Margaret 1281

On 4th July, I’ll be performing in the cathedral ruins in St Andrews, for the start of my summer series of medieval harp recitals.

Held in the atmospheric surroundings of the ruined cathedral, in the small and intimate vaulted medieval chamber of the Priors House, the concert features the beautiful decorated replica medieval clarsach of Mary, Queen of Scots. I’ll also play a set of tunes on the bowed-harp (bowed lyre, jouhikko, gue)

The programme for July’s event tells the story of Margaret of Scotland, 1281: The story of Scotland and Norway, the Royal Wedding and the lead up to the Wars of Independence.

Using a selection of medieval music and traditional tunes from Scotland and from Scandinavia, the late 13th century history and politics will be dramatically brought to life, as the old ballad says: “The King sat in Dunfermline Toun, drinking of the blood red wine…”

There will be only two cathedral recitals for 2013, due to funding cuts at Historic Scotland. The first concert will be Thursday 4th July; the second will be Thursday 1st August. The events start at 12.45pm.

Date and time:
Thursday 4th July, starting at 12.45pm, finishing around 1.15pm.

St Andrews Cathedral
St Andrews, Fife, Scotland
Admission Free
Please collect a ticket from the Visitor Centre: 01334 472563

More info about the summer series at St Andrews Cathedral:

Future events with Simon Chadwick in St Andrews:

Monday 15th July, 2pm, at the Museum of the University of St Andrews:
An Tarbh – Ranald and the Bull. ‘Pibroch’ music for the harp, composed by one of the last of the old Scottish harpers about three hundred years ago.

Thursday 1st August, 12.45pm, at St Andrews Cathedral ruins:
Colainn gun Cheann – Ranald and the Ghost. Atmospheric harp music telling the stories of supernatural exploits from the 18th century Highlands.

Alison Kinnaird

Today I was pleased to be able to introduce Alison Kinnaird, who gave a lovely performance of old Scottish harp music at the Friends of Wighton’s Community Music Day in the Bonar Hall, Dundee. Alison talked and played for an hour to a very appreciative audience, using three different harps.

In this picture Alison is playing her copy of the Lamont harp made by Robert Evans, and you can also see her 1930s Briggs harp. She also had her Renaissance bray harp with her. As well as playing some representative tunes to illustrate the voice and traditions of each instrument, she sang a really super song – one of the big Scots ballads about the murderous sister.

Here’s a photo of my come and try earlier in the day:

Thanks to my glamourous tuning assistant on the right there!

strange brass rod

In the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, there is a little wooden box containing three brass or bronze tapered pins. The left and right hand ones are tuning-pins for early Irish harps, but the middle one is a mystery to me. It is labelled and described as a harp tuning pin but this is clearly rubbish – its tapered shaft is hexagonal and its wide end is in the form of a female bust with stubby crossed arms and bare breasts.

I really can’t think what this thing is!

I have looked at it on and off for about 10 years; I kept asking Hèléne La Rue if we could get it out and look at it but we never got round to it. But here’s my recent photo.