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Harp Festival Artists 2023

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Clíona Doris

Clíona Doris is a Professor at TU Dublin Conservatoire where she lectures in harp, performance studies and artistic research, as well as co-ordinating postgraduate music performance programmes. She previously held the positions of Head of Orchestral Studies and Head of the Conservatoire. As a harpist, she has extensive performing and recording experience as a soloist and chamber musician, with a particular interest in contemporary music. Her most recent recordings include two digital releases: Brian Boydell Mosaics and Sketches: Chamber Music for Harp with TU Dublin Conservatoire colleagues, and Cantares de la Frontera for Louth Contemporary Music Society featuring solo works by Peter Garland and Deirdre McKay.

Following harp studies with Denise Kelly McDonnell at Belfast School of Music and throughout her undergraduate studies Queen’s University, she pursued postgraduate studies at Indiana University, Bloomington, USA, graduating with the Doctor of Music Degree in Harp Performance and Music Literature, under the direction of the acclaimed harpist, Susann McDonald.

Clíona is a member of the Board and Corporation of the World Harp Congress, having served as Chair of the Ninth World Harp Congress Dublin 2005. She has recently joined the Board of Directors of the National Concert Hall and is a former board member of the Contemporary Music Centre, Music Generation and Music Network.


Deirdre Granville and Aoife Granville

Hailing from Dingle, Co. Kerry, a multi-instrumentalist and singer, Deirdre studied both traditional and classical music from a young age. She has toured and performed extensively worldwide and has featured on Radio, commercial recordings and TV performances both solo and with other celebrated musicians including Kerry Chamber and Youth Orchestras, Aoife Granville, folk singing group; Deluce’s Patent and duo; Sirmione amongst others.

A music graduate from University College Cork and a MA performance graduate from University of Limerick. She has won numerous solo and group performance medals, including the first ever All-Ireland Senior Harp Slow Airs title at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann.

She is one of the most recognised names in contemporary Irish harping and has a particular interest in the Goodman Collection, slow air-playing and the music of the Blasket Islands … where her family are originally from.

Deirdre and her sister Aoife are descendants of Blasket Islanders who continue to sing and make music. Deirdre and Aoife spent a great deal of time with their grandmother, Léan Ní Dhálaigh, and this led to their love of, and interest in, Island culture. They have been particularly influenced by Dálaigh’s music and that of Tom na hInise or Tom Pheaidí Mhuiris.

Deirdre released her first solo album, Imram, in 2015. She was Co-Director and founder of Dingle Tradfest and was appointed to the board of CÉHI on 2/11/2017.

Siobhán Armstrong

Siobhán Armstrong is a performer, academic, passionate teacher and mentor, exploring historical music on reconstructions of medieval to baroque harps. She performs and records with many of Europe’s most prestigious soloists, baroque orchestras and opera companies, and also collaborates with some of Ireland’s best-known traditional-music performers. Siobhán is the founding director of The Historical Harp Society of Ireland, spearheading the international rediscovery of Ireland’s ancient harp, strung in brass wires. In 2015, she located a lost, historic Irish harp, and in 2016 she commissioned the first ever 3D-laser scan of a musical instrument at The National Museum of Ireland. She completed her PhD on early-Irish harp performance practice in 2020 (Middlesex University, London). The debut recording of her ensemble, The Irish Consort, entitled Music, Ireland and the Sixteenth Century, has shed light on a neglected century in Irish music. This was one of The Irish Times’ top five international Classical Music picks of 2021

Gerry Cullen and the Drogheda Singers

Gerry Cullen has been a stalwart of the in-accompanied traditional music scene for the past 50 years. He first came to national prominence as a member of the acclaimed harmony trio Voice Squad. Gerry possesses a wonderful resonant, rich voice and includes many local Drogheda songs in his repertoire.

The Drogheda Singers have had weekly singing sessions in Drogheda for many years and the regular singers have all sung at different festivals and sessions throughout the country. Some have researched local songs , singers and song-writers and, in line with one of their main aims, have brought many old songs back to life, many from the nineteenth century.

