• A’ Chlàrsach aig a’ Mhòd / The Clàrsach at the Mòd

    If you didn’t catch the première of our special online performance, celebrating 90 years of friendship and collaboration between The Clarsach Society and the Royal National Mòd, it’s still available to view via the Mòd’s online player:

    Enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime collection of top-class musicians performing and reminiscing, united in their affection for the Mòd and The Clarsach Society.

    The Clarsach Society AGM 2021

    All members of The Clarsach Society are warmly invited to our 2021 Annual General Meeting, which will take place on Saturday 13th November, 11:00-12:00, online via Zoom. 

    Full details – including how to register and how to nominate office bearers – will be issued shortly.

    It’s been a momentous 90th anniversary year, and we hope as many members will be able to join us as possible, as we look forward to the next 10 years!

    Clàrsach at the 2021 Mòd: final call!

    There’s still time to get your applications in for this year’s Mòd, taking place online and in Inverness, 8th-16th October 2021.

    All clarsàch classes will be online this year, and there’s a whole host of events, both competitive and non-competitive, to get involved in – something for every age and level.

    Check out the clarsàch syllabus extract below, or view the full syllabus online.

    If competitions aren’t for you, but you’d still like to take part in the world’s greatest celebration of Gaelic culture, have a look at our two open performance classes: C6 Introductory (for less experienced junior players) and IC2 (open to all adult players).

    The deadline for applications via An Comunn Gàidhealach’s online portal is Friday 30th July 2021.

    For further details on the eligibility and the application process, see the competition rules.


    How do I enter the Mòd?

    Register online at An Comunn Gàidhealach’s online portal.

    Is there an entry fee?

    There is a modest entry fee payable, which goes directly towards funding the Mòd. The entry fees are added automatically during the entry process.

    Is there a time limit for pieces?

    The time limit for each piece is 4 minutes.

    Where can I find more information?

    You can find everything you need to know on An Commun Gàidhealach’s website

    The Iain Macleòid Young Composer Award Winner 2020: Yiota Myserli

    The Edinburgh International Harp Festival and the Clarsach Society are proud to announce that the 2020 winner of the Iain Macleòid Young Composer Award is the harpist Yiota Myserli.  Yiota’s winning composition will be premiered at our festival (online) as part of the evening concert on Saturday the 10th April. 

    Yiota studied music at the State Conservatory of Thessaloniki in Greece and she is currently studying Musicology and Music composition at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and Classical singing/Opera at the Conservatory of St. Paul.

    She is the principal Harpist in MOYSA Youth Orchestra, Greece, and is a member of “Perharps” Music Ensemble.

    Yiota has composed several pieces for solo harp, harp ensemble, chamber music ensemble and arrangements from well-known cinematic works. Her compositions have been recorded on CDs and used in theatre productions, and performed by ensembles, orchestras and choirs, both in Greece and in Italy.

    You can discover more about Yiota from her website and Facebook page.

    Congratulations Yiota!

    Discover more about the Iain Macleòid Young Composer Award.

    Transpennine Harps Spring Strings 2021


    We are delighted to announce that our online activity continues apace! Join us on March 6th 2021 for another workshop-filled day! Lucy and Tamsin will be leading us through a number of classes loosely based around the theme of ‘chords’ – from ‘what exactly IS a chord?!’ for those who are new to music theory to how to actually USE them in your own arrangements.

    There will of course also be the opportunity to learn some new pieces (see programme below for more details), and of course, the TPH Common Room will be open for tea and chat throughout the day. Concert!

    The day will finish with an informal tea concert, where Lucy and Tamsin will be playing a selection of music including their own arrangements and also to showcase some new pieces that have been recently published that YOU TOO can play! Learning materials…!

    All of the sessions will be recorded and the videos of all the sessions will be available to review for FREE to all attendees.

    If you would like to view the materials for a course you did not attend in person, these (along with any relevant sheet music) may be purchased as a digital download for £3.50 and will be emailed to you after the weekend. Using Zoom to access online courses

    If you are unfamiliar with Zoom (though we feel like we are all much more tech-savvy than we were a year ago!), never fear – you don’t need any special equipment other than a laptop/phone/tablet and a reasonable internet connection. It is very simple to use and we are available for any troubleshooting!

