West Belfast is set to host a series of events during this weekend’s Harps Alive│An Chruit Bheo│Harps Leevin festival.
The festival which runs throughout the weekend in Belfast this week and ends with a commemorative event in Dublin on July 24 will see the West Belfast venue, An Cultúrlann open its doors to history, heritage and harp fans.
An Cultúrlann is an Irish language, arts and cultural centre located at the heart of West Belfast on the Falls Road. Hosting Irish language classes, art workshops, céilithe, events for young people, concerts and art exhibitions throughout the year the centre will host two free events during the festival, a harp workshop and an accompanying concert with Internationally acclaimed harper Cormac de Barra.
A native of Dublin, Cormac was raised in an Irish-speaking family of musicians and singers. He is a third generation harper, having first studied Irish harp with his grandmother, Róisín Ní Shé, before going on to study concert harp in the United States. He has performed across the globe both as a solo artist and with many of Ireland’s most respected and well-known artists.
Cormac has made numerous recordings, including two CDs with members of the De Barra family and two under the title Voices & Harps with singer Moya Brennan. He has also recorded two harp duo CDs with harpist and composer, Anne-Marie O’Farrell, who will also perform as part of the festival over the weekend.
The workshop will take place Sunday, July 17 at 12pm and will offer opportunities for anyone to get involved regardless of ability or experience. Following the workshop, Cormac will perform a special family concert at 1pm featuring the best of harpers’ music.
Other venues hosting festival events over the weekend include city centre spots such as St Joseph’s Church, First Presbyterian Church, Deers Head and Linen Hall Library.
The festival is to mark 230 years since the Belfast Harpers’ Assembly in Belfast. In 1792 the Harpers’ Assembly in Belfast brought together 11 harpers, seven of which were blind and the eldest Denis Hempson was 97 at the time.
Aibhlín McCrann, Chair of Cruit Éireann Harp Ireland, said that celebrating the anniversary presented a unique musical opportunity for the harping community.
“We are delighted to bring harpers from all over Ireland together to mark 230 years since the Belfast Harpers’ Assembly in Belfast” she said.
“Our harping heritage transcends boundaries and has really connected the partners, north and south.
“It is wonderful to hear the harpers’ music reflecting our living tradition and to see that there is so much interest in it. We are looking forward to welcoming audiences across the city of Belfast to our concerts, talks and exhibitions and in Dublin later in the month.”
On Saturday, July 16 at 2.30pm a free admission Citizen’s Manifestation will take place at the Assembly Rooms at the junction of North Street and Waring Street where the Assembly of Harpers took place in 1792. The Citizen’s Manifestation will make the case for Belfast City Council to acquire the building for use as a centre to celebrate Belfast’s enlightened 18th century era. All are welcome and invited to join.
For tickets to Seinnigí Linn le Cormac de Barra Workshop and Concert and for more information about the festival go to http://harpsalive.com