Nobody’s Jig

Nobody’s Jig is a trio which formed with the desire to explore some of the lesser-known elements of 17th-century folk traditions as well as more mainstream approaches to folk music from across Ireland, Britain and further afield. Made up of harps, lutes and the voice, this combination of instruments draws on an old and intimate tradition of song accompaniment which travelled from Europe as far as Latin America in the 17th century. Ensemble members hail from musical traditions including traditional Irish and Mexican music as well as mainstream baroque and classical training. Since holding the prestigious Wigmore Learning/Royal Academy of Music Fellowship in 2021, the trio have performed regularly at the hall as well as at the 2021 Bloomsbury Festival, the Royal Academy of Music and Goodenough College for international postgraduate students. In July 2022 they gave the world premiere of ‘Air’ by Clare Elton at the Wigmore Hall, commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society. Members comprise Victoria Hodgkinson (soprano), Sergio Bucheli (lutes) and Tara Viscardi (harps).

Gráinne Hambly

Gráinne Hambly from County Mayo is an internationally recognised exponent of the Irish harp, and is in great demand as a performer and teacher, both at home and abroad. Gráinne started to play Irish music on the tin whistle at an early age, before moving on to the concertina and later the harp. She lived in Belfast for six years, where she completed a Masters Degree in Musicology, awarded by Queen’s University (1999). Her main research topic was folk music collections and the harp in 18th-century Ireland. She also completed the Graduate Diploma in Education (Music) at the University of Limerick.

Gráinne has been playing professionally as a solo musician for the past 20 years, and has performed on various occasions in Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Brazil, Colombia, Israel, and Japan, as well as touring extensively in the United States, giving concerts, workshops and masterclasses. She has also toured and recorded with various artists, including the Belfast Harp Orchestra, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Eireann and Irish Christmas In America.

She has attracted glowing praise for her live performances and recorded material, which brilliantly showcase what has been described as her ‘absolute mastery of the Irish harp’. Known for the sensitivity and expressive quality of her air-playing, as well as her dynamic performance of dance tunes, Gráinne’s playing illustrates the full range and scope of this instrument. She specialises in teaching Irish traditional music ‘by ear’ and offers private lessons and intensive tuition options at her home, as well as teaching at various annual summer schools and harp festivals.

Gráinne has featured on a number of recordings both as guest artist and accompanist. She has released three critically acclaimed solo CDs, and two books of arrangements.  Her most recent collaboration is with Scottish harper William Jackson, with whom she frequently tours. They have released a recording Music from Ireland and Scotland (2009) and published some arrangements for harp ensemble.

Triona Marshall

Triona Marshall

Triona Marshall has played with The Chieftains since 2003, performing in concert halls around the world. During her time with The Chieftains she recorded multiple albums with them and other artist along with her own solo albums.

Previous to this phase in her career, she was the principle harpist with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, which in itself was preceded by many dedicated years of study, primarily under the esteemed harp teacher Aileen McArdle and latterly under Professor Edward Witsenburg at Koninklijk at Conservatorium in Den Haag and Daphne Boden at London’s Royal College of Music.

In 2013, along with The Chieftains, Triona was awarded an honorary doctorate from Dublin Institute of Technology in recognition of the band’s contribution to music.

Jean Kelly

Jean Kelly hails from an Irish family of several generations of professional musicians. Jean won a scholarship to study harp at the Royal College of Music, London. She is in great demand as a versatile harpist, with an eclectic career ranging from Early Music to Contemporary Classical and Folk Music.

She has recorded three CD’s with the Locrian Ensemble, including Handel Harp Concerto and Mozart Flute and harp Concerto. A CD of Chamber Music by Richard Arnell was Editor’s Choice in Gramophone magazine. She has also recorded for the Guild and Stockfisch labels.

Jean performs on commercial film and TV soundtracks, for composers such as Debbie Wiseman, Jonny Greenwood, Max Richter and Dario Marianelli. She played solo harp on Michael Kiwanuka’s Mercury Prize winning album.

Jean regularly guests with The Telling and The Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments, playing medieval, gothic, celtic and triple harps. She loves the freedom of playing and improvising with these groups, extending beyond the printed notes, and drawing on her past musical influences.

“Elegant, stylish and deliciously nuanced playing.” Irish Independent

Trio Táin

Irish-based Trio Táin, formed in 2020, is Ireland’s leading flute, viola and harp ensemble. The name ‘Trio Táin’ represents the home place of two of the ensemble’s members, Robin Panter (viola) and Vourneen Ryan (flute), who are married and live together with their two small children in Louth, where the legend of the Táin Bó Cúailnge originates.

