Friday, February 20, 2009

Information About the Celtic Harp

Few instruments can be traced back to 4000 BC or are rooted in cultures spanning the globe. The harp holds a special place in the Old Testament, played by Jubal and King David, and in classical antiquity, played by Orpheus. Harps existed in Babylonia and Mesopotamia, depicted in drawings on the tomb of Pharaoh Ramses III. Harps are also found in carvings from the Middle East and in Greek sculptures. Also found in Africa, the harp traveled north to Spain and soon spread throughout Europe. The harp later arrived in South America brought there by the Spaniards.

The world's harps vary according to size, structure, decoration, and woods and materials used for the body of the instrument and the strings. But there is one thing they all have in common: their strings run vertical (rather than parallel) to the sound box. The correct term for describing a person who plays any harp other than an orchestra harp is "harper", not "harpist".

Early Irish harps were quite different from the large pedal harps that are used in modern orchestras. They were much smaller, originally held on the harper's lap. They had no pedals, and were carved in one piece from bogwood.

Griffith of Wales employed harpers in his court at the end of the 11th century. Both Irish and Scottish harpers were greatly admired for their skills throughout Europe, and they commonly visited each others countries to study, learn, and exchange tunes. The Trinity College Harp and Queen Mary's Harp are the oldest surviving Celtic harps and both date back from the 15th or 16th centuries. These harps were wire strung, rather than gut or nylon strung as they are today. The word "harp" has its roots in the Anglo-Saxon, Old German and Old Norse words, and means "to pluck." In Gaelic, they were known first as cruit and now as clarsach or clairseach.

Harpers were highly trained professionals who performed for nobility and enjoyed political power. In the 16th Century, Queen Elizabeth I decided to put a stop to this and issued a proclamation to hang Irish harpists and destroy their instruments.

The harp later became Ireland's national emblem, and it still adorns its flag, Irish Euros, and, of course, bottles of Guinness beer. Ironically, even with these great reminders of Ireland's love of the harp, most of the ancient airs and melodies once played on the harp are gone to the ages. Today's harpers are now taking up the challenge to reintroduce the Celtic harp to the modern world.

The Celtic harp produces pretty bell-like tones, which lend authenticity to a repertoire of traditional Irish and English music, and adds a unique sound to all music played on it. The Celtic harp is a naturally acoustic instrument, but it can be amplified when the need arises. This beautiful instrument is handcrafted of fine hardwoods. It can be easily carried; it can go where concert harps cannot. Its versatility and transportability make the Celtic harp suitable for a variety of occasions, events, and venues. The dynamics and beauty of the Celtic Harp lends charm and elegance to any event.

Anne Roos is available for booking for your event. Contact her at and by phone (within the continental U.S.) at 800-255-6318. Visit Anne's website at Celtic Harp Music by Anne Roos to listen to samples and view her extensive music list.

- -©2009 Anne Roos. Information in this article gathered from "The Irish Harp", by Susanna Duffy, and published on Traditional Irish Music on February 15, 2009. Information also gathered from "In Praise of...Harps", published in The Guardian on June 6, 2007.

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Visit from the Irish American Roadtrip Team

I was thrilled when Corey and Liam, hosts of the Irish Fireside Podcast, scheduled a visit with me on their Irish American Roadtrip on February 13, 2009. Here are some selected photos from their visit:

After slogging through snowy Sierra mountain roads to get to Tahoe, I treated Corey and Liam to a proper Irish tea, served on vintage Belleek china. The menu included Irish blondies, made with St. Brendan’s Irish Cream Liquor (you can find this recipe in the liner notes of my “Haste to the Wedding” CD). They also nibbled on my husband’s special recipe scones (you’ll have to email me for this recipe).
Then, we all piled into the Irish American Roadtrip official vehicle, a van named Fiona. Here, Liam gives up the “thumbs up” while snow continues to fall.

Later that evening, Anne played a few tunes on her harp and Liam sang along with “She Moved Through the Fair”--A private concert with a souvenir photo from their visit. (Listen to this tune on Anne’s "Haste to the Wedding” CD, too)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Celtic Shaman Podcast

Celtic Shaman Podcast,
shamanic journey, Celtic tradition

I am pleased that my music is featured in the February 1, 2009 edition of the Celtic Shaman Podcast in honor of the festival Imbolc, which is one of the four principal festivals in the Irish calendar, celebrated among Gaelic peoples. Imbolc is most commonly celebrated on February 2nd, which falls halfway between the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox in the northern hemisphere.

Fire and purification are an important aspect of this festival. The lighting of candles and fires represents the return of warmth and the increasing power of the Sun over the coming months. The holiday is dedicated to Brighid or Bride, the Gaelic goddess of poetry, healing, and smithcraft, and in the Christian period, Imbolc was adopted as St. Brighid’s Day.

In the following podcast, you'll be treated to stories and my music in celebration of this Celtic festival. Here’s an excerpt from the show notes:

Bride: Light of Imbolc

"Brighid of the Mantles, your mantle over me. Brighid of the Fair White Hands, your hand in mine."

Included is Dillon Carlyon’s reading from A Book of Saints and Wonders by Lady Gregory [1906] Book One: Brigit, The Mary of the Gael found at Sacred Texts.

Tira Brandon-Evans comments on traditions connected with Bride and Imbolc and reads from notes and invocations from the Carmina Gadelica. Smooring the Fire, Guarding the Flocks, and The Spell of the Fox. Dillon alternates with Tira reading the invocations in Gaelic and English.

The invocations are followed by “Epping Forest”, a song from my album A Light in the Forest.

If you enjoy our podcasts you may wish to join our public group or visit our homepage at Have a happy and blessed Imbolc. Be well, be strong, be free!

Sample my CDs—take a trip to the Listening Room.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Irish American Roadtrip

Liam and Corey, hosts of the popular travel podcast, the Irish Fireside Podcast decided to take a drive from the shores of Lake Michigan to the Pacific Coast in search of all things Irish. And they are chronicling their tales from the road in short video snippets. They have graciously included my music in several of their videos souvenirs from their travel journeys across America.

You’ll find my music in their Seventh Video from the Road. Liam
and Corey used “Metal Man” from my Mermaids & Mariners CD
when they visited the birthplace of John Wayne (an Irishman
through and through) on January 24, 2009.

From their Tenth Video from the Road, you’ll hear “Red is the Rose”
(also known as the Scottish song “Loch Lomond”) from my Haste
to the Wedding CD. In this video, they visited a mine in Ajo,
Arizona, on January 30th.

On February 1st, Liam and Corey commented that they heard my
music in a Redlands, California, antique store, to everyone’s
pleasant surprise. She’s hoping they’ll come for a visit at Lake
Tahoe, and also visit the Northern California Sierra foothills—the
birthplace of the California Gold Rush, where Irish traveled to stake
their claims.

Hear more wonderful Irish music and watch Liam and Corey’s
ongoing trip on video. They would love to hear your comments on
their blog, too.

Sample my CDs--take a trip to my Listening Room.