Harp on!

Siobhan Armstrong
Siobhan Armstrong

By Shelley Marsden

Ground-breaking CD features music from copy of medieval Brian Boru harp with 18-carat gold strings

THE forthcoming CD from harpist Siobhan Armstrong will be the first in her new recording project, Music of Ireland and reflects her greatest passion – the revival of the early Irish harp.

A ground-breaking project, it will happen over several years and will showcase vocal and instrumental music in Ireland 1500—1800, bringing together the passion and expertise of some of the best historical and traditional Irish musicians, with some of the finest international early music performers.

Vol. 1: The Kingdom of Ireland 1500-1600 will be the debut recording of Siobhan’s group The Irish Concert. Siobhan said: “It constitutes what I believe is the first ever album to attempt to recreate the sound world of 16th century Ireland: it presents some of the oldest surviving Irish music and also repertoire which would have been familiar to the Tudor English colonists.”

She added: “It features my early Irish harp—a copy of the Brian Boru harp depicted in the national emblem of Ireland—strung in brass and 18-carat gold wires. This was the noble, high art instrument of the Gaelic world for almost 1000 years before it died out around 1800 before it was replaced by the modern nylon-strung ‘Celtic’ harp.”

The harpist will be joined by twelve of Ireland and Europe’s finest historical and traditional singers and performers on lute, viols and recorders. The musician is funding her ambitious project through Fundit, and is now 50% of the way towards her target.

Siobhán is one of a small number of harpists worldwide who play harps from earlier centuries, with a large collection of copies of instruments from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the baroque.

Born in Dublin and working as a freelance performer and teacher, mainly in Europe, she plays 17th century opera with the main baroque opera directors in Europe; has performed as a soloist on Hollywood film soundtracks and gigs at traditional music festivals across the globe.

Siobhán founded and chairs The Historical Harp Society of Ireland and is the director of Scoil na gCláirseach—Summer School of Early Irish Harp, which takes place each August in Ireland. Her solo recording on this instrument, Cláirseach na hÉireann: The Harp of Ireland, was released in 2004.

The campaign ends on July 26 – you can help her on her way and hear them at the link http://fundit.ie/project/cd-music-of-16th-century-ireland. For more, see www.siobhanarmstrong.com.




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