📷 Ruth Keggin & Rachel Hair – photo by Amore du Plessis
The Edinburgh International Harp Festival (EIHF) returns for its 42nd year. After two years online and a fully hybrid event in 2022, they are excited to announce to be back in person (with a few Zoom events) to new home, George Watson’s College.
With Scotland’s clarsach at its heart, the festival showcases all aspects of the harp with a host of concerts, courses and workshops in a welcoming and inclusive environment, cementing its reputation as the friendliest harp festival in the world. They are very grateful that once again they can be host to renowned musicians and participants from around the world, who will come together to entertain, inspire, educate and learn.
This year’s Festival will showcase an abundance of harp music from around the world demonstrating the versatility of this amazing instrument.
It is over ten years since they last welcomed renowned North American harpist Kim Robertson, who will be celebrating her Scots-Irish American heritage.
Appearing at the EIHF for the first time, DRÅM with Erik Ask-Upmark and Anna Rynefors hail from Sweden and will perform traditional music from Scandinavia with a fresh and unique approach, featuring not only harp, but also säckpipa and nyckelharpa.
Eva Curth from Germany will bring pedal harp and clarsach side by side, in a programme dedicated to the music of French composer Bernhard Andrès.
Renowned Breton harpist Clotilde Trouillaud has formed Lune Bleue Trio, combining harp, drums and electric guitar to perform arrangements in blues/jazz/rock style.
Another focus of the Festival will be the strong connections with other Celtic nations.
Straight from across the Irish Sea comes Michael Rooney, one of the foremost players of the traditional Irish harp and he will perform many of his well-known compositions.
Gwen Mairi, brought up in a Welsh speaking family in Scotland, presents music which is firmly rooted in the Welsh tradition, but combines Welsh and Scottish influences in a contemporary style.
Manx Gaelic singer Ruth Keggin and Scottish harpist Rachel Hair will celebrate the vibrancy and growth of the Manx Gaelic language and the connections between The Isle of Man and Scotland.
The EIHF proudly celebrates home-grown talent.
Scottish harpist Gillian Fleetwood and Ensemble will present Music from Hospitalfield House; a suite of music inspired by the recently restored Erard Grecian harp, which is over 200 years old and located at Abroath’s Hospitalfield House. Ailie Robertson was brought up in Edinburgh and is now based in Argyll. She will perform a selection of traditional tunes and her own compositions.
Glasgow based Neil Wood presents music on both gut and wire-strung harps, exploring ornamentation and texture from a range of places, periods and sources.
Heal and Harrow, Rachel Newton on harp and Lauren MacColl on fiddle, seek to pay a humanising tribute to those accused in the Scottish witch trials in the 16th and 17th century.
The EIHF has a history of providing a platform to the next generation of professional harpists.
Grace Stewart Skinner (awardee of the Hands Up For Trad ‘Inspiration Award’), was brought up playing harp in the Highlands and recently graduated from Edinburgh University in Celtic Studies.
The EIHF is also delighted to welcome Music Generation Ireland Collective, comprised of harp ensembles from Music Generation Laois, Louth, Mayo and Waterford and are led at the Festival by Deirdre Ní Bhuachalla.
Bringing harpers of all ages and experience together, the EIHF will celebrate and showcase the power and variety of harp ensembles in a concert that will feature three distinct groups.
Isobel Mieras will direct na Clàrsairean, the orchestra of the Edinburgh Branch of The Clarsach Society, to perform the new suite Changing Seasons.
The Power of Pedals, led by Eva Curth, will be comprised of students from her EIHF pedal harp course playing Elégie pour la mort d’un Berger by Bernard Andrès.
HARPA is a unique ensemble of seven harpists from all parts of the United States, who tour biennially.
The future of the harp lies in the youth and this year the EIHF will host 2 free to attend outreach projects for young people.
Our Beautiful Planet will see primary aged children attend workshops with renowned teachers Isobel Mieras and Elinor Evans before the festival, culminating in a free-to-attend performance on the festival opening day, also featuring Royal National Mod prize winner Cara Conway.
High school aged students will be given the opportunity to attend and be inspired at a workshop with respected Irish harper Michael Rooney, funded by Tasgadh, the small grants for Traditional Arts.
WORKSHOPS AND COURSES
A core element of EIHF is the chance to learn and share skills and knowledge in a wide range of workshops and courses led by the EIHF international guest performers and teachers.
Workshops, 11 in total, will explore a variety of topics including music from the Isle of Man, Sweden, Ireland and Scotland, Jewish Music, various aspects of singing, Calm Your Nerves, Harp Maintenance, Live Looping and an opportunity to observe renowned harpist Eva Curth at work in a masterclass.
Courses, 39 in total, at every possible level, include Scottish, Welsh, Irish, Manx, Breton and Scandinavian music, various techniques incorporating ornamentation, accompaniment patterns, chords and wire harp, as well as singing and ensemble play. Taught by over 30 world-class and experienced tutors, courses include harp classes for adult and child beginners (with harps provided), come-and-try sessions on wire harp and Yoga. There will also be informal session to learn basic phrases in Gaelic.
Makers from all over the UK and beyond will be on hand at this vital element of the festival, displaying instruments ranging from faithful historical reproductions to the very latest developments in harp construction.
Isobel Mieras, Artistic Adviser to the EIHF and President of The Clarsach Society: “After many months of planning, our Festival Team is looking forward to welcoming friends old and new to Edinburgh in the Spring to share our programme of concerts, courses, workshops and much more with performers, teachers, harp makers and enthusiasts from far and near.”
Patsy Seddon, Artistic Adviser to the EIHF: “Having settled so comfortably into our new venue last year, I can’t wait to welcome more people this year to enjoy all the harping goodies we have planned from inspiring concerts to informal gatherings.”