News & Events

Jenny Mackenzie

Posted by on May 1, 2020 in Blog, Branch news, Featured, News & Events | Comments Off on Jenny Mackenzie

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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34-string harp, Paddy Cafferky

Posted by on Apr 13, 2020 in Harps for sale | Comments Off on 34-string harp, Paddy Cafferky

34-string harp, Paddy Cafferky

A 34-string harp made by Paddy Cafferky of Galway.  The maker has retired from producing new harps but still offers servicing. There is also a case, some sheet music, small music stand and spare strings included. The harp was made in 1994 and has had one owner. £3000 Ono. Email: alasdaircruickshank@hotmail.com,...

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Iain Macleòid Young Composer Award

Posted by on Apr 6, 2020 in Blog, Featured, News & Events | Comments Off on Iain Macleòid Young Composer Award

Iain Macleòid Young Composer Award

The Iain Macleòid Young Composer Award is an annual competition named in memory of John Macleod. Composers aged between 16 & 25 years of age are invited to submit an original piece of music –  lasting no longer than 10 and no less than 8 minutes – suitable for: a) Solo Clarsach / Lever harp or b) Clarsach / Lever harp and up to 3 other instruments and/or voices. The award is £500 plus a premiere performance at the Edinburgh International Harp Festival. We are now open for submissions of music for 2020. Please read the Terms and Conditions carefully before applying. All submissions should be sent to office@clarsachsociety.co.uk by 5pm on 30th October 2020.  ...

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Isle of Lewis Branch News

Posted by on Apr 1, 2020 in Branch news | Comments Off on 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

Posted by on Mar 31, 2020 in Branch news | Comments Off on 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

Posted by on Mar 31, 2020 in Branch news | Comments Off on 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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Wire Branch News

Posted by on Mar 31, 2020 in Branch news | Comments Off on Wire Branch News

SUMMER 2020 The Wire Branch continues to offer its monthly workshops, but with all the participants now joining online via Zoom. Actually, we had been using Zoom for over a year now for members outside Edinburgh, and it’s funny how it has become such a prominent platform for video conferencing across the world during our time of lockdown. Unfortunately, Zoom let us down rather badly during our most recent workshop, on Sunday 17th May. None of the buttons seemed to work for anyone in the group, and we had to abandon things after trying for about an hour to properly start the meeting. An online search revealed that Zoom had gone down in the early hours of Sunday morning. I hope their engineers are able to repair the fault soon, to allow us to continue making our conference calls. We are approaching the tail-end of our online course on playing medieval Welsh harp music from the manuscript of Robert ap Huw. We have been learning two pieces from the original harp tablature during six 90-minute sessions. The group has done very well, and after completing the first tune, Kaniad Llywelyn ab Ieuan ap y Gof, we are right on schedule to finish the second one as well, Kaniad y Wefl. All that remains is to find a venue to give the student concert! Unfortunately, due to the lockdown restrictions, it appears that we will not be able to hold our summer workshop on the Isle of Bute. We had hoped to meet there for a three-day workshop in early August, playing a variety of medieval tunes. At the moment we are planning to offer that as an online workshop. We have several projects planned for the future, including holding a competition for a new wire-strung composition. Please write to wirebranch@gmail.com for more information regarding any activities of the Wire Branch. SPRING 2020 Far from cancelling all its activities, the Wire Branch continues to offer a full programme during the spring and summer. Several years ago we began to invite branch members to join our monthly Edinburgh workshops online. This allowed members outside Edinburgh to participate in Bill Taylor’s instruction, and we attracted regular interest from those in Japan, England and the USA. Over the months, it was interesting to see that the online students began to outnumber the players actually in our Edinburgh sitting room. We started by using Skype, but it was difficult to hold meetings with groups, and the transmission was not always reliable. With advice from one of our branch members, we began to use Zoom, a platform for video conferencing which is now frequently in the news as a means of social and professional contact. There is an annual charge, which gives us the ability to hold sessions of any length, to accept up to 99(!) participants per session, and to both record the sessions and to store them in the cloud. Participants all appear in boxes on the screen, and everyone agrees to be ‘muted’. If anyone has a question, they simply raise their hand; they ask the question, which everyone hears; then Bill answers the question and the session moves forward. The Wire Branch had planned five workshops playing historical and traditional music with Bill, originally to be held in Edinburgh between January...