All three musicians have played together since 2007 in various ensembles including the National Symphony Orchestra, RTÉ Concert Orchestra, Irish National Opera, Irish Chamber Orchestra and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, from China to Liverpool and throughout Ireland.

Trio Táin’s members all have well-established careers as professional musicians. Robin Panter (viola) is currently a member of the Irish Chamber Orchestra and has a busy freelance career as a violist. Robin is a string faculty member at the Royal Irish Academy of Music.

Vourneen Ryan (flute) was previously co-principal flute with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and now has a varied career as a freelance flautist, educator and performance psychologist. Vourneen is on the flute faculty and lectures in Career Development at the Royal Irish Academy of Music.

Aisling Ennis (harp) is a Wicklow-based artist who enjoys a varied career as a performer, artistic collaborator and improviser. In 2022 she released her debut solo album, The Folly of Melancholy. 2023 will see her recital ‘Fairy Music: Ceol Sí’ performed throughout County Wicklow as well as ongoing appearances with The Irish Chamber Orchestra and collaborations with various artists including Imogen-Blue Hinohosa, Una Palliser, Shiva R Joyce, theatre maker Anna Newell and guitarist Eamon Sweeney. Aisling’s work is supported by Arts Council Ireland and Wicklow County Council.

Trio Táin’s mission is to deliver inclusive, engaging, and innovative work. The trio curates programmes of established concert repertoire, as well as exploring alternative concert formats such as their series of reflective concerts, Pause. Trio Táin welcomes collaborations and has joined with soprano Catherine Redding to perform Taverner’s To a Child Dancing in the Wind at The Whale Theatre, Greystones.

The trio has gratefully received generous support from many organisations including The Arts Council of Ireland, Wicklow County Council, and Create Louth.

Trio Táins’ Pause series was supported by the Arts Council of Ireland’s Agility Award, during which they performed their own arrangements of music by composers such as Phillip Glass, Telemann, Arvo Pärt and Bach. This expertly curated programme of music was born from the desire to provide music as a balm to comfort others in times of stress and anxiety. The series was recorded and filmed at Anaverna House, Louth, and is available to watch on the @triotain YouTube channel.

Both Vourneen and Aisling are recipients of Arts Council of Ireland Music bursaries. Robin plays on a viola by John Dilworth, generously funded through the Music Capital Scheme which is managed by Music Network and funded by The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.

Aisling Ennis

Aisling Ennis (harp) is a Wicklow-based artist who enjoys a varied career as a performer, artistic collaborator and improviser. In 2022 she released her debut solo album, The Folly of Melancholy. 2023 will see her recital ‘Fairy Music: Ceol Sí’ performed throughout County Wicklow as well as ongoing appearances with The Irish Chamber Orchestra and collaborations with various artists including Imogen-Blue Hinohosa, Una Palliser, Shiva R Joyce, theatre maker Anna Newell and guitarist Eamon Sweeney. Aisling’s work is supported by Arts Council Ireland and Wicklow County Council.

Frank Bunting

Frank Bunting is a collateral descendant of Edward Bunting. Frank’s 4th great grandfather was Anthony Bunting – Edward’s older brother, early music teacher and carer in Drogheda.

An Australian by birth and now living in Derbyshire, Frank has traced and published (Duiche Neill, Vol. 24) the history of his Buntings back to their roots in County Armagh, and collaboratively further back to the ancient Buntingfield Estate, Ashover parish, Derbyshire. As well, and as a work then in progress, he also published his research into the family history of Bunting’s influential, but usually overlooked, mother Mary Quin (DN, Vol. 25).

Frank is a retired mineral exploration geologist who has latterly redirected his research and exploration skills to investigate deeply some selected avenues of his ancestry. The results of his Bunting-line family history research provide new insights into the ancestry of Ireland’s celebrated musicologist, Edward Bunting.

Máire Ní Chathasaigh

Máire is “the doyenne of Irish harp players” (SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY) and recipient of Irish music’s most prestigious Award, Gradam Ceoil TG4 – Musician of the Year – “for the excellence and pioneering force of her music, the remarkable growth she has brought to the music of the harp in Ireland and for the positive influence she has had on the young generation of harpers.”

