Playing the harp for Nathaniel Gow

“Nathaniel Gow’s Dance Band Concert” last night at the Edinburgh Assembly rooms was far, far more exciting, beautiful and moving than I had expected. The venue was just stunning, the band was amazing, the dancers were elegant and alluring, the programming was just perfect and the audience was almost full and really engaged with the entire project.

Nathaniel Gow’s First Set of Quadrilles, from 20th Jan 1817

I played my 10-minute set, at the beginning of the second half,  and I filmed it for you.

The acoustic of the room was wonderful for the music, but harder for speaking, so I made sure to speak slowly and clearly. The space was so inspiring, though the light was not ideal for playing the harp, with the planked floor behind the strings!

I was overall pleased with my tunes, which are difficult for me to play since I’m not used to this Romantic style or to playing with fingertips instead of long nails. I am quite excited by this approach to the music, however. I felt that there was more relevance or resonance with wider culture doing this  – too often, historical music can be a little dry and intellectual, interesting but distant from the lived experience of ordinary people. But the Regency ball setting seemed to speak to people in a very direct way, and the early 19th century Irish harp music seemed to flower and become very vivid and authentic in that context. It felt a lot more “normal” to be doing this there, than it did to be playing re-imagined medieval music on the Queen Mary harp in the National Museum for the BBC last year.

Congratulations to Talitha MacKenzie for organising such a successful event. If you want more, there’s always the Regency ball she’s organising in the Assembly Rooms ballroom on 11th March. Tickets & info here.

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