer Calum Stewart and arranged by Rachel Duffy. Fiona Gryson flew the flag very ably for Harp Ireland in her interview, and thanked everybody who facilitated the occasion. There was palpable excitement around the performance, we got great coverage and everybody thoroughly enjoyed the occasion.
The Bray Harp ensemble enjoyed collaborating with sean-nós singer Lorcán Mac Mathúna as part of his Dinnseanchas project, which illustrates a symbiotic link between traditional music and storytelling, and the physical landscape. This involved performing new arrangements of traditional Irish tunes and songs alongside singers and musicians from Cumann na bPíobairí Uilleann. The music was interspersed with accounts collected through the Irish Folklore Commission’s School Collection between 1937 and 1939 in Dún Laoghaire Rathdown, interpreted by traditional storyteller Seosamh Ó Mhaolalaí.
The musicians learnt a lot about tempo and balance and enjoyed playing with singers for the first time. They rehearsed with the rest of the group in Monkstown in the weeks leading up to the concert, where they had a lot of fun working on introductions for the pieces and chords to accompany the tunes.
The concert took place in the studio space in the Lexicon in Dún Laoghaire and was a huge success.
Royal Hibernian Academy
Teresa O Donnell, Karen Leitner and Ann-Marie O Farrell scored a first with their pop-up concert in the RHA, where gallery audiences were enthralled by pedal harp and flute and solo harp performances from all three musicians. Thanks to the RHA for its support.
Royal Irish Academy of Music
Harp students at the Royal Irish Academy of Music staged a pop-up concert there, which was welcomed by students and parents passing through the doors of the Academy.
Some of our best young harpers were featured in a Cairde na Cruite concert, which was recorded by Virgin Media One, and broadcast at a later date as part of the footage of the inaugural National Lottery Good Causes Awards, for which An Chúirt Chruitireachta was shortlisted. A full house and enthusiastic audience were captivated by the superb standard of playing by solo and ensemble harpers at the event. Thanks to all the harpers who performed, and to harpers from Louth Music Generation and their Director Deirdre Ní Bhuachalla, who hotfooted it from Dundalk for the occasion.
The Historical Harp Society held its showcase event Listen, Learn, Play hosted by Siobhán Armstrong, Simon Chadwick and Sylvia Crawford. Once again, attendees were entranced by the beautiful sound of the early harp performed by Siobhán and Sylvia, and were very taken with its historical context set by Simon. This was followed by a concert featuring early and Irish harps, with Siobhán once more taking the stage, and followed by a lovely combination of harpers’ music, airs and dance music from Alannah Thornburg and Cormac de Barra who had arrived just in time from a transatlantic flight. We were delighted to see him!