Harping at the Portland Highland Games

ImageHere’s an exciting development:  for the first time, the Portland Highland Games, taking place next Saturday, July 20, 2013, will include harpers.  A friend of mine made it happen, and I’m proud of her as well as impressed.  I’ll be there with my Trinity College harp to talk with visitors about the clarsach traditions and the 20th/21st century revival of interest in this magnificent instrument.  Here is the schedule:

Harp demonstration and workshop:  1pm-2:30pm
Harp circle:  2:30-4pm


Mistral plays at Portland’s Bastille Day celebration, 2013.

In other news, I visited the Bastille Day celebration in downtown Portland today, and enjoyed the set played by my favorite Breton band, Mistral.  I hadn’t seen them perform since the excellent Dark Harvest Ballads back at Samhain.  They were in fine form.

If you come to the Highland Games, please come by to say hello!


(A special thanks to my friend and mentor in Scotland who nudged me about posting.)


Lyres, Ap Huw, Glendalough, and Wales: BBC Documentary on the History of the Harp

Glendalough. Photo by Sue, 2010.

I confess that I am normally not very interested in documentaries featuring modern harpists doing their thing, but this BBC short film, about an hour in length, provides some interesting clips of early lyres unearthed in Iraq, bray harps, early Irish or Gaelic harps, the Robert Ap Huw MS, and a visit to Glendalough, the monastic community in the Wicklow Mountains of Ireland that I had the pleasure of visiting in the summer of 2010.  I’ve added time stamp information below the video to help you find the bits that I found most interesting, but you may prefer to just watch the whole thing.  Special thanks to my friend Sam Tyler for sharing the video.

Time Stamps:

2:20:  Early harp discoveries in Ur, Iraq. Photos of lyres found in 1929 royal grave.  Lyre of Ur reconstruction.
3:50:  Visit to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to visit with Alemu Aga, who plays a buzzy, delicious sounding lyre as a sacred instrument to accompany spoken words.
7:25: Anglo-Saxon lyre and vocals by Bragod perform a snippet of the Gododdin.
8:30:  Bill Taylor and Robert Evans introduce the bray harp and the Robert Ap Huw MS
10:30:  more on Robert ap Huw MS, including images of the MS tablature.
12:30:  visit to Glendalough in Co. Wicklow, Ireland, with Paul Dooley playing a snippet of Kaniad y Gwynn Bibydd.
16:00:  Alan Stivell on the harp revival in Brittany.
19:20:  Andrew Lawrence-King, who teaches at Scoil na gCláirseach, plays triple harp.
23:00:  interview with Llio Rhydderch, traditional Welsh Triple Harp teacher and player, who discusses learning and teaching via the oral tradition.

Wishing you all a very happy New Year celebration,


Cunningham Wire Strung Harp for Sale

Cunningham harp

A close friend, Kathleen Staub, who is a well-known lever harp teacher in Portland, is offering her Cunningham 33 string modern wire strung harp for sale.  I have no financial interest in the sale, but am posting it for my friend.  Please take a look at her website for further information, and kindly contact her directly if you are interested in further information.


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