The Wire Branch had its highest number of members ever in the year 2019-20.
We held a full programme of nine afternoon workshops in between September 2019 and June 2020, despite the coronavirus restrictions. Many of these took place in Edinburgh, as they have done so for over twenty years, hosted by Tony and Miriam Dilworth, who have generously supported us for such a long time. The workshops were led by Bill Taylor and welcomed players of all sizes of wire-strung and gut-strung harps, at all levels. When the restrictions prevented us meeting in person since January, we moved the meetings wholly online with Zoom. All of our members, including a substantial number who live abroad, could now regularly join the sessions. The arrangements were constructed to involve players at different levels, and included medieval sacred pieces, Gaelic song tunes, traditional airs and even a modern tune.
In August we held a three-day course on playing music from the Robert ap Huw manuscript – the earliest harp music from anywhere in Europe. We were kindly invited to hold the course at the home of branch member Marianne McGhee on the Isle of Bute. As you can imagine, the summer weather and the idyllic setting made for a hugely memorable experience. We had a respectable number of participants (nine) who joined us, and there was a request that we might hold a follow-on series of classes to continue working on the music.
That gave rise to our online Robert ap Huw course, which consisted of one 90-minute session a month over six months, from January through to June. By making the course accessible online, the number of course participants more than doubled. We priced the course to give a branch member discount, and greatly increased our membership. Across the six sessions, we looked closely at two pieces in the original tablature and we look forward to holding another course starting in January 2021.
Additionally, the Wire Branch held a workshop in November for its Highland members, the self-named ‘High-Wire’ group. For the session, Bill invited participants to each bring a melody, with which they would learn arranging skills. We look forward to meeting together again once it is safe to do so.
Four newsletters were issued during the year, including articles about festivals, interviews with members and friends of the Wire Branch, advice on nail care, dates of upcoming courses, etc.
Bill Taylor, Secretary Wire Branch