Clàrsach na Bànrighe

Clàrsach na Bànrighe (which means 'The Queen's Harp') is the 2008 debut CD from Simon Chadwick.

The disc presents two complementary programmes, of medieval and 18th century Scottish early harp repertory. The cover illustration shows a detail from the instrument on which the music is played: a newly commissioned replica of the famous medieval Scottish 'Queen Mary' harp.

The medieval section of the CD includes 13th century church repertory from St Andrews Cathedral (where the CD was recorded), as well as from Inchcolm island in the Firth of Forth. The second half of the CD presents, for the first time, the complete repertory of John Robertson of Lude, Perthshire, who owned and played the 'Queen Mary' harp in the early 18th century. As well as airs, ports and a family salute, it includes a Gaelic song on the battle of Sherrifmuir, which has been newly matched to its original tune and is sung by guest, Mairead Murnion, from Co. Down, Ireland.

The 'Queen Mary' harp is one of Scotland's national treasures, on display in a glass case in the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh. This replica was built by sculptor, Davy Patton, from Co. Roscommon in Ireland. It is by far the most accurate ever made, copying not only the shape and form of the original, but also its fantastically intricate decoration. It is carved from only three pieces of timber: willow, apple, and sycamore. Following historical Irish and Scottish practice, the harp has strings of metal wire: medieval 'latten' brass, sterling silver and 18 carat gold.

Simon Chadwick is a specialist in the history, traditions and performance of historical Irish and Scottish harp music. He has been based in St Andrews since early 2006. He is Hon. Secretary of the Historical Harp Society of Ireland, and Assistant Director of its annual summer school, which is held in Kilkenny, Ireland every August and is the main international event for the study of the historical Gaelic harp traditions. Since 2006, he has been researching, performing and teaching at the Wighton Heritage Centre in Dundee, which holds an extensive collection of 17th, 18th and 19th century Scottish music books.

More about the harp

More about Simon

Technical bits

Recorded by Oliver Atack, 21st-24th January 2008, in a medieval vaulted chamber in the ruins of St Andrews cathedral.

Produced with a grant from the Arts Trust of Scotland

Published February 2008 by Early Gaelic Harp Info, ref. EGH 1. UPC barcode no. 634479748639. Copyright etc.

To order a copy click here: Order online

For distribution, wholesale, review copies, rights, permissions, bookings etc. please send an email to enquiries@earlygaelicharp.info or contact Early Gaelic harp Info (contact details on the order page).

Alternatively, the CD is distributed in the UK by Highlander Music and in the USA by Super D.