A multiple All-Ireland and Pan-Celtic winner, she developed profoundly influential techniques for harp performance of traditional Irish music, heard on her pioneering New-Strung Harp (1985) and subsequent seven recordings with guitarist Chris Newman – with whom she tours worldwide.

Anne-Marie O’Farrell

Leading harpist of her generation, Dr Anne-Marie O’Farrell from Dublin has performed all over the world as a solo artist, accompanist and in ensembles, and is regularly featured in broadcasts.

On lever harp, she is particularly recognized for her expansion of repertoire and levering  techniques, as a result of which the world’s leading harp makers Salvi Harps redesigned their lever harps to become concert instruments.  She has performed with numerous orchestras, including the Irish Baroque Orchestra, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, the Irish Memory Orchestra, and the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra. Last year she premiered her lever harp concerto, In Light Anew (commissioned by RTÉ Lyric FM) with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales at the World Harp Congress in Cardiff.

A prolific recording artist, she has released several CDs, including Just So Bach, Harping Bach to Carolan, The Jig’s Up, My Lagan Love and Embrace: New Directions for Irish Harp; Double Strung and Duopoly with Cormac De Barra; and Harp to Harp with harmonica player Brendan Power.

She is frequently invited to give recitals, workshops and masterclasses at international conferences and festivals around the world, in addition to performance at several World Harp Congresses.

She is Head of Harp at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, where she runs a thriving harp department. Dedicated to the expansion of repertoire for the lever harp, she has published critical editions for lever harp of Bach’s cello, keyboard and lute repertoire. Anne-Marie holds a PhD in composition with Piers Hellawell at Queen’s University Belfast and masters degrees in performance, musicology and composition.

Recent large-scale commissions include a Civil War Cantata commissioned by UCD, several orchestral works, and a five-movement work for large harp ensemble commissioned by Harp Ireland/Cruit Éireann.

Cormac de Barra

Cormac de Barra comes from a family of traditional Irish musicians and singers, and first studied Irish harp with his grandmother, Róisín Ní Shé. He was awarded a scholarship to study concert harp in the United States at the age of fourteen. At the Dublin Feis Ceoil Cormac has won both the under eighteen harp competition and the O’Carolan Cup.

His performing career has taken him to places as far away as Africa and Asia, where he spent six months playing at Expo ‘90 in Osaka, Japan and to Spain where he also spent six months playing at Expo ‘92 in Seville. While in Japan he gave a command performance for Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at their Imperial Palace.

He has performed extensively and given workshops throughout Europe and the USA in addition to making several recordings of traditional music with other members of his family.

Cormac presented the award-winning traditional music series Flosc on TG4. He has also been involved in music for theatre, performing in a number of productions including The Cúchulainn Cycle by W. B. Yeats and Mysteries 2000 at the SFX, both directed by Michael Scott and the first tour of Irish Modern Dance Theatre’s Slam. Cormac also collaborated on the music  and lyrics for Siamsa Tíre’s latest production Tearmann.

Performing with singer and actress Hazel O’Connor he has toured Britain, Europe, the United States and Australia. Cormac released his first solo CD Barcó in 2002 to much critical acclaim.

He has toured internationally and recorded several albums with Moya Brennan of Clannad.

Rachel Hair

“A superb Highland Harper” (BBC Radio 2)

Rachel Hair is “One of the UK’s finest contemporary Celtic harpists and tunesmiths” (Songlines).

With her music deeply rooted in her Highland upbringing, she is now based in Glasgow, a city renowned for it’s melting pot of musical and cultural style. She has toured extensively throughout Europe, the USA and beyond, and released 6 critically acclaimed albums with her 7th with guitar duo partner Ron Jappy due for release in May 2023.

A sought-after soloist and teacher worldwide she has taught and performed at harp festivals in the USA, Russia, France, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Ireland, Germany and Scotland and published 5 books of harp arrangements and compositions.

Her music and arrangements can be found performed by harpists throughout the world and her lockdown Harp at Home Youtube series was followed by thousands of harpists worldwide, helping unite celtic harp players through the challenge of the pandemic.