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Can We Revisit the Past? Reconstructing 16th-18th Century Irish Harp Music

Event information

START DATE 2 February 2016
START TIME 06:15pm

Concert Room, Grove B building, Middlesex University, The Burroughs, Hendon, London, NW4 4BT

Harpist and PhD Researcher at Middlesex University Siobhán Armstrong gives a lecture-recital around reconstructing the historical repertory played and sung by Irish harpers

The wire-strung early Irish harp was the musical pinnacle of Gaelic culture in Ireland and the Highlands & Islands of Scotland from before 1000 to 1800, when it died out. It has now largely been replaced by the nylon-strung, 'Celtic' harp, which is a completely different, modern instrument. 

In this lecture-recital Siobhán will look at issues around reconstructing the historical repertory played and sung by Irish harpers in the original tradition, from the 16th to 18th centuries. 

Can we get a sense of how they performed their music and what they thought important? Could we try to replicate what they did and why would we do that? What would it teach us? What would it sound like? 

Siobhán will play examples of her reconstructions of this evocative repertoire on her brass and 18-carat-gold-strung facsimile copy of the Trinity College or 'Brian Boru' harp, the attractive, late-medieval harp depicted in the Irish national emblem.

Siobhán Armstrong

Siobhán Armstrong is one of Europe's foremost historical harpists, working with the most prestigious early-music soloists, orchestras and baroque opera companies. She also collaborates with some of the best traditional musicians in Ireland and Scotland. Playing single-row and chromatic, multi-row harps, Siobhán particularly enjoys accompanying vocal music: from plainchant to polyphony to early Gaelic song to 17th-century Italian monody. Siobhán founded, and chairs, The Historical Harp Society of Ireland, which is spearheading an international revival of Ireland's early harp. In 2014, she was awarded a three-year bursary by Middlesex University to pursue PhD research into early Irish harp performance practice.

Follow Middlesex University Music on Twitter @MdxUniMusic and join in the conversation with #MDXconcerts.

Concerts and Colloquia is a free series of music events. All events are open to the public and followed by refreshments. There is no need to book tickets but for further information please contact Ben Hulme.

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