Last year, the Edinburgh International Harp Festival was one of the first to go online in April. Skilfully put together in haste by Rachel Hair, it was very successful, bringing together harp players and enthusiasts from all over the world at a stressful and uncertain time. This year, we will be online again, putting into practice so much that we, along with so many musicians and Arts organisations, have learned over the last months. As well as gathering together recordings made by artists in far flung places, we plan to use historic Greyfriars Kirk here in the very heart of Edinburgh to safely film some of our locally based performers.
This year’s Festival is a special celebration, marking both the 40th Festival and the 90th anniversary of the founding of The Clarsach Society, the organisation responsible for running EIHF. True to our aims of excellence and inclusiveness, we present recordings from performers from Scotland the rest of UK, Europe, USA, South America, Scandinavia, Iran, Iraq, and China as well as a wide–ranging programme of courses for all levels from post beginners to advanced players. There are workshops on Paraguayan music, jazz techniques, West Highland repertoire, the world of electronics, and a masterclass. Recordings made by A New Generation of young harpers will be featured, informal conversations with mature and experienced folk on the harping scene and even an opportunity for all to play along.
Of course, it has been a bit of a roller–coaster putting our programme together as restrictionsand rules have constantly changed. We have had our disappointments, as special planned events have had to be postponed until 2022; but we now look forward even more to these delights, when we will be able to meet again to savour the special pleasures of playing to a live audience in a concert hall or being part of an audience to share the magical, indefinable connection and rapport of a live performance.
We gratefully acknowledge that we have had huge support, advice and encouragement from our own volunteers and our office team, from other Festivals and Arts organisations and from our sponsors in putting together such an exciting 40th Edinburgh International Harp Festival.
Isobel Mieras & Patsy Seddon
Artistic Advisers, EIHF