Upcoming December Concerts in the GTA and Peterborough

Nov. 28 ’08 – ACACIA LYRA, an Ottawa harp and voice duo with Susan Sweeney Hermon and Janine Dudding, are pleased to be performing once again at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre 4th Stage, with guest musicians on flutes, fiddle, pipes, bodhran and bass. This versatile duo, who sing in many languages, accompanying themselves on Celtic harp and guitar, will present a “Hint of Winter”, with Yuletide and other traditional songs from Scandinavia, the Scottish Hebrides, Brittany, Ireland and Spain. National Arts Centre Fourth Stage, Friday November 28, 8pm. Tickets $16.00, available through www.ticketmaster.ca or 613-755-1111, the NAC Box Office: 613-947-7000 and the Ottawa Folklore Centre: 613-720-2887. Further Information: www.acacialyra.com, and www.nac-cna.ca

Dec. 4 & 14 – Hurly Burly presents “In Sweetest Harmony”, a concert of Medieval & Renaissance holiday music, Peterborough, ON., a concert of Medieval & Renaissance holiday music, Peterborough, ON.On Thurs., Dec. 4th we’ll be giving a shortened concert free of charge, starting at 8:00 p.m. in the Lady Eaton College dining hall at Trent University. Sunday Dec. 14th at 2:30 p.m. is our full-length seasonal concert at St. John’s Anglican church in the Guild Hall. For more information please visit our website: www.celticharper.com/hurlyburly

Thursday, December 11 – Friday, December 12: In from the Cold Christmas Concert: The Youth Emergency Shelter (YES) presents In from the Cold 8 p.m., at the Market Hall Performing Arts Centre (336 George St., Peterborough). This year’s lineup features: Carried Away, renowned Peterborough folk/vocal group; Enrique Roy Claveer (aka. Curtis Driedger) with Namonia Phelps; The Convivio Chorus, an innovative choir directed by Susan Newman; Michael Ketemer – fingerstyle guitar virtuoso; Tanah Haney, Celtic Harpist and The Mandolin Society of Peterborough. Collectively these acts present an enchanting mix of Christmas music which you won’t find at any other Christmas concert. Tickets are $10 and are available at Titles Bookstore (379 George St., Peterborough). All ticket proceeds go to the Youth Emergency Shelter. For more information call (705) 748-2126. (Details courtesy of the Quid Novis website)

Happy Thanksgiving! and Formatting Oddness

Just what one needs on a holiday weekend, is having to deal with computer woes. It seems that part of the problem behind the Harp Blog being hacked earlier this year was that the template we were using had been compromised somehow. So, I’ve changed the template to the most current (non-hacked) version. Unfortunately, as you can see it’s messed with the formatting somewhat. I’ll be searcing for a tidier template when I get back home, but in the meantime, all the content is the same (and all the posts seem to have remained spam-free, thank goodness), so you can still browse harpy goodness to your heart’s content.

To all the Canadian harpists out there, hope you’re having a good Thanksgiving weekend! Here it is wonderfully sunny, cool and breezy, and the fall colours are just brilliant. Off to go do more food prep (hopefully we’ve kicked this hacker business once and for all!).

September Tune of the Month: Douce Dame Jolie

An upbeat 14th C. song by French composer Guillaume de Machaut, Douce Dame Jolie is quite easy to play on the harp. A simple rhythmic drone using open fifths is all you need for accompaniment.

Douce Dame Jolie by Guillaume de Machaut, 14th C.

More info on this piece can be found here. To hear a midi version of this tune, click here.

The HarpBlog Tune of the Month is courtesy of Chubby Sparrow Music . For a printable version, right click on the picture and choose “save target as”, or pop over to the Chubby Sparrow Free Music page for more detailed printing instructions (note: if you just left click and try to print directly from the browser, it probably won’t print at the right size).

Transition into Fall (Formatting Problems Fixed)

The first signs of fall are everywhere here in Ontario: changing leaves, apple trees laden with fruit, cool brisk evenings. Soon wedding season will be giving way to teaching season for many of us. Although as we all know, there’s nothing quite like one of those late-fall outdoor gigs – numb fingers and toes, music fluttering in the chilly wind, layers of sweaters. Good things to keep on hand: fingerless gloves, dressy coats and sweaters, and a good thick padded case for your harp. And don’t forget to stock up on all those back-to-lessons essentials: dictation books, extra copies of method and exercise books, pencils, stickers, receipt booklet, and that all-important new daytimer (hopefully to mark down all those pre-booked gigs for next year!)

