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.)

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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.

-Sue

Samhain 2012

The ancestor altar is built, and so many familiar, beloved faces smile back at me from the altar space in the dining room.  This afternoon I sang to the ancestors as I prepared dinner, and

Samhain ancestor altar, 2012.

lit some candles in their honor.  Last night we attended Mistral’s Dark Harvest Ballads for either the 3rd or 4th time in the past several years.  We can’t quite remember how long we’ve been attending the band’s Samhain fundraiser. This year’s theme, “Fathom the Deep,” was a fundraiser for both a local food bank and for the Newport Fishermen’s Wives charity.

I grew up in northeastern Massachusetts, in a seaport community, and recall the history of shipwrecks on the Atlantic coast.  Not far from home was the famous Gloucester fisherman’s statue in honor of the hundreds lost at sea.  It is inscribed with the quotation from Psalms, “They that go down to the sea in ships.”  Last night’s music was a delicious and haunting assortment of bleak songs about the sea, from The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald to Ship in Distress, and a version of the Twa Sisters.  I delight in Martin Carthy’s version of Ship in Distress, a haunting tale of near-starvation aboard a foundering ship, with shipmates who draw lots to choose a victim among them to die to feed the rest of the crew.  While I miss the old, spookier, crowded and dark location of the event at Hipbone Studio, there was more space and comfort in the new location.  Ian Clemons and Elizabeth Christina are two favorite musicians in Mistral, and Ian’s daughters performed a splendid shadow puppet production of the Greyling, a song about a selkie sung by Elizabeth Christina.  It was a good evening.

Trinity replica on the porch, Samhain 2012.

Last weekend we visited a farm on Sauvie Island and picked pumpkins for our annual display on the porch.  Here’s a photo of the new Trinity replica on a day when we still had sun last weekend.  Perhaps this photograph has become another annual tradition at Samhain.  Better yet, the Trinity sounds even better and richer this year than it did last year at this time.  Best of all, I am enjoying better health this Samhain, and I thank my patron gods and ancestors for that.

Wishing you all the ancestral blessings of Samhain,

–Sue

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