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

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

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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!

–Sue

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

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

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