Harps Alive Festival 2023
An all-island celebration of Irish harping
Some 231 years on, harp music resounds…..Harpers and historians join forces in Belfast and Dublin to celebrate the Irish harping tradition.
Now in its second year Harps Alive (Harps Alive│An Chruit Bheo│Harps Leevin) is a cross border collaborative festival, which brings together the finest harpers from across the island to celebrate the significance of the landmark event of the Belfast Harp Festival 1792. An event, that through the work of Armagh-born Edward Bunting, resulted in the collection of the music and techniques of the Irish harping tradition; a collection which is central to the continuity of the Irish harping tradition today.
Cruit Éireann | Harp Ireland, working in partnership with Reclaim the Enlightenment, present the Harps Alive | An Chruit Bheo | Harps Leevin festival in Belfast, on September 30th and in Dublin on October 21st – 22nd, 2023.
The festival will bring together harpers from all over Ireland to assess Edward Bunting’s legacy, showcase the harpers’ music, and bring a contemporary spotlight to bear on current developments to safeguard harping as a living tradition in Ireland.
A dynamic series of cross-community and cross-border events featuring two major concerts, a series of recitals, talks and workshops remembering the contribution of Edward Bunting 180 years after his death, is planned in the two cities.
Chair of Cruit Éireann | Harp Ireland Aibhlín McCrann, stated, ‘It is very satisfying to see our collaboration with our northern colleagues coming to fruition, and to gain such understanding of the important role that the Belfast Harpers’ Assembly played in the safeguarding of the harpers’ music. Our work together has been a true partnership, epitomised by collegiality, enthusiasm and positivity”.
John Gray, Chair of Reclaim the Enlightenment, considers this event to be “a major musical festival rooted in history. A celebration of the heritage of the harp and the contemporary revival of harp playing”. He considers that it will continue to “create more awareness of the harp tradition with the public and leave a lasting legacy”.
The success of last year’s Harps Alive festival has inspired harpers to further explore the music of the Irish harp. This year the festival commissioned County Antrim harper Gráinne Meyer, to arrange music for the newly established Harps Alive Ensemble. The commission will be premièred at a concert on 30 September in Rosemary Street Church, Belfast at 5.30pm which also features early Irish harper, Eibhlís Ní Ríordáin, the Northern Stars Trio, and harp and pipes duo, Laoise Kelly and Tiarnán Ó Duinnchinn.
“We are looking forward to celebrating this work and to welcoming audiences across the cities of Belfast and Dublin this autumn”, said Lauren Ní Néill, Cruit Éireann|Harp Ireland’s CEO. “Our exciting line-up of harpers shows that the harping tradition in Ireland is vibrant, dynamic and constantly evolving. It is part of our living cultural heritage, and we are intent on celebrating Edward Bunting’s achievement and safeguarding it for future generations of harpers”.
Saturday 30th September
|25-29th September||Primary School Harp Series||Various|
|11.00-13.00 ||Hands on Harps Workshop Series|
Workshop 1: Try your hand at the early Irish harp with Eibhlís Ní Ríordáin
Workshop 2: Irish Harp Workshop with Gráinne Hambly
Workshop 3: A Masterclass with Richard Allen
First Prebyterian Church
Shankill Road Library
St. Joseph's, Sailortown
Film Screening - Beart Bunting
|13:00 – 14:00||Ceol agus Cruitireacht le hÚna Ní Fhlannagáin | Harping Fun with Sharon Carroll|
Harp, storytelling, drama and singing workshops for children in English and Irish with Sharon Carroll and Úna Ní Fhlannagáin
|An Cultúrlann | Turas|
|13:00 – 14:00|
|Illustrated Lecture with Mary Louise O’Donnell & Teresa O’Donnell: Edward Bunting: Illuminating his Legacy||Linenhall Library|
|14:30 – 15:30|| |
Featuring the Harps Alive Ensemble’s specially commissioned work, Northern Stars Trio, Early Irish Harper Eibhlis Ní Riordáin, Harper Laoise Kelly & Piper, Tiarnán Ó Duinnchinn
Harping Late: Harp session and get together.
Rosemary Street Church
The Deer’s Head
Harps Alive│An Chruit Bheo│Harps Leevin continues in Dublin on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd October with a Gala Concert in the Pepper Canister Church, Dublin 2. This event features a newly commissioned poem remembering Edward Bunting by Aosdána poet Moya Cannon and harper Aisling Lyons, the Harps Alive Ensemble, Maria McNamee(pedal harp), early Irish harper Siobhán Armstrong, Triona Marshall (harp) and Martin Tourish (Accordion).
|Date / Time||Event||Venue|
|Primary School Harp Series||Various|
|Saturday 21st October |
13:00 – 14:00
|Harping Fun with Aisling Ennis|
A fairy-themed harp and storytelling workshop for children with Aisling Ennis
14:30 – 15:30
Film Screening: Beart Bunting
Lecture with Mark Doherty: Edward Bunting: Illuminating his Legacy
|Sunday 22 October|
11:00 – 12:00 noon
|Remembering Edward Bunting |
Aisling Lyons & Moya Cannon
|Mount Jerome Cemetery, Harold’s Cross, Dublin 8|
|Sunday 22nd October|
10:00 – 14:00
11: 00 – 13:00
|Hands on Harps Workshop Series in collaboration with the Royal Irish Academy of Music|
Learn, Listen, Have a Go!
Try your hand at the early Irish harp with the Historical Harp Society of Ireland
Workshop 2: A Masterclass with Richard Allen
Workshop 3: Irish Harp Workshop with Aisling Lyons
|The Royal Irish Academy of Music|
|Sunday 22nd October |
|Harps Together: Siobhán Armstrong, Moya Cannon & Aisling Lyons, Maria McNamee, the Harps Alive Ensemble, Martin Tourish & Tríona Marshall||Pepper Canister Church|
Full programme of festival events is available at: harpsalive.com