Today I’d like to introduce you to another harpist, whose music has never yet been featured on my blog before. Phyllis Taylor Sparks is from Nashville, and she plays both pedal as well as Celtic harp, and has also been a harp teacher since a young age. This gentle piece comes from her album called Harp Horizons.
Previously, I have shared with you this composition of Turlough O’Carolan played by
Nadia Birkenstock, Celia Briar and Lynn Saoirse, and now I thought I’d share with you yet another version of this beautiful tune, played by another harpist whose music I’ve been sharing with you quite regularly, that is Delyth Evans, currently known as Delyth Jenkins, whom you may also recognise as part of the D&A duo which she forms together with her daughter Angharad who is a fiddler. You can find out more about this song and its origins clicking the links above.
Thought I’d share another song performed by Celia Briar today. This time, it’s a tune composed by 18th century Scottish fiddler called Niel Gow, who wrote it one year when harvest in highlands was very poor, and there was a major barley shortage. As a result, local people were prohibited from producing whiskey, which caused them great sadness. I like Celia’s harp arrangement of this tune.
For today, I’d like to share with you a piece from the Welsh triple harpist whose name you’re probably very familiar with from my blog already. This hiraethful (or hiraethus in the actual Welsh language; if you don’t know what hiraeth is, you can read
Today I have for you yet another piece composed by Turlough O’Carolan played by the Irish Celtic harpist Lynn Saoirse, and at the same time yet another rendition of “Carolan’s Farewell to Music” on this blog. You might wonder why I’m talking about “Carolan’s Farewell to Music” when the song title that’s in the post title is “Carolan’s Dream”. The explanation is as simple as could be – this song is known under these two titles. – Actually more than two titles, as originally it was called “Molly McAlpin”. I was wondering for a long time how come “Carolan’s Dream” and “Farewell to Music” are essentially the same tune. A while ago I finally did some research and it turns out that the “Carolan’s Farewell to Music” name seems to be incorrect, but still in use nevertheless. Also, it’s apparently not O’Carolann himself who wrote the tune, but William Connellan. O’Carolan really liked it though and might have modified it. I’ve read that he is claimed to have said that he’d like it much more if he composed “Molly McAlpin” alone than all the other tunes he did compose himself. That would make the story of him composing “Farewell to Music” on his deathbed, that I mentioned when sharing
Hi to all you lovely people after a bit of a break! 🙂
I was on a trip to Masuria with my family, hence there were no posts from me for a while. Among all the amazing harpists I love whose music I’ve introduced to you on here, never before have I shared anything from Nadia Birkenstock, so now is the time. Nadia Birkenstock is a Celtic harpist as well as singer from Germany, but known in Celtic music circles around the world. I’ve been aware of her music for many years but only recently started listening to her music a lot more. She learned to play harp at a young age but received formal training later in the US, from, among others, the American Celtic harpist Kim Robertson, whose one piece I’ve shared on this blog as well. She plays a lot of traditional Celtic music but also composes her own material.
This particular tune is a traditional one. Last year I have already shared with you a tune called
and said how I think it’s very depressing and wondered why such title. Then months later I decided to broaden my knowledge about Turlough O’Carolan a bit. I always found him very interesting but decided I really want to get to know him a bit better than just the basics. What I learned has interested me further and now I’m looking for some books about his life and also music. Over that period of time, I finally learned why such a depressing title of Celia Briar’s tune, as it is the name of the last composition of O’Carolan, that he played shortly before his death. He could feel that his life was about to end, and thus decided to go to the home one of his patrons, the one with whom he had a very close relationship – Mrs. McDermott Roe – and played this song while there. That was where he later died, surrounded by friends.
This beautiful solo harp piece with an oh so depressing title that I feel like sharing with you today comes from the Irish harpist whose music I’ve shared with you quite often before – that is Celia Briar. – I think it’s one of her more beautiful pieces so I hope you enjoy it too. 🙂
Here’s another lovely harp-driven tune for you guys, from a harpist whose music I shared with you before. This composition sounds contemporary to me, and turns out that that’s what it is. It was composed by Scottish folk singer songwriter Dougie MacLean, and the Craigie Dhu in the title was a place (property) where he lived. I think moving houses, especially such that are dear enough to you that you feel like capturing them in music, is a very stressful and unsettling thing but this farewell doesn’t sound all that sad at all, it sounds very hopeful, don’t you think? So if you need a bit of hope for the future in your life, maybe you can find it in here.
So why not have a listen to another song by Cornelis Vreeswijk, plus a cover by Marie Fredriksson?
Again, we have a female character here, which comes up even more often in Vreeswijk’s songs and poems. The character of Ann-Kat(a)rin Rosenblad is based on his muse and friend who was Ann-Christin Wennerström. And, the portrayal of her that we get from all the songs with her in them is quite interesting and ambiguous. I like Ann-Katrin a lot and hearing this song always makes me sad. First, because it comes from Cornelis’ very last album, (Till Fatumeh – Rapport Från De Osaligas Ängder”) which was recorded about a month or so before his premature death (he died from liver cancer at 50). Secondly, because the song indicates that Ann-Katrin was a drug addict, amphetamine more exactly as in the case of Vreeswijk, though he was taking loads of other stuff as well. The lyrics have a kind of raw but at the same time rather elusive feel and I really regret that I’m not good enough in neither Swedish nor English to write an adequate English translation for you without risking a major linguistic catastrophe and a great prophanity, the more that there are none available online. The only thing that bugs me is the music style of it. Like, seriously, the lyrics on that last album are really captivating, you don’t have to agree with what he wrote and I most often don’t but his lyrics always have that captivating quality, but the musical arrangement of this album is mostly screwed. He maybe wasnät the greatest composer, but was such a great blues singer, and even managed to convince me to appreciate jazz a tiny little bit, and he was great at incorporating folk themes and motives in his music. And that last album is very much like classic 80’s pop, and this track is a great representation of it. I don’t like that at all and it clashes with the lyrics and generally with Cornelis’ actual musical style unbelievably! That turn to pop was motivated by that, after some years of relative fame, he had become forgotten and the way I understand it from what Iäve read he wanted to get the attention of people by doing something more… ahem, timely, or whatever, especially he wanted to attract younger people. It didn’t work, that is, he did get a lot of fame and largely from young people in Sweden after his death but not because those last two pop-ish albums did that, it was thanks to the Roskilde Festival where he played shortly before his death and, well, it looks like for artists it’s a common situation that they only get appreciated after they die. Perhaps that was better for him.
I like the expression of Marie Fredriksson’s interpretation of this song. I think in case of music, like, generally the arrangement, it’s her who wins here! But she’d never write as good lyrics as Vreeswijk did, haha. Marie Fredriksson’s cover again comes from the tribute album “Den Flyggande Holländaren”.
I really like this song. I don’t know much of this band’s music, but this song has really something beautiful to it. I feel like Hem is quite a famous band, but if you don’t know, I’ll tell you they’re from Brooklyn, and they make music in a range of styles, from folklore, to Americana, from jazz to classical music. I think they’re good, and lots of people like them.