Jennifer Port’s Summer Message

A warm hello and a big wave to all members,  Lockdown continues for those of us in Scotland, but I know our English members have seen some easing of restrictions. Despite the horrible impact of the virus and changes we have all had to adapt to, there have been plenty of highlights for us harpers. I’m sure many of you will have enjoyed the time and opportunity at home to play your clarsach more, and you may well have ventured into the world of online lessons; teaching or being taught from the other side of the country, and in some cases, the world.  Our office staff, Glenn and Toby, continue to work from home, doing an excellent job ensuring all Clarsach Society and EIHF matters are handled quickly and efficiently.  I doubt face-to-face branch activities will return any time soon, but it’s heartening to see online branch events occurring throughout the UK. If you need help promoting or advertising your branch, please contact the National Office.  As well as the AGM being cancelled, the Executive Council and Music Committee meetings due to have taken place last weekend were also cancelled. Hopefully by November, the infection rate will be less and we can return to our usual meetings schedule and activities. However, as the situation is ever changing and the serious risk to health and life is real, we will not risk anyone’s health for Society matters. If need be, we will postpone again or conduct the meetings online for as long as it takes.  Lockdown has been difficult for us all in lots of different ways, so please don’t hesitate to contact me if you are needing a friendly ear – convenor@clarsachsociety.co.uk I hope you all can take comfort from family and friends, near and far, during these difficult times. We are in complete lockdown in the far north Highlands, and I count myself lucky to be surrounded by my little gang; here is our family ‘lockdown doorstep photo’. Our new arrival is expected in only 11 weeks! (L-R: Graeme, myself (+bump!), Campbell, Freya, Imogen and Alyth) Stay safe and take care,...

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Highland Branch News

SUMMER 2020 The Highland Branch’s annual workshops were held as usual in January and February and proved to be very popular, to the extent that we had to bring in some extra tutors and planned an extra workshop in March! Unfortunately, the last two workshops, as well as the final concert, had to be cancelled but we hope to hold something similar when possible. We also recently announced the winners of our Young Composer’s Competition. With so many talented young players in the Highlands adjudicator Corrina Hewat had a tough time judging! Some of the entrants have recorded their compositions, which can be viewed on our Branch Facebook...

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Glasgow Branch News

SUMMER 2020 With such a sudden change to the world, many of us here in the Glasgow branch have been enjoying all the online harp videos going around.  The Virtual EIHF was a real highlight, of course! Our committee member, Rachel Hair, has been using the new technical skills she developed through putting the festival online and has created a great online course of her own – www.rachelhair.com/harpathome   For some members, lockdown life sounds a bit more like Ali Mac’s experience which inspired this hilarious new song! As a way to keep harping, we’ve put together a padlet of resources for our members, linking to online courses, lessons, music videos and concerts.  The padlet is a fun and user-friendly way to compile all these things hopefully keep us all going while we can’t meet in person. Musical greetings to all the other branches from Glasgow.  Looking forward to whenever we can all play some tunes together...

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Northumbrian Branch News

SUMMER 2020 Hello from the Northumbrian branch. It seems such a long time since we were able to meet and play our harps together. Rest assured we are still playing – our tablets, laptops and phones have proved to be very useful in bringing us new music to learn and enjoy. The virtual harp festival helped to bring us together – the workshops and concerts were very much appreciated and greatly enjoyed by our members. The Northumbrian branch would like to thank all of those involved in putting the Festival together. It was a tremendous achievement and a great success. Thanks also to Rachel Hair for all her hard work in providing online tuition which some of our members are enjoying. Thanks too to Isobel for sending out her music. For some of us as instrumental teachers, we are making use of Skype, Zoom etc to give online lessons. It is challenging and sometimes frustrating, but it is keeping music making alive and well. We hope it’s not too long before we are able to meet up and play our harps together...

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Jenny Mackenzie

It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Jenny Mackenzie, a former member of our Executive Council. Jenny was originally a member of The Edinburgh Branch of The Clarsach Society before moving to Fort Augustus, where she founded The Highland Branch. She had been resident in a care home in Daviot, south of Inverness. Jenny is survived by her two sons Jamie and Torquil and her grandson Ossian, who now runs Old Pier House, a family-run B&B she owned in Fort Augustus. Jenny will be remembered with great fondness and respect by everyone who had the pleasure to know her. She was in her...

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Isle of Lewis Branch News

Clarsach life is quiet just now in the Outer Hebrides as our individual clarsach lessons are cancelled.  However we are going to try a ‘Virtual Clarsach Ensemble’ on Saturday 11 April.  Màiri Macleod, our tutor, reckons it could be difficult but not impossible so we are going to give it a go!  We’ll let you know how we get on.

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Bristol & West of England Branch

SUMMER 2020 The Bristol & West of England Branch has continued its monthly meetings in 2020.  In January we met to learn some Burns tunes in preparation for Burns night.  In February we went over some of the repertoire we learned during 2019 and in March we learned Irish tunes in honour of St Patrick’s Day. Sadly we have had to cancel our meetings for the foreseeable future, including our forthcoming workshop with Lauren Scott in May, but we hope instead to welcome Lauren at a later date.  We are currently looking into the possibility of holding virtual online meetings for our branch instead of our physical gatherings and some of us plan to “attend” the online Edinburgh Harp...

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Transpennine Branch News

We had our very last play together a couple of weeks ago, and with just 5 of us rattled off a couple of new tunes.   We are looking at using the technology to have small groups to play together; our tutor, lovely Lucy Nolan, is going to record harp parts from our current play list so that we can keep practising… We are so disappointed that the EIHF is not happening but excited and delighted that the Festival team have pulled together the virtual festival.  The harp community is certainly coming together, sharing music and offering tutorials – being there for each other in what is a worrying time economically as much as anything for all our artists and performers.  Sending love and prayers from the Transpennine Group. Harps at a pantomime! At the beginning of February, four of our members played their harps for the amateur production of Sleeping Beauty in Burley-in-Wharfedale, West Yorkshire. The harps provided a beautiful and enchanting atmosphere as the audience entered and during the interval, they gave magical sound effects for the fairies, and a very interesting sequence of harp music during a theatrical dream sequence. From one of the reviews: “You’ve not lived until you’ve heard the Star Wars theme played on harps.”  An interesting experience, as the harps need to coordinate with the stage manager, cast and lighting, and we received many appreciative comments from audience...

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