April 27, 2016

Looking ahead – mid-summer

The Somerset Folk Harp Festival, now in its 15th year, continues to be an excellent workshop – well worth your time!  It is four days of tons of things to learn, see, do, and hear. 
And this year is an excellent opportunity for those of us who favor Celtic music.  The moon and the stars just happened to align this year and there are three top harpers coming directly from Ireland: Grainne Hambly, Janet Harbison, and Kathleen Loughnane – wow!  In addition, the Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to William Jackson on Thursday night.  Billy has been one of many people’s earliest harp influence and he’s definitely been a Scottish music influence and musical icon for decades.  Celtic has always meant more than Irish and Scottish and this year Tristan LeGovic brings Brittany to the mix, delivering Breton music workshops (last year these were packed!).  And don't miss the opportunity to see Grainne & Billy performing in the very popular Celtic Kick-off on Thursday afternoon to get the festival off to a great start.

Not big on Celtic? No problem – one of the other wonderful things about Somerset is that there is an amazing diversity of workshops available to suit all tastes and skill levels.  Deborah Henson-Conant will be there delivering her energy and teaching four workshops.  She will also present her own full Sunday add-on Blues Improv Immersion (wow!).  And if that’s not enough, there will also be a Listening Room where you’ll be able to see Salieu Suso from Gambia on the African kora on Saturday – this is an amazing instrument and you should not miss the opportunity to learn more about it.

For more information and to register go to: http://www.somersetharpfest.com.  Go there soon and get the early-bird $100 discount if you sign-up by May 1!  I will miss it this year (I’ll be in Scotland for the Harp the Highlands and Islands tour!) if you go, tell me what I missed!!

April 20, 2016

Looking ahead - shorter timeline

I have had the opportunity to attend a number of summer harp events.  But one that I haven't ever gotten to is the Harp Gathering Folk Harp Festival at Sauder Village in Archbold Ohio.  This year the Harp Gathering runs 12 – 15 May and I will be unable to attend – again!

But I have heard good things about it and I wanted to share that with you. I have been told that the Gathering has a nice venue and provides a good experience.  It is very well organized and the scene is lovely.  The instructors are fabulous and the workshops are interesting and useful. In addition, the door prizes are great!  I have heard of someone winning a harp!

The feel of the event is broader than some of the other events in which I have participated.  There are a lot of workshops and the focus includes taize to tools, practice, double strung harp and music theory.  The faculty are an excellent collection including Richard Ash, Rhett Barnwell, Angi Bemiss, Christa Grix, Lynda Kuckenbrod, Diana Rowan, Cynthia Shelhart, Denise Grupp-Verbon, and Louise Trotter.

The Heritage Inn looks like a very interesting and comfortable accommodation and Sauder Village is an additional attraction for those coming from farther afield.  There is so much to be learned in a tightly packed schedule.  And how can you not look forward to an event with this great tag line: 

Inspire your mind.  Challenge your skill, and Renew your skill.

Are you going to the Harp Gathering?  Tell us about it!

April 13, 2016

Looking ahead more

OSAS has been a cornerstone of my development as a harper and I cannot encourage you enough to come and study. 

The week long course gives students the opportunity to learn in a concentrated session from six instructors who are known for their performing and for their teaching.  

Photos from last year, filched from the OSAS website - you'll know you're in the right place when you see them!

Teachers present repertoire-building tunes to students at all levels of accomplishment. You will learn Scottish dance music, airs, songs, and will focus on ornamentation, Scottish style, accompaniment, and learning by ear. There are lectures, practice time, sessions and a little free time. You will meet new friends and possibly meet the those that represent the future of harp excellence in your fellow students.  Classes will be available for beginners on through advanced players.

This year we will have the incredible opportunity to study with six instructors.  We are so fortunate to be able to learn from these remarkable musicians: Wendy Stewart (amazing!), Dominique Dodge (incredible!), Therese Honey (fantastic), Charlie Heymann (astonishing!), Ann Heymann (astounding!), and of course, Sue Richards (marvelous!)!  

Held on the campus of Oberlin College (yes, the one with the Conservatory!) OSAS is the kind of fun that has many of us coming every summer that we can manage it.  We learn more than we think we can hold and we have friends with whom we can enjoy playing the rep.  For more info, go to http://www.ohioscottishartsschool.com/osasgeninfo.htm and follow the links to the Harp page.  Hope you join us there!