Tuning up to keep Scotland’s oldest instrument alive

Clarsach student Shona Coull, 8, branch musical director Irene Watt and student Iona McFadden, 10, at Dunnottar Castle.
Clarsach student Shona Coull, 8, branch musical director Irene Watt and student Iona McFadden, 10, at Dunnottar Castle.

THE sound of the clarsach – Scotland’s ancient harp – has been heard again at one of the country’s most iconic castles.

This special event was held at Dunnottar Castle, near Stonehaven, to launch the North-east branch of The Clarsach Society.

The aim of organisers is to promote the clarsach – Scotland’s oldest instrument – across an area ranging from Dundee to Banff and all points in between, including Aberdeen.

Branch convener Iain McFadden, said: “We want to not only support the many clarsach players in the North-east, but also introduce this beautiful instrument to a new generation of both players and fans.

“The clarsach was heard in the halls of kings and the homes of ordinary people across our nation for centuries. We want to help ensure it is still heard for centuries to come.”

Apart from the sense of history the clarsach offers, it is also a great instrument for the young to learn, introducing them to a world of beautiful music that can take in solo work, accompaniment and ensemble playing.

Iain said: “One of the main aims of The Clarsach Society is to make harps and tuition available for those wanting to learn.

“We are particularly keen to do this in the North-east, where previously players and students have had to travel quite far for the support we can now offer.”

As part of launching their drive in the North-east, the branch is holding a fund-raising ceilidh in Stonehaven Town Hall on Saturday, November 10.

It will feature a short clarsach concert, followed by a ceilidh featuring the music of Danse McCabre

Iain said: “We hope people will come along to have a great night out, as well as find out more about the clarsach.

“They will also help to keep the sound of our ancient instrument alive for a whole new generation.”

There will also be a Harps Of Gold Christmas Concert in King’s College Chapel, Aberdeen,on Thursday, December 6.

To find out more about the North-east branch of The Clarsach Society and both the concert and ceilidh contact secretary Pamela McFadden on pamelamc@uwclub.net

Those interested can also visit the branch’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ClarsachNorthEast