Tag Archives: cathedral

Harp concerts in St Andrews

Every summer from 2007 to 2013, I have performed a series of summer concerts for Historic Scotland at St Andrews Cathedral ruins. Unfortunately from 2014 the Cathedral are no longer able to host this popular series.

However, I really wanted to continue with this fine tradition and so we have booked All Saints Church hall on North Castle Street in the heart of old St Andrews. This is a nice arts-and-crafts venue, and I have used it before for a concert.

I also wanted to keep the concerts as free admission events as they have been since the very beginning.

This is where you come in. In the absence of reliable institutional funding, would you be able to help keep this series going as one of the highlights of the summer season in St Andrews?

I have set up an indiegogo crowdfunding page at igg.me/at/harp

Any amount that you are able to contribute will be a great help towards the costs of running this series.

I am planning to run four concerts, on the first Wednesday of each month from June through to September, at 12.45pm.

You can see details of the proposed programmes on the website at
http://www.simonchadwick.net/summer/

Please pass this on to any friends you know who would be interested in helping support the harp concert series. And I hope to see you at the concerts!

Ceòl mór at the cathedral ruins

The Priors House was packed out for today’s cathedral concert. I was apprehensive about presenting a concert of music from my new CD; these grand epic compositions take about 10 minutes to unfold which means that in a half hour concert there’s time for just two. I always wonder if people will just switch off when faced with such a huge wall of music, but once again I was pleasantly surprised by how engaged with this music people were.

My theme for today was “Ranald and the ghost” and I told the story of the Colainn gun Cheann, and the epic battle on the road at midnight between Ranald and the spectre, and I finished the story with the little song that the ghost sings as it fled. Perhaps this kind of all-engrossing narrative with its strong personalities and unexpected plot twists is what keeps the subsequent 10-minute pibroch relevant and engaging. (having told them that the variations are describing the story in music, perhaps there is more pressure on me to draw those different emotive and dynamic aspects out of each variation).

Either way, both of today’s tunes were very well received and people left well satisfied. It’s only a shame that, due to funding cuts, there were only two cathedral concerts this year. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to continue working with Historic Scotland next year on another series of cathedral harp music.

Margaret 1281

On 4th July, I’ll be performing in the cathedral ruins in St Andrews, for the start of my summer series of medieval harp recitals.

Held in the atmospheric surroundings of the ruined cathedral, in the small and intimate vaulted medieval chamber of the Priors House, the concert features the beautiful decorated replica medieval clarsach of Mary, Queen of Scots. I’ll also play a set of tunes on the bowed-harp (bowed lyre, jouhikko, gue)

The programme for July’s event tells the story of Margaret of Scotland, 1281: The story of Scotland and Norway, the Royal Wedding and the lead up to the Wars of Independence.

Using a selection of medieval music and traditional tunes from Scotland and from Scandinavia, the late 13th century history and politics will be dramatically brought to life, as the old ballad says: “The King sat in Dunfermline Toun, drinking of the blood red wine…”

There will be only two cathedral recitals for 2013, due to funding cuts at Historic Scotland. The first concert will be Thursday 4th July; the second will be Thursday 1st August. The events start at 12.45pm.

Date and time:
Thursday 4th July, starting at 12.45pm, finishing around 1.15pm.

Venue:
St Andrews Cathedral
St Andrews, Fife, Scotland
Admission Free
Please collect a ticket from the Visitor Centre: 01334 472563

More info about the summer series at St Andrews Cathedral:
http://www.simonchadwick.net/cathedral/

Future events with Simon Chadwick in St Andrews:

Monday 15th July, 2pm, at the Museum of the University of St Andrews:
An Tarbh – Ranald and the Bull. ‘Pibroch’ music for the harp, composed by one of the last of the old Scottish harpers about three hundred years ago.

Thursday 1st August, 12.45pm, at St Andrews Cathedral ruins:
Colainn gun Cheann – Ranald and the Ghost. Atmospheric harp music telling the stories of supernatural exploits from the 18th century Highlands.

