Posted by: mdmusingsie | September 29, 2011


I’ve always been fascinated by the harp. I supposed it goes along with my attraction to bards and all things medieval. It’s a beautiful instrument to behold, in all of its many forms, and it’s even more amazing when you listen to the echoes it brings forth. Although I find the harp intriguing, I can’t say I’ve ever taken the time to learn all about the instrument or its masters; though when I see it or hear it played, I am generally mesmerized.

Many people may see harp music as slow and soothing, but in Cape Breton a few years ago, I heard Irish harpist Laoise Kelley perform some very lively tunes that made me look at the harp in a whole new way. Multi-talented Moya Brennan, who is a harpist as well, recently released a beautiful new CD with harpist Cormac de Barra called Voices and Harps, which I’m particularly enjoying at the moment.

So when I saw Breton Celtic harp master Alan Stivell was going to be playing as part of a larger Breton festival, I decided to check it out. Using a very modern, electric harp, he played standing up instead of in the traditional sitting position for the traditional harp. While some of his tunes were in an improvisational style with irregular rhythms, it was fascinating watching him play. Many others were in a more recognizable Celtic style and by the end of the show he had everyone clapping and singing along. He has made a name for himself by pushing the boundaries of the instrument and Celtic music in general and it was easy to see why he’s considered to be one of the great masters.


  1. […] first few tunes were performed using two of my most favorite instruments, the harpsichord and the harp, it quickly exceeded my expectations. He was joined by other talented musicians including Cormac Ó […]

  2. […] mentioned in a previous post on harps, I first heard Laoise Kelly play in Cape Breton at the Celtic Colours Festival, and was blown away […]

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