    There will be spaces available for private lessons of 30 or 60 minutes with both tutors (£35/hour; £17/half-hour) – please contact them to book a slot and let them know what you’d like to work on so that they can prepare materials in advance.

    For further information, please visit Transpennine Harps.

    Wire Branch Report 2020

    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

    Wales Branch Report 2020

    I took over as Convenor of the Wales Branch on 21st July 2019, following which we held at least one more workshop before playing at a lunchtime concert in St Peter’s Church Carmarthen, where I am Director of Music. We played ten or so of our favourite pieces and all took turns to introduce each item. We had an audience of some 56 including Alan Shiers, founder of Teifi Harps,who was delighted to see and hear so many of his harps being  played. He had made seven of the eight harps that were played that day. We had hoped to return this year but due to the pandemic, the series was cancelled. Hopefully, we will be able to return in 2021.

    On September 15th, 11 of us attended a workshop led by Tamsin Dearnley. She taught us a very pretty piece called ‘Blackberry Winter’. After this we held three workshops in order to prepare for our Christmas outings.  

    The first outing was to the Llandeilo Festival of the Senses, where four of us  played for an hour or so in St Teilo’s church.  We then attended the Christmas Fayre on a very cold December day in a marquee  at Llanerchaeron, where the first person we saw was Marianne , better known as the mother of Catrin Finch! No pressure then! Seven of us turned up for that and we met lots of old and new friends who were milling around and chatted in between spots. This rounded off the year nicely.

    On 23rd February we were very pleased to welcome Monica Stadler back for a workshop, when we did some more improvisation and learned a new piece. 

    Finally, just before lockdown, we enjoyed a workshop with Meinir Heulyn, who brought 2 different pieces with her, one in three  parts and one in four.  I was delighted that Meinir thought the group had improved. 

    Transpennine Branch Report 2020

    A challenging but enjoyable year for TPH – a year of two halves!

    We have monthly core groups; one in the Leeds/Keighley area and one in Old Malton, near York.  Old Malton, led by Annie Jones, has a strong base of 12 members and enjoys a varied repertoire; the West Yorkshire (Riddlesden) group has averaged a core of 16 players at its regular sessions.

    We are so lucky to have two brilliant tutors, Lucy Nolan, who leads the Riddlesden group, and Tamsin Dearnley, who has been holding regular zoom sessions from Toulouse with the Old Malton group.  All our sessions are great fun.  They reflect the diversity of the harp and we are gradually extending our concert repertoire.  

    Lucy went to Old Malton to lead a much appreciated session with them too.   In February, we welcomed Tamsin Dearnley back to do a workshop with each group, again great fun, and that led to the zoom sessions.

    As a result of our ‘Try the Harp’ session we introduced 5 new members to the harp; our harp hire is very healthy, with all harps out on hire. 

    Transpennine Harps’ membership hails substantially from Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, as well as from Lancashire and Greater Manchester.  Although our numbers overall are down this year, we hope to turn this around by extending our online reach as well as our physical meetings.  We do seem to have more coming along to both the physical and online meetings. 

    The latter part of the year has of course provided new challenges to us all, not least improving our IT technical skills!  Importantly, we are not aware of anyone succumbing to the virus.  We have had online committee meetings, and have started online play togethers.  Inspired by the Edinburgh International Harp Festival and the HNW JaNEWary Challenge, we were delighted to have an online workshop led by Mary Dunsford.  We now have YouTube tutorials which we are available to our members.  Everyone enjoyed the experience even though it was different not to be together for large parts of the day.

    TPH is a vibrant group of players from beginners/improvers to more advanced.  We share our passion for our harp, not just by playing together, but also by making friends at our sessions over coffee and home baked cakes!  And even online, we have some good chats and share our harp experiences.  Thanks to the committee and all who contribute so much to creating a very special group.