Margaret of Scotland and the Maid of Norway

The next concert in my summer series of medieval harp recitals in St Andrews cathedral is on Tuesday 3rd July, starting at 12.45pm.

Held in the atmospheric surroundings of the ruined cathedral, the programme for July’s event tells the story of Margaret of Scotland, 1281: The story of Scotland and Norway, the Royal Wedding and the lead up to the Wars of Independence.

Using a selection of medieval music and traditional tunes from Scotland and from Scandinavia, the late 13th century history and politics will be dramatically brought to life, as the old ballad says: “The King sat in Dunfermline Toun, drinking of the blood red wine…”

More info about the summer series at St Andrews Cathedral:
http://www.simonchadwick.net/cathedral/

Date and time:
Tuesday 3rd July, starting at 12.45pm, finishing around 1.15pm.

Venue:
St Andrews Cathedral
St Andrews, Fife, Scotland
Admission Free
Please collect a ticket from the Visitor Centre: 01334 472563

Future events in this series:
Tuesday 7th August, 12.45pm: Old Gaelic Laments
Tuesday 4th September, 12.45pm: Heroic music

Cathedral concert

Here is a photo from today’s concert in St Andrews cathedral ruins. There was much interest from the audience in the three instruments I played today – the replica Queen Mary clarsach, the lyre with iron, brass and silver strings and fitted with the replica Iron-age bridge from Uamh an Ard Achaidh, and most of all the jouhikko.

In this photo I am showing off the facsimile of the St Andrews music book, the 13th century manuscript that originally belonged to the cathedral, and which contains a huge amount of early polyphonic liturgical music.

Medieval harp music at St Andrews Cathedral

Simon Chadwick is about to start his much-loved annual summer series of medieval harp concerts in St Andrews Cathedral. The first event in the series is a programme of medieval church music from the 12th century.

The concert is on Tuesday 5th June, at 12.45pm, in the Priors House, a medieval vaulted chamber in the cathedral grounds in St Andrews.

This concert features a programme of sacred music from the medieval heyday of the cathedral, including tunes lifted from St Andrews Cathedral’s own medieval manuscript of sacred chants. There will also be music for St Columba, from Inchcolm abbey in the Firth of Forth.

As well as playing the Scottish monastic plainchant on his beautiful decorated replica of the medieval Scottish Queen Mary harp, Simon will demonstrate other unusual musical instruments that were played in medieval Scotland during the half-hour concert.

Simon is based in St Andrews, and is a specialist in historical Scottish and Irish music. His harp was commissioned from a sculptor in Ireland, and is an exact copy of the medieval harp which is preserved in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, and which was said to have once belonged to Mary Queen of Scots. Simon teaches and performs at events across Scotland, and helps run an annual summer school in Ireland for the historic Irish and Scottish harp music.

The St Andrews Cathedral concert series will continue on the first Tuesday of each month through to September, with a different theme each month. Click here for full details.

July’s programme will use medieval and traditional tunes and song to tell the fascinating story of Margaret of Scotland, her wedding to the King of Norway in 1281, and the dramatic historical events over the following decade culminating in the succession crisis and Robert the Bruce; while August’s recital will present the “Old Gaelic Laments” featured on Simon’s newly released CD.

Medieval art & the Queen Mary harp

I have been thinking for some years about the decoration on the Queen Mary harp, ever since medieval academics at the 2008 Leeds International Medieval Congress suggested that while the pillar is clearly 15th century West Highland, the box and neck look earlier.

Today I was down at the cathedral here in St Andrews and I took some photos of 12th century designs on the Cathedral stonework, to compare with the designs on the harp.

Left & right: replica Queen Mary harp soundbox designs; Centre: Outside of chancel end wall at St Andrews cathedral. (I understand this is a consecration cross. There is another, damaged, on the end wall of the south transept).

Above: arcade inside the South transept at St Andrews cathedral. Below: replica Queen Mary harp neck design.