On Saturday I was at Hospitalfield house, near Arbroath. This amazing 19th century country house is now conserved and run as an arts centre. A recent project was to restore the Erard Grecian double-action pedal harp that has been at the house since about 1830.
Saturday’s event was an inaugural concert for the newly-restored harp, and I was asked to give the pre-concert talk on the harp and its place in Scottish music. Continue reading Erard Grecian harp
“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.
Continue reading Playing the harp for Nathaniel Gow
Yesterday I gave my lecture on the clàrsach or Gaelic harp, to the undergraduate students on the Scottish Music degree course at the University of St Andrews.
As is my wont nowadays, I filmed the lecture for you, but there was a mix up with my battery charging, and the camera died 40 minutes in, so you are missing the last 11 or 12 minutes.
Continue reading Colonial views of Gaelic harp traditions
At Scoil na gCláirseach last month I presented a lecture and a workshop on the medieval Gaelic harp traditions. The lecture outlined my recent work on the setup and tuning of the medieval Gaelic harps, while the workshop later in the week explored the different strands of evidence for medieval Gaelic music.
Continue reading Medieval Gaelic harp setup and repertory
Today I presented my concert in St Andrews, “the Memoirs of Arthur Ó Neill”.
I read excerpts from his autobiography, and played the tunes referred to in the anecdotes.
Here is my video of the complete, half-hour performance:
Continue reading The Memoirs of Arthur Ó Néill
Edward Bunting‘s first field notebook, which he used to take down live transcriptions from the old harpers in 1792 and later, is kept at Queens University Belfast, Special Collections, MS4/29.
Usually known as ms29, it is a small oblong notebook stuffed full of sketchy drafts and scribbled transcriptions from the playing of the last tradition bearers.
On page 1 of the book is a two-staff arrangement of “The Banks of Claudy”.
Continue reading The Banks of Claudy
Today in St Andrews I played the second in this summer’s season of medieval harp concerts. I chose to play the traditional piobaireachd, Cogadh no sith (war or peace), re-imagined as a medieval ceremonial march for the Lords of the Isles.
Continue reading A half-hour pibroch
I think I first played a public concert on the harp almost 10 years ago, on 4th October 2006, for the first ever Friends of Wighton lunchtime concert in the Wighton Centre in Dundee.
But yesterday’s in St Andrews was the first I have ever tried filming.
Continue reading Concert in St Andrews
When Iris Nevins gave me the Arnold Dolmetsch harp no.10, it had a bad soundboard crack. Closer inspection showed that the entire area where the neck attached to the soundbox was also loose.
I had promised Iris that I would get the harp up and running and do a video of it being played, so first I had to repair it.
Continue reading Repairing, restringing and playing the Dolmetsch harp