On Thursday 20th February 2020, I had the honour of speaking at ‘The Irish Harp: Reception to Celebrate the recent UNESCO status designation of the Irish Harp as an Intangible Cultural Heritage’.
I spoke about my own journey of learning the harp, which was quite a lonely one, and of how I have come to create a thriving community of harpers on the North Coast of County Antrim through Causeway Harp School.
The nature of traditional music is inherently social: something to be shared with family, friends and community, yet very often private music tuition can become more about achievements and passing exams. Through my harp school, it is my aim to provide learners with a sense of community and fun around learning their instrument, as well as preparing pupils for exams. I teach mainly in small group settings where we enjoy playing, learning and performing in the community together. It is my passion for this beautiful heritage instrument to become more accessible, regardless of age, formal musical education or cultural background. I have a real passion for the harp and its repertoire and I am seeing this ignite in so many of my pupils now too, which is so rewarding.
It was such a pleasure and honour to be speaking alongside Aibhlín McCrann, Chair of Harp Ireland, who pioneered the UNESCO status designation of the Irish Harp. World renowned harper, composer, teacher and academic, Dr Janet Harbison also spoke and entertained us with a stunning performance of her arrangements and compositions for harp. It was such an inspiring evening in honour of this beautiful instrument and our unique cultural heritage. I am thrilled that my work through Causeway Harp School is helping to keep the living tradition of Irish harping alive.