The Edinburgh International Harp Festival: 5th-10th April 2019

Isobel Mieras, is the Artistic Artistic Adviser to the Edinburgh International Harp Festival and President of The Clarsach Society and introduces to us to the Edinburgh International Harp Festival’s 2019 programme…

Putting together the Festival programme each year with my co- Artistic Adviser, Patsy Seddon, is both a great joy and a challenge. We aim to introduce new, inspiring performers, bring back established popular favourites, encourage young talent, include as many tastes and genres as possible—and then organize everything into a coherent, stimulating programme for a happy Festival. Fortunately we work as part of great team. I look forward to 5 exciting days in wonderful company. Read on to discover what we have planned for this year’s festival.”

Run by The Clarsach Society, the Festival aims to cross musical boundaries while bringing people together to play, listen, learn and create in an informal and friendly atmosphere through concerts, workshops and courses at all levels, including beginners-and, of course, a ceilidh. Taking place in the stunning surroundings of Merchiston Castle School (with on site accommodation) the festival welcomes artists and visitors from around the world from Friday the 5th to Wednesday the 10th of April.

Memorial Hall, Merchiston Castle School


Our 10 concerts feature solo artists, duos, trios, groups and ensembles from Spain, Paraguay, Ireland, Wales and Denmark, with our own Scottish harp, the clarsach, at the centre.

The Poozies

The popular Corbalan brothersSixto and Juanjo join us again to display their own virtuosic take on traditional Paraguayan music, Rodrigo Romani brings his trio of 2 harps and percussion from Galicia, Helen Davies (harp) and Poulo Hoxbro (flutes) present music from northern European and Scandinavian Folk traditions and mother and daughter Delyth and Angharad Jenkins bring new and traditional music from Wales for harp and fiddle.

True to our theme of crossing borders, kora player Moussa Cissokho from Senegal is joined by Jan Galega Brönniman from Switzerland on bass clarinet and Omro Hason from Israel on oriental percussion in their own particularly unforgettable take on music from Gambia, Mali and Senegal. Scotland’s William Jackson and Ireland’s Grainne Hambly bring their combined extraordinary harping talents to the music of two nations.

Eira Lynn Jones will bring pedal harp and clarsach side by side, in music linking harpist, composer and harp maker together in a programme featuring three world premieres.

From Scotland we are proud to present the wonderful Poozies with Mary Macmaster on harp and Twelfth Day – a partnership of harpist Esther Swift with Catriona Price on fiddle. Mary Ann Kennedy will present her composition Ironbright – a celebration of the achievements of Thomas Telford and Isambard Kingdom Brunel. This performance will include a new movement specially written for this Festival, celebrating the new Queensferry Crossing. Mary Ann will be joined by her husband, Nick Turner, creating biosoundscapes and singer/harpist Rachel Newton. In cameo performances at the closing concert, soloists Freya Thomsen, Pippa Reid – Foster and Elinor Evans will demonstrate the extraordinary versatility of the modern clarsach.

EIHF aims to encourage and give a platform to talented young performers and our afternoon Tea Concert will feature harp and fiddle duo, Turadh- Isbel Pendlebury and Emma Donald–and award winning clarsach players, Riko Matsuko and Rachel Groves.

Inclusiveness is another important aspect of the Festival. Clarsach students of school age are invited to join story teller Heather Yule in a performance of The Enchanted Harp. This concert will also feature young Royal National Mod prizewinner Meredith Kennedy. Players of all ages and stages are invited to join the Festival Orchestra in a performance of Isobel Mieras’ St Kilda Suite. This concert will also feature Harps Accord from north east Scotland and Pedal Power, students taking the Festival’s pedal harp course.

Late Night Session


Our 20 workshops, many of them led by our international guest performers and teachers, cover subjects of interest to all musicians, performers and historians. The Clarsach Society aims to encourage new teachers and provide personal development opportunities to experienced ones. Therefore, particularly with teachers in mind, but open to all who are interested, we offer two workshops – Teaching Music to Autistic Individuals and The Art of Adjudication.


Harp Course

We offer 42 courses at all levels on a wide range of harp music and styles as reflected in our concerts. There are 5 day courses, weekend only and some are for 3 days. There are courses for adult and child beginners taught by experienced teachers and with harps provided. In addition, respected Scottish composer Eddie McGuire will teach a course on Composing for harp or clarsach, open to all and Angharad Jenkins will teach a course on Welsh music for fiddlers. There are also taster Come and Try sessions on the historic wire strung ClarsachMandolin and Hand Percussion.

EIHF annually hosts one of the largest and most important Harpmaker’s Exhibitions, with opportunities to see, try out and discuss the latest developments in harp technology.

Harp Exhibition

For further information, download the PDF brochure and to book visit

Or telephone 0131 554 0212