Edinburgh International Harp Festival 2020 – cancelled. A note from the festival.

The 39th Edinburgh International Harp Festival April 3-8  2020.

“The best laid plans———–“

Since April 2019 we have been planning for this year’s EIHF.  We aim to bring skilled and inspiring performers and teachers from all over the world to Scotland and to Edinburgh in particular to meet an equally international audience of students, harp enthusiasts and musicians. We planned 10 concerts, 40 courses for all levels from absolute beginners to advanced players and 20 workshops on related topics. 19 harp makers had booked places in our famous Harpmakers’ Exhibition.  We looked forward to hearing Jazz harp, Irish harp, Welsh music, fusions of European, Arabic and Turkish songs and dance tunes. We were to enjoy musical links between Scotland and Ireland, contemporary music for pedal harp and for clarsach and special storywalks for children to find the lost harps and save the world!

EIHF is run by The Clarsach Society, now entering its 90th year of encouraging and enabling people of all ages to take up the harp.  It is therefore not surprising that, as well as bringing such a wide breadth of harps and styles to Scotland, we keep our own Scottish harp at the heart of each Festival. This year we planned to feature Gaelic harp and song, exciting new music for clarsach, traditional music for clarsach and fiddle and clarsach and saxophone all in the hands of some of our finest Scottish performers.  There was to be a special concert featuring the new generation of young players, a performance of a new suite for 4 musicians inspired by and performed on the beautiful old Erard harp kept in Hospitalfied House and apremier performance of a new suite, the result of a collaboration between the harp orchestra, na Clarsairean and Drake Music, Scotland. We had set up our online ticketing system to deal with our complex needs, contracts were exchanged, travel and accommodation arranged, merchandise purchased. We were delighted with the beautiful design of the programe.  A band of eager  volunteers was ready to train in the use of all the software necessary for  the box office and stewarding and a hundred other details to make a successful Festival were all in hand. Our advance bookings indicated a flourishing festival to come on the beautiful, welcoming campus of Merchiston Castle School. 

As a responsible organising committee, we have been constantly monitoring the situation with regard to Covid 19. Our decision was to continue with our arrangements, but be aware of developments.  While very sad and deeply disappointed for our teachers, tutors and all who planned and looked forward to the Festival when the school made the decision earlier this month to cancel all bookings over the Easter break, we do completely understand their chief concern must be for the well being of their pupils and staff.  Having grown over the years to fit the wonderful space and facilities offered by Merchiston, there was no possibility of a change of venue.

Now, with the help of our two wonderful part time administrators and a team of volunteers, we embark on the process of unscrambling the detailed preparations made over many months.  The kind and supportive messages received from those who were to perform and teach at the Festival and those who planned to be there have helped tremendously with any disappointment.

We are already planning EIHF 2021 – watch this space!

Isobel Mieras