Achill getting ready for the return of international harp festival

The Achill International Harp Festival will return to the island later this month.

The Achill International Harp Festival will return to the island later this month.

Achill International Harp Festival returns to Achill Island over the October Bank Holiday Weekend of October 27 to 30 showcasing the finest exponents of contemporary harp playing representing various styles, genres, and musical cultures. The festival is not only celebrating the harp as our national instrument and emblem, it is showcasing the instrument in its international context, with performers from South America, France, Scotland, and Ireland.

Nightly concerts during the festival will give audiences an opportunity to hear some of the finest international exponents of the harp and other traditional instruments, with Diego Laverde Rojas (Colombia ), Lune Bleue Trio (Brittany ), Corrina Hewat (Scotland ), The Henry Girls (Ireland ), Anne Auffret (Brittany ), Michelle Mulcahy (Ireland ), Màiri and Brìghde Chaimbeul (Scotland ), Laoise Kelly (Ireland ), Floriane Blancke (France ), and Paul Dooley (Ireland ).

The festival opens with a spotlight on Brittany on Friday, October 27 — a specially commissioned Breton-Mayo collaboration funded by the Arts Council. This exciting collaboration features Breton musicians Jean-Michel Veillon (flute/bombarde ), Anne Auffret (vocals/harp ), Clotilde Trouillaud (harp ), Erwan Menguy (Breton pipes/binioù ), Antonin Volson (bass/percussion ), Erwan Berenguer (guitar ), and Mayo artists Laoise Kelly (harp ), Julie Langan (fiddle ), Diarmuid Gielty (fiddle ), Liam Dever (bagpipes ), and Liam Scanlon (dance ). The Breton-Irish cultural collaboration continues on the closing night of the festival with a Breton festnoz – Irish céilí with the best of Breton and Irish musicians, so get your dancing shoes on for this.

The weekend also includes literary offerings with musical accompaniment from Brian Keenan reading from his acclaimed novel Turlough, and Kevin Toolis reading from his recent publication My Father’s Wake, panel discussion about harping in Ireland, harp-making workshops, harp workshops and masterclasses with Irish and international harpers, sean-nós dance, Scottish singing and Breton music workshops, meet the artist, festival club, and lots more.

And, of course there are wonderful opportunities to engage with the harp, through various styles and levels of harp workshops, from complete beginners, through intermediate to advanced, taught by the visiting Irish and international harpers. And for budding harp-makers, the popular harp-making workshop is back, led by master craftsmen Graham Wright (Ireland ) and Charles Perpoil (France ). For more information log on to www.achillharpfestival.ie

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