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It all began back in 1931 at the close of the National Mod in Dingwall, when a group of enthusiasts, mostly women, met to form a Society to promote the clarsach and its music. Quiet, steady work by dedicated volunteers through ensuing decades, eloquently described in the recently published book “In Good Hands” by Stuart Eydmann, has led to the happy situation today where the Society has 7 Branches in Scotland, 5 in England and Wales and a Wire Branch dedicated to the research and playing of that most ancient form of the clarsach.
Presenting the best of harping, encouraging and including players at all stages and ensuring the provision of good teaching are all vital aspects of the Society’s work, but even more important is our harp hire system, whereby we enable members to take up the clarsach without the huge investment of purchasing. The Society has 120 harps on hire nationwide and many of the branches hire to members in their locality.
It also enables teachers to take on new students and harp makers to manufacture and further develop the modern instrument.
Some of the finest players of the small harp today are from Scotland and freely acknowledge they were enabled to start their careers through the support of The Clarsach Society.
Coming up, we have three key events happening which not just showcase our work, but continue to build a successful future for clarsach playing in Scotland:
Harps of Gold, in the Queens Hall, Edinburgh on December 10th 2017 is a popular and joyful Christmas event, where up to 60 harpers of all ages and experience from all over Scotland accompany carols for all and play seasonal music.
Dare to be a Teacher, on October 21st in Glasgow is led by Wendy Stewart. It will encourage experienced performers to teach clarsach or lead groups in areas where there is currently demand but no teacher. Similar past sessions have been successful and Carry on Teaching led by Karen Marshalsay will continue to support those who have taken up the challenge.
The 37th annual Edinburgh International Harp Festival in Spring 2018 is our annual showcase event. We invite the finest harp players from all over the world to meet and share their music with us in public concerts, workshops and courses on the beautiful campus of Merchiston Castle School. While presenting an international line up of performers and teachers at the Festival, we keep the clarsach, the Scottish harp, firmly at its heart.
For more information about the Society and events visit www.clarsachsociety.co.uk
Isobel Mieras, President of The Clarsach Society