Coming to Stone Church Arts: Masters of the Celtic Harp with Gráinne Hambly & William Jackson

BELLOWS FALLS, VERMONT - Quite simply, Gráinne Hambly and William Jackson are two of the foremost harpers of Ireland and Scotland. Combining their extraordinary talents on harp as well as concertina, tin whistle and bouzouki, The Masters of the Celtic Harp, have been performing all over the country and dazzling audiences with their artistry. They are coming to the Stone Church Arts concert series on Saturday, March 24 at 7:30 p.m. and performing in the Chapel of Immanuel Episcopal Church, on 20 Church Street in Bellows Falls, Vermont.

IrishPhiladelphia.com wrote, “…the most creative interpretations of Irish and Scottish traditional music you’re likely to hear.” And it is true. Rarely is Irish and Scottish music arranged together with the dynamic and creative finesse of Gráinne Hambly and William Jackson. Besides the contrasting and complimentary sounds and styles of the harps, their performances also include concertina, whistle and bouzouki.

Gráinne Hambly from County Mayo in the west of Ireland is an internationally recognized exponent of the Irish harp and is in great demand as a performer and teacher, both at home and abroad. Gráinne started to play Irish music on the tin whistle at an early age, before moving on to the concertina and later the harp. She lived in Belfast for six years, where she completed a Master’s Degree in Musicology, awarded by Queen’s University (in 1999). Her main research topic was folk music collections and the harp in 18th-century Ireland. She also completed the Graduate Diploma in Education (Music) at the University of Limerick.

Gráinne has been playing professionally as a solo musician for the past 13 years, and has performed on various occasions in Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Brazil, Colombia, Israel, and Japan, as well as touring extensively in the United States, giving concerts, workshops and masterclasses.

She has attracted glowing praise for her live performances and recorded material, which brilliantly showcase what has been described as her ‘absolute mastery of the Irish harp’. Known for the sensitivity and expressive quality of her air-playing, as well as her dynamic performance of dance tunes, Gráinne’s playing illustrates the full range and scope of this ancient instrument.

William Jackson has been at the forefront of Scottish traditional music for nearly 30 years. In addition to his stature as one of the leading harpers and multi-instrumentalists in Scotland, William has gained an international reputation as a composer. His “Land of Light” won the international competition in 1999 as the new song for Scotland, announced on the eve of that Parliament convening for the first time in 300 years.

William was a founding member and creative tour de force of Ossian in 1976, which became one of Scotland’s best-loved traditional bands. The band, whose music influenced a generation of musicians, extensively toured the U.S. and Europe. Besides harp, he also plays tin whistle bouzouki and piano.

While working with Ossian, William established himself as a composer and he has steadily knit together Celtic influences with classical instrumentation in a style uniquely his own. He has an impressive list of commissioned works and subsequent recordings, including “The Wellpark Suite,” “St. Mungo”, and “Inchcolm”.

Alex Monaghan, in the Irish Music Magazine, writes,”…soaring airs and more down-to-earth dance music, and both genres are beautifully handled.” Sorrel Devine, of the Irish Ceilidhe Club in Rhode Island declares, “Their tune selections were outstanding and their arrangements exquisite; couple that with the history and the humor and I felt it was an unbeatable night of music.“

“Dazzling Artistry,“ pronounces the presenter at Sellersville Theater, Sellersville, Pennsylvania. And the producers of the Somerset Folk Harp Festival in England enthuse, “Simply the best! Our perennial favorite performers.”

Come experience Scottish and Irish harp traditions at their best with Gráinne Hambly and William Jackson, Masters of the Celtic Harp, on Saturday, March 24 at 7:30 pm at Immanuel Episcopal Church, 20 Church St., Bellows Falls. Tickets in advance are $20 general admission, $15 for seniors, and $45 for premium, reserved seats. At the door, prices increase by $5 to $25 general admission and $20 for seniors. Information and advance tickets are available in person at Village Square Booksellers on the Square in Bellows Falls, by phone at 802-460-0110, and online at www.stonechurcharts.org.