On Saturday I was driving south towards Dublin when we spotted the road sign turning to Monasterboice. I zoomed off the motorway and we stopped to look at the amazing high crosses there. I was especially pleased to get a good stereo pair of the carvings on the Cross of Muiredeach.

Continue reading Monasterboice

Ann Heymann in Dundee

Ann Heymann was in Scotland this past week, at the end of her successful 3-month visiting fellowship at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

I went into Edinburgh on Thursday for the seminar presented by Ann and Charlie which aimed to summarise and present their Galway work on combining medieval syllabic poetry performance with harp accompaniment.

On Saturday they were in Dundee. The duo performed the morning cappuccino concert for the Friends of Wighton. Then in the afternoon Ann led the usual weekly harp class in the Wighton Centre. It was a nice change for me to be able to sit at the back watching!

These photos are from the harp class. Numbers were down due to some regulars being either ill or travelling.

Ann Heymann in Edinburgh

This past weekend I was in Edinburgh for Ann Heymann’s concert and workshop.

On Saturday night, the concert was presented by Ann Heymann playing a beautiful painted and gilded medieval clarsach, Barnaby Brown playing replica 18th century highland bagpipes and also early medieval triplepipes and singing, and Talitha Mackenzie singing. The programme was a very well balanced selection of old Scottish and Irish music. At first there was some Latin ecclesiastical music, for the theme of St Bridget, but most of the programme was the old Gaelic traditions, with songs and instrumental ceol mor. The music was presented by different combinations of performers, some solo, and some in pairs, and the occasional trio – I like this approach as to my mind this ancient Gaelic repertory works best as an unaccompanied solo art and too much collaboration can dull the edges of the music. The collaborative performances were well chosen – Ann accompanied Talitha for Deirdre’s Lament most beautifully, and all three played and sang Uamh a Oir (the Cave of Gold) very effectively.

Sunday afternoon’s workshop was led by Ann Heymann, and there was a respectable turnout of historical clarsach players there including a strong contingent of my own Edinburgh students. Ann worked through a very interesting series of technique discussions which I think were of interest and use to all attendees, both long-time expert players and complete newcomers. There was also some very nice banter between Ann and Alison Kinnaird, with them both reminiscing about their earliest meetings and work together.

At both the concert and the workshop, half-time refreshments were provided by tea expert Rebecca Mackay who provided a selection of fine single estate Ceylon teas and some amazing homemade honey cake.

Music of Patrick Byrne, ‘The Last Irish Harper’

An event of interest coming up at James J. Hill House, 240 Summit Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55102 USA:

Music of Patrick Byrne, ‘The Last Irish Harper’

Date: Nov. 20, 2010
Time: 7 p.m.

The bright, ringing sound of metal strings distinguish the ancient Irish harp from its other string relatives. Using historical techniques on a period replica, Ann and Charlie Heymann will perform the repertoire of Patrick Byrne — an Irish harper whose death in the mid-19th century brought a thousand-year-old tradition to a close. Byrne’s younger brother, Christopher, emigrated and settled in Faribault; Liam O’Neill of “Irish On Grand” will narrate and read excerpts of a letter between the brothers. Participants can meet the performers at a post-concert reception. Tours of the Hill House will also be available. Reservations recommended.