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The Lone Harper

Posted by on Mar 31, 2020 in Branch news | Comments Off on The Lone Harper

The lone harper I guess that describes us all right now!  When I started playing the clarsach back in the 1950s it was still  an unusual instrument. There were only 2 other players and my teacher that I knew of in Edinburgh. Playing the clarsach was a lonely life! How different it is now with harp groups, ensembles and orchestras meeting regularly to enjoy the great pleasure of making music together. This joy is temporarily denied to us. I hear great resolutions to make use of this time to practise all the pieces we always meant to tackle, to improve technique or take online lessons. I have made two resolutions. The first is to compose music for the times with a bit of humour and maybe also to console- or even inspire. Attached is the first piece Social Distance Dance – others to follow and all will be free to everyone to share. The second is to set aside my own Harp Half Hour each day just to play through music I  love-starting with my ubiquitous beginners’ piece, Singing Strings (with variations!) and ending with Auld Lang Syne (the lovely original tune). In between I will play my favourite pieces by many arrangers/composers, especially the wonderful Anne Macdearmid and I will sing a song or two. That way I may be alone, on my own, but definitely not lonely. Isobel...

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Edinburgh Branch News

Posted by on Mar 31, 2020 in Branch news | Comments Off on Edinburgh Branch News

SUMMER 2020 It’s probably the same in all Branches – it’s more of a challenge to report on what we’ve been up to when our regular rehearsals have been postponed. However, we’re pleased to share with you news about new music we’ve been receiving on a regular basis. Clearly Isobel Mieras, Rosemary McKerchar and Margaret Collin are determined to make sure we are gainfully employed during Lockdown and they have been producing new arrangements for us – and, of course, we don’t need to be reminded that when na Clarsairean resumes – who knows when? – we will be note proficient and able to impress all three when we perform these for them in due course! No sooner had Lockdown been announced than Isobel composed the “Social distance dance” and the following notes accompanied the music – “to be danced at least 2 metres apart or preferably in separate rooms by no more than 2 people”. Great fun! Many of you will already have received Isobel’s music for “Cherry trees at Merchiston” which was a poignant reminder of the not-to-be “real” Harp Festival but which was replaced by the Virtual EIHF which was an amazing experience and for which huge thanks are due to the EIHF Committee and, in particular, to Rachel Hair who choreographed the whole event with great professionalism and warmth. Since then Rosemary has sent us arrangements of “Over the rainbow” and “Blow the wind southerly” – all beautiful music which is a joy to be learning and practising. In addition we’ve been delighted to have Anne Macdearmid’s arrangement of “The Streets of London” which Rosemary generously typeset for us, based on Anne’s original version. The lovely arrangements of the Gaelic songs “Oran Chaluim Sgaire agus Caolas Sheilte” by Margaret are our most recent pieces and as we work on these – in isolation – we can visualise the stories behind them. Calum Sgaire of Bosta, Bernera, was sailing on a schooner ‘Express’ carrying fish to the Baltic. He was in love with Margaret MacLeod of Breaclete. They planned to marry but Margaret’s parents thought that Calum was unsuitable and married her off to another. Caolas Shlèite (The Sound of Sleat) is the body of water that runs between Skye and the mainland. To help us on our way we have also been provided with mp3 recordings of the music and this has been so helpful. Many of these pieces we would have been performing at our Edinburgh Festival Fringe concert in August but, alas, this will not be going ahead as planned. However, no doubt we will include these at the first opportunity to do an informal concert somewhere, some time. There is now a huge amount of all kinds of music being shared in online concerts, sessions and workshops and music teachers throughout the world are turning to online teaching. Here in Edinburgh most clarsach teachers are connecting to give one to one lessons, some teaching between 30 and 40 students a week. They report that it is more demanding and tiring than the “real” thing, that the sound quality can be variable, but it is very worthwhile at all levels. In some cases, to comply with child protection rules, local authorities do not allow direct one to one lessons and teachers send videos...

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The Virtual EIHF 2020!

Posted by on Mar 20, 2020 in News & Events | Comments Off on The Virtual EIHF 2020!

The Virtual EIHF 2020!

Whilst we cannot all be together this year in Edinburgh, the EIHF still wants to give you the chance to experience some happy harping.  So from the evening of Friday the 3rd of April until the evening of Wednesday the 8th April, we will be uploading daily videos: FREE FOR EVERYONE NO NEED TO REGISTER VIDEOS ON OUR WEBSITE/YOUTUBE/FACEBOOK You will be able to learn some tunes/skills with our 1pm harp tutor videos AND every evening at 7.30pm you will be able to enjoy some fantastic harp music videos. No registration is needed, the videos are free, and will be available to view after they are premiered meaning that they will be accessible in all timezones. Videos will be viewable on our Facebook page, YouTube channel, and hopefully also here on our website.  We’re very excited about this, and we really hope it will make you smile in what is challenging times for us all.    Lastly, if you’d like to keep yourself occupied until the Virtual EIHF begins, many harp tutors and players are offering online harp lessons and have books/cds for sale and download. Please look them up via their website/facebook pages to help support them (take a look at the programme to remind yourself who they are and what you’ll otherwise be missing!). Visit the Festival Facebook page and  website for all the latest news and...

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