London & South East Branch Report 2020

Between July 2019 and February 2020 our branch held playing meetings and workshops in Surrey, south London, Hertfordshire, Hampshire/Berkshire, Suffolk, and Birmingham.  These included informal playing sessions without an invited tutor, as well as organised workshops.

In the Hampshire/Berkshire area, branch members enjoyed an afternoon workshop with Stephen Dunstone, learning a couple of his ensemble arrangements.  In what has become a tradition, several members performed Carols with Harps concerts at the beginning of December.

In London, tutors for the monthly ‘Meet and Retreat’ evening workshops included Olivia Jageurs teaching polyrhythms, and Tara Minton teaching a jazz workshop.

The branch also sponsored several Harp Club Oxford sessions, which are taught by Steph West in Oxford for ages 8-18.

Our branch annual residential Clarsach Course which is always held at the end of September in conjunction with Benslow Music in Hertfordshire was again well-attended and proved very enjoyable, led by two inspiring tutors, Keziah Thomas and Rachel Hair.

We had been very much looking forward to welcoming Isobel Mieras to our branch to teach an ensemble workshop day in May, but unfortunately like so much else, that event had to be put on hold.

Our last face to face meeting was in February, but in the months during lockdown, many branch members enjoyed being able to access the Virtual EIHF and other on-line (non-branch) workshops and concerts, including workshops taught by Ailie Robertson and Rachel Hair, and live-streamed concerts by Harriet Earis and Lily Neill.  Thanks to Keziah Thomas, the ‘Meet and Retreat’ monthly London meetings have continued online.

Charles Hope, our branch harp hire administrator has been kept busy managing our branch hire harps, most of which have been out on hire for most of the year, and our four loan harps were allocated to deserving applicants.

Our branch again sponsored the Harp on Wight festival and EIHF.

Anne Chorley and Felicity Merchant