1:13 p.m.: Harp Blog technical glitch fixed. I never knew this could happen in WordPress, but after going through all the Harp Blog posts attempting to fix an apparently random formatting glitch, it became clear that the Harp Blog had been hacked (!). Aside from putting some very inappropriate links at the bottom of one of my old posts (from over a year ago), it also put junk spam code in every post on the site (all of which have been either deleted or cleaned up), arbitrarily reset the categories for about 90% of the HarpBlog posts and messed up the formatting on a handful of them as well. So this afternoon I got to go through the whole site editing and re-categorizing everything. You should now be able to find free print music, pictures of harps, events announcements, beginner tips and so on using the categories again. Hoping this is just a one-time freak security glitch! (Grr.) And yes – the first thing I did after fixing everything was change my password.

Vincenzo Zitello in concert: playing two harps at once

Update February 2009: Found a version of this concert on YouTube, so I was able to embed it below. Enjoy!

Playing two harps at once is quite a feat; but doing it well is even more impressive. You can learn more about Vincenzo Zitello by visiting his website: http://www.vincenzozitello.it

Heartland Harps & Ann Haymann’s “Planxty Cruit”

No, this isn’t an endorsement of Heartland Harps (although I would love to have one of my own, if space and finances weren’t so tight). It is, however, a lovely rendition of Planxty Cruit on wire harp performed by Ann Haymann. And they are very pretty harps. Maybe it will inspire you to come up with some Celtic decorations of your own!

The Tune of the Month is back…

Happy Spring everyone! While the official first day of spring is usually on the 21st, it’s on the 20th this year because we’re in a leap year. I can still see lots of snow from my study window here in chilly Ontario (lots and lots of snow), but hopefully warmer weather is on its way.

To help us all get into the spring spirit, The March Tune of the Month is up on the Chubby Sparrow Music free music page. This month’s tune is a lively slip jig in E minor called “The Butterfly”.

Sounding Harps Books

For anyone who has been looking for the Sounding Harps series of books from Cairde na Cruite (I’ve personally recommended them to several of my students, who’ve had difficulty tracking them down), all four of them are now available through both Melody’s Traditional Music and Sylvia Woods.

More specifically (since trying to find them through the search functions can be a pain), you can get to them on the Melody’s site here and on Sylvia Wood’s site here.

If you want to shop locally and save on shipping and customs, you could also try taking down the pertinent info from the websites and ordering them through your local music store.

There are four books in total, and they’re all excellent collections of Celtic Music. Many of the arrangements will fit on smaller harps (esp. those in Vol. 1), and Volumes One & Four have arrangements suitable for beginners through early intermediate. For more advanced players, the arrangements in Books Two & Three are intermediate to advanced. Even the easy arrangements are put together very nicely, so the tunes sound great.

Hope everyone had a good November, and that you’ve all been keeping your hands and harps warm despite the snow and wind.

Two unique uses of the harp

Kids rock: Three high school kids (a group known as “The Wrong Trousers”) put on a great street performance of “Video Killed the Radio Star” (with harp, mandolin and stand-up bass).

Update Feb. ’09: Also found this version on YouTube; enjoy!

The sound quality isn’t ideal, but it’s a wonderfully unique use of the instruments, and the kids do a really good job (somewhat strained vocals at the end not withstanding).

On a slightly weirder note, there’s harptallica.com – harp duet versions of 10 Metallica songs, coming soon to a CD near you (be afraid… be very afraid).

On the Music of the Middle Ages (quote)

This came to me by way of one of the members of our early music ensemble; thanks Sue!

“John of Salisbury (1120 – 1180) taught at the University of Paris during the years of Léonin and Pérotin. He attended many concerts at the Notre Dame Choir School. In De nugis curialiam he offers a first-hand description of what was happening to music in the high Middle Ages. This philosopher and Bishop of Chartres wrote:

“When you hear the soft harmonies of the various singers, some taking high and others low parts, some singing in advance, some following in the rear, others with pauses and interludes, you would think yourself listening to a concert of sirens rather than men, and wonder at the powers of voices … whatever is most tuneful among birds, could not equal. Such is the facility of running up and down the scale; so wonderful the shortening or multiplying of notes, the repetition of the phrases, or their emphatic utterance: the treble and shrill notes are so mingled with tenor and bass, that the ears lost their power of judging. When this goes to excess it is more fitted to excite lust than devotion; but if it is kept in the limits of moderation, it drives away care from the soul and the solicitudes of life, confers joy and peace and exultation in God, and transports the soul to the society of angels…” (Hayburn 18).