Pale Rays of Sun at the Winter Solstice

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Entrance to Bru na Boinne. Photo by Sue, 2009.

Today I awoke to a gray morning, but within an hour the pale December sun, low in the sky, asserted itself and softened the day.  This morning in Co. Meath, Ireland, people gathered in the dark passage at Newgrange to welcome the beam of sun down the shaft of the tomb.  The sun came out in time to illuminate the interior of the passage–for the first time since 2007.

The inside of the tomb is elegantly carved and constructed.  Recently I happened upon a high quality virtual tour of the interior. at Voices from the Dawn.  While I’ve visited the actual site twice, I’d recommend the virtual tour for a closer, leisurely gaze at the features of the interior.  Here it is.  Notice that there is a clickable link to either a regular or tablet version.  You might also enjoy a post from this blog entitled Winter Solstice in the House of the Dagda.

And now for a glorious concert by Ann and Charlie Heymann, performed at the Moore Institute at NIU Galway earlier this year, where Ann enjoyed a fellowship.  The title is:  Guth Binn agus Téada Oir: Bardic Voices, Horns & Medieval Harps.  Ann and Charlie perform a number of bardic pieces, some quite experimental.  The Donegal singer, Lillis O Laoire, performs with them.  This is a highly unique and rare opportunity to see Ann perform in concert, and it is well worth watching.

With warmest solstice good wishes,

–Sue

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Winter Solstice Musings, 2012

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The Trinity on Solstice day, 2012.

This has been a week of visiting friends, harping, sleep, walks outside on windy days, and of course, an opportunity to write and take stock of the year that has passed.

I am fortunate to be awash in music right now:  music that I want to sing, hope to play, and music that is moving through me all the time.  Something that has been slumbering has awoken, and I am the grateful beneficiary of the muses’ largesse.

A few summers ago I visited the Boyne river valley in Ireland, and walked around at Dowth, the lesser-known mound with a Winter Solstice alignment.  It’s within easy viewing distance of the more famous Newgrange.  Perhaps there will be recent photos added soon.

Settle down with some mulled cider and candlelight, and enjoy the following:

My friend and teacher, Simon Chadwick, plays a spare, beautiful Advent tune, Veni Emmanuel, from a 13th century French manuscript.

Vicente de la Camera Marino, who lives in the Canary Islands, recorded a piece entitled “Bid to Me,” by Lawes.  Here he is playing his handsome MacDonald clarsach.

A joyful solstice to you all, and a Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate it.

–Sue

Interview with Ann Heymann, Siobhán Armstrong, and Talitha MacKenzie on Irish Radio

The 10th annual Scoil na gCláirseach in Kilkenny, Ireland has just ended, and why not find out more about some of its most interesting tutors and students?

Students at Scoil na gClairseach, 2009. Photo by Sue.

Here’s a link to an interview on KCLR, a radio station in Carlow/Kilkenny, Ireland.  You’ll hear Siobhán introduce the program with a brief history of the Summer School of the Early Irish Harp, with a delightful, intelligent explanation of replica harps, and how they are different in sound and materials from modern harps.  She clacks on her deliciously resonant soundbox for the benefit of the listeners, and goes on to play Eleanor Plunkett by Carolan on her Kortier Trinity College harp.  Then Talitha MacKenzie offers a brief example of puirt-a-beul, or mouth music, and the master of the instrument, Ann Heymann, closes with a short piece she learned from the fiddler James Kelly.  Check it out, as I don’t know how long the link will be active.  A special thanks to scholar Karen Loomis for pointing out the interview.

Wishing you a fine late summer,

–Sue

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