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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Beltane 2012

Sue and her new Trinity.

The hawthorn tree behind the house is in full bloom, and the young Winter King hawthorn, planted in our garden three springs ago with buried offerings, is close to blooming.  This evening I stepped out and tied ribbons on its branches in honor of Beltane.

After a long, difficult break, I am harping again.  It has been a dark winter of illness:  one I am grateful to put behind me.

Not long ago I ordered Simon Chadwick’s new CD, Old Gaelic Laments.  He has assembled a selection of deeply moving and beautiful songs.  Just now I am listening to The Clarge’s Lamentation.  Watch for a review of the CD as soon as I have had a chance to listen carefully a few more times to each of the tracks.  To pique your interest, here is a video clip of Simon performing King James’s March to Ireland/Lochaber/The Wild Geese about a year ago.

Beltane Blessings of good health, fine music, and the gifts of the otherworld to each of you.

In gratitude for returning health,

–Sue

New Trinity College Harp

Freshly strung, on its first outdoor excursion, and not yet in tune. Photo by Sue.

It’s here! It’s here.

I’ve had a hectic week since the arrival of the new Trinity College harp on Wednesday. I had asked my luthier, David Kortier, to let me string it. Suffice it to say that several times this week I have wondered about that decision, but let me tell you, it has been a highly useful education in a very compressed period of time. I’ll write about it shortly. For now, here is a photograph of the Trinity taken just around the corner from my house, where there was a patch of shade on a warm summer afternoon.

Over the past several days friends have stopped in to visit, and to meet the new instrument. One jokingly referred to the four pieces of the unstrung clarsach as “some assembly required.” My former teacher, Doug, who had been gently harassing me for months about my decision to commission this instrument, which I suspect he thought wildly extravagant, came by yesterday, and while both the student Trinity and the new replica were out, he couldn’t keep his eyes off the new arrival. He picked it up, inspected every surface, and after a good, lengthy visit, seemed to be almost as smitten with it as I am.

I’ll post reports shortly on the process of transferring gold from one instrument to the other (so far, so good!), and will tell you how things settle in.

Now, back to tuning. The whole instrument is still 2 notes below its final tuning, and I’m bringing it up gradually.

–Sue

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