THE SWEET melodic sound of the harp will be heard from the windows of the Kilkenny School of Music next week when the Historical Harp Society of Ireland celebrates the official opening of the 10th international Scoil na gCláirseach—Summer School of Early Irish Harp.
This is the only summer school in Ireland (and indeed anywhere in the world) dedicated solely to Ireland’s oldest and most illustrious instrument.
Scoil na gCláirseach has come a long way since its inception in August 2003, when Kilkenny School of Music hosted the first 12 summer school students from six countries on three continents. In 2005, An Comhairle Ealaíon recognised the importance of the HHSI’s work to revive the playing of Ireland’s symbolic instrument and funded the HHSI’s ground-breaking project to design and build the first, and to date, only, publicly available collection in the world of new early Irish harps copied from museum originals, in association with master luthier, David Kortier.
Over the first decade,the school has welcomed close to 300 participants from 17 countries on three continents; many of them now annually returning students. The summer school now has such an enviable reputation in the field, that it attracts the cream of the world’s historical harpists and early Irish harp academics who come to Ireland each year, to tutor and lecture in Kilkenny.
Scoil na gClairseach has now become a guiding light to the participants, who have gone on to become professional performers, teachers in their own right, harp makers and PhD scholars. The tenth Scoil na gClairseach will take place from August 8-14 at Kilkenny School of Music. Members of the public are very welcome to attend the official opening which will take place at 7pm at the Kilkenny School of Music, Ormonde Rd.
Ceol don Rí—Music Fit for a King will take place on August 9 at 8pm at St. Patrick’s Church on College Rd. Admission €15/10. The concert will present three of the world’s finest historical harpists: Ann Heymann (USA), Andrew Lawrence-King (Guernsey) and Siobhán Armstrong (IRL) who will play rare, early Irish harps strung in brass, silver and gold wires. They will be joined by evocative Scots Gaelic singer Talitha MacKenzie, and the wonderful sean nós singer from Galway Éamonn Ó Bróithe. A Harps and harpmakers’ exhibition will take place at August 11 and admission is free.