Historical Harp Society of Ireland

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Director's Report - Scoil na gCláirseach 2014

Director Siobhán Armstrong,
Assistant Director Simon Chadwick,
and Lecturer Karen Loomis
International historical harpists Ann Heymann, Siobhán Armstrong, Andrew Lawrence-King and Javier Sáinz, together with new tutor, Sylvia Crawford, were our staff tutors this year at the twelfth Scoil na gClairseach—Summer School of Early Irish Harp. Scoil Assistant Director, Simon Chadwick, was also our in-house staff lecturer. He was joined by guest lecturers Karen Loomis, Paul Dooley and Ite O'Donovan. We heard many interesting papers, performances and experienced lively workshops and masterclasses in addition to each day's intensive tuition and late-night music making!
Young students studying diligently!

Our 21 enthusiastic students came from three continents: from Kilkenny people to visitors from Japan. We had teenagers to retired people, total beginners to professional performers, graded in classes appropriate to them.

Highlights of the year for me included Karen Loomis's lecture on her latest work on the Queen Mary and Lamont harps at the National Museum of Scotland; Thomas Zapf's demonstration of his working replica of the chromatic Irish 'Cloyne' harp and Simon Chadwick's talk on what he had uncovered about the life and music of 18th century Scottish harper-composer, Raghnall Mac Ailein Òig. You can see the complete timetable of events here:

The public concert in the Chapter
House of St Mary's Cathedral
We heard the wonderful voice of young sean-nós singer Aodán Ó Ceallaigh for the first time at our public concert in Kilkenny, and our advanced song class students got to benefit from tuition time with him. Uilleann piper Ronan Browne joined us as a concert performer once again this year and ravished us with performances of the old laments Caoine Uí Dhonaill and Caoine Uí Néill on his unique 1760 Kenna pipes.

To get a flavour of the 2014 summer school, have a look at our photo album here:   http://www.irishharpschool.com/2014/photos/ You can also visit us at http://www.irishharp.org, where you can see the lovely promo short that cinematographer Carlo d'Alessandro and the Scottish company, Siubhal, put together about our summer school.

Ann Heymann leads a workshop
We had a relaxed trip to Dublin on the last day, to see and examine many of the surviving harps in museum collections.

I would like to thank the following people for their help and support:

An Comhairle Ealaíon/The Arts Council who have financially supported us through their Festivals scheme; Music Network  and The Dept. of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, who have funded the purchase of harps for us this year; our generous patron Jane Carter; and our other supporters and Society members, who kindly support our work. Our complete Members, Supporters and Patrons list can be visited here:http://www.irishharp.org/patrons.htm

I would like to thank Philip Edmondson  and  Kilkenny School of Music for our summer school venue and John O’Neill and St. Mary’s Cathedral for hosting our Kilkenny concert.

I would also like to give my most heartfelt thanks to the HHSI team behind our summer school and concert series: HHSI Hon. Sec. and Scoil Assistant Director, Simon Chadwick; Sylvia Crawford, our treasurer and administrative assistant,  and our PR officer, Natalie Surina.

Maura Uí Chróinín of Galway Early Music has our gratitude for the lovely concert poster design she made for us.
Our thanks also go to John Elwes and Oisín Hahessy for their kind logistical help. Finally, I would like to thank each student and auditor who joined us in Kilkenny, making the whole week possible.

Best wishes,

Siobhán Armstrong
Director, Scoil na gCláirseach—Summer School of Early Irish Harp