I sometimes play in public concerts or events, though I prefer informal domestic music-making.
From about 2007 through to 2017, I performed using the replica of the medieval Scottish “Queen Mary” harp that was made for me by Davy Patton. I took the replica Queen Mary harp to historic buildings, community spaces and concert halls, playing reconstructed or re-imagined medieval and Renaissance Scottish Gaelic harp music. I took the harp to the Isle of Skye to accompany singer Gillebrìde MacMillan in a private recital of 14th century bardic praise poetry for the chiefs of Clan Donald; I took the harp to the British Museum in London to play for Members during the “Celts” exhibition; I played the replica for a series of demonstration events beside the original medieval harp in its glass case in the National Museum of Scotland, and I also took the replica harp to the Museum to perform improvised accompaniments for childrens’ storytelling. I played Renaissance Scottish music in the Netherbow to accompany a reading by poet Henry Marsh. I gave solo concert performances of my re-imagined medieval Scottish harp music at the Dinan harp festival in France, at Scoil na gCláirseach in Ireland, at the International Medieval Congress in England, and at small and curious venues across Scotland from Acharacle to Anstruther.
But around 2017 to 2018 I stopped doing this; I kind of lost interest in the historical recreationism of medieval music.
I was invited to perform at the bicentenary “Nathaniel Gow’s Dance Band Concert” in Edinburgh at the beginning of 2017, and this connection to the end of the old tradition 200 years ago inspired me and made me think very differently about the traditional Irish harp music. I started using the big traditional Irish harps, eventually commissioning a new harp from Pedro Ferreira in 2019, a copy of the “Carolan” harp owned by the National Museum of Ireland. I have played concerts of Carolan’s music, of traditional Scottish “ce`ol mór” or pibroch music, and of traditional old harp tunes. In the autumn of 2019 I took the brand new harp to the Linen Hall Library in Belfast and played for an event for the bicentenary of the Irish Harp Society there.
I had great plans to tour with the new harp and with my newly developed ideas of traditional Irish harp music, but I haven’t done any normal public events since early 2020. I did a live online concert using Zoom, but I don’t like the artificality of playing to the camera and pretending it is a real in-person event. Instead I have turned to my research, developing my understanding of the repertory and playing techniques. I have made some recordings which you can find on my Youtube channel, and I have played for friends and family in various private settings.