Director's report 2016
Our theme this year was the music of Arthur Ó Néill, the early Irish harper and Belfast Harp Society teacher who played in Belfast in 1792 with the other harpers attending the Harpers’ Assembly that year, and who died 200 years ago this year, in 1816. Dr. Colette Maloney of Waterford Institute of Technology was our guest speaker at the opening on Wednesday, 17th August, outlining for us the major milestones in Ó Néill’s life.
The Scoil staff tutors – Ann Heymann [USA], Siobhán Armstrong [IRL], Simon Chadwick [Scotland] and Sylva Crawford [IRL] – explored his harp music and songs over the next five days in intensive classes, workshops and masterclasses.
Particularly memorable for me this year were Simon Chadwick’s groundbreaking presentations on his new ideas about historical stringing parameters for medieval Irish harp and the repertoire that ought to be considered for the instrument. Also Ronan Browne’s use of archive recordings from the late 19th- and early 20th-century to wake up our ears to questions of style in the performance of historical Irish music.
One of our two commissioned Connemara Rose Mooney harps, built for us by Natalie Surina, was ready in time for students and staff to enjoy playing it at the Scoil for the first time. Nails v. no nails was a thread running through the Scoil this year, given that we were dealing with 18th-century music, and this was the ideal instrument on which to contrast the different approaches.
Once more, Míchéal Ó Catháin joined us to record Scoil events for the Irish Traditional Music Archive. We remain delighted that ITMA is now archiving the work of the summer school each year and sending an early Irish harper to do the filming!
Pat Glavin, our wonderful cook, produced many delicious lunches for us again this year, one of the agreed highlights of which was his Indonesian spicy squash and coconut soup starter on Saturday 20th August!
Enormous thanks to all who made Scoil na gCláirseach possible this year: An Chomhairle Ealaíon; our patron, Jane Carter; Fáilte Ireland & IPB Insurance; Kilkenny County Council; Music Network and the Dept of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht; our HHSI Yellow Brass Supporters, Associate Members, Scoil students and auditors; Maura Ó Cróinín & Galway Early Music; John O’Neill and St. Mary’s Cathedral; The National Museum of Ireland; The Old Library, Trinity College, Dublin; the Guinness Storehouse; and John Elwes. A complete list of our Supporters can be seen here: http://www.irishharp.org/supporters.htm
My particular thanks to Scoil Assistant Director, Simon Chadwick and HHSI Treasurer and Scoil administrator, Sylvia Crawford, who both work tirelessly to administrate Scoil na gCláirseach with me; to Natalie Surina, our administrator at St. Kieran’s during Scoil na gCláirseach; and to Maura Ó Cróinín, our PR officer for 2016 HHSI summer events.
To get a flavour of the 2016 summer school, you can shortly have a look at our photo album here, once we upload a selection of photos: http://www.irishharpschool.com/2016/photos
Director, Scoil na gCláirseach—Summer School of Early Irish Harp
Chair, Historical Harp Society of Ireland