Sunday, 29 May 2011

Catriona McKay

I'm delighted that Catriona McKay (scottish harp) and Chris Stout (shetland fiddle) will be playing at the next concert as part of the Sandbach Concert Series on Wednesday 29th June 7-9pm.

Andy and I heard them play at the Edinburgh Festival last year and we were so blown away by this really amazing duo! Catriona is an inspiring harpist to see live, and if you live anywhere in the North West please do come along to see them.

Sandbach is just a minutes drive off the M6, there is free car parking and we even have a lovely Italian restaurant which does before and after concert meals for us just opposite the venue!

Full details are on Sandbach Concert Series website and you can buy tickets online here

Friday, 20 May 2011


Vaughan Williams Sea Symphony.

Spot the difference between chord symbols and pedal markings on this hire part?

(Double click on image to see closer view)

1. What is that harp part all about then? Pages and pages of badly written arpeggios that go at the speed of light with impossible page turns. The only way to play them is to cheat and read chord symbols instead.

2. Wouldn't it have been great to have been a fly on the wall and seen the confrontation between the first harpists who had to play this piece and Vaughan Williams? (I know what I would have said to him about it!)

3. Why is my own copy of this piece only partially marked up?

I try not to play this piece if I can all help it as it's not a joyous experience to play with it's constant fistfuls of notes, but I've played this three times now in the past year.

So I suppose it's about time I thoroughly marked up my own part rather than relying on scribbled on hire parts, so that I have a fighting chance of being able to actually read all that information on the page whilst playing it at speed..

Monday, 16 May 2011


I played at my mums funeral last week. She had been ill for a couple of years with secondary bone cancer, but had suddenly deteriorated and had wonderful care at the end from our local hospice. Everyone at St Luke's was truly amazing.

She had a woodland burial with a "humanist style" ceremony conducted by the family, and we all toasted to her with a drink.

It was.... really nice, peaceful, dignified and a lovely way to go.

I played my little harp; the groundsman had put up a big garden umbrella as it was raining a little bit, and the music drifted through the young trees, mixed in with the bird song, the drink and the chatter as we went about the woodland burial.

Schoolgirl Error - I forgot to bring pegs!!! So we held back the music on my (sturdy) music stand with a small bottle of Jim Bean bourbon and a tuning key.

My mum would have chuckled.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Lily Munster

Ah!!! if only playing the harp was that easy.....

Lily Munster singing and "playing" the harp.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Gaudeamus Interpreters Competition

Congratulations to Eleanor Turner for winning second prize at the Gaudeamus Interpreters Competition 2011 in Amsterdam.

The competition was open to any instrumentalist and there were 83 participants from thirty-one countries.

For a harpist to come second in a competition like this is an astonishing feat.

Information about the competition and winners is here.

Jump to 5:59 for Eleanor's clip from the second round of the competition!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Louis XV Special

These harps really remind me of my chickens who are laying really well now the weather is lovely, and we are inundated with eggs again ;-)

Lyon & Healy
Louis XV Special Concert Grand

  • 0 octave G to 7th octave C
  • Height 74 3/4" (190 cm)
  • Soundboard Width 21 5/8" (55 cm)
  • Extreme Width 41 1/2" (105 cm)
  • Weight 89 lbs (40 Kg)
  • Price $179,000 (US)

and on the grounds that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

Pedal harp LDP-7
  • 47strings ranging from 1st Octave G to 7th Octave C.
  • Height:77”
  • Width:43”
  • Soundboard Width:21”6’
  • Weight:121 lb
  • Soundboard material:Mahogany
  • Finish:Titanium and Gold coated
  • Price ? (would love to know but that bit is all in Chinese)

If anyone has actually heard a Louis XV Special (and not a recording) I would love to know what they sounded like, and whether the sound is any better than say a style 26 Special which comes in at a mere $59,000!