SIOBHÁN ARMSTRONG (IRL) Director, performing harpist, tutor, workshop leader and speaker
Siobhán was born in Dublin, studied modern harps, read Music at Trinity College Dublin, and worked as a professional choral singer before moving to Germany in the late 1980s. She now divides her time between Kilkenny city and London, performing on single- and multi-row historical European harps and related musicological studies. Vocal music is one of her primary interests: from plainchant to late-medieval Gaelic lays to seventeenth-century European monody to songs of the eighteenth-century Irish harpers.
Siobhán performs and records with some of Europe’s most prestigious early music soloists, directors, orchestras and opera companies. She also collaborates with some of the most interesting singers and historical pipers performing the indigenous music of Ireland and the Scottish Highlands. With her ensemble, The Irish Consort, she has embarked on a ground-breaking project to produce a series of recordings documenting musical practice in Ireland between 1500 and 1800. The first, Music, Ireland and the Sixteenth Century, is released in 2019.
When approaching Gaelic repertory, Siobhán is unusual in her desire to situate herself at the confluence of Historically Informed Performance and oral Irish tradition approaches. She is currently completing PhD studies in the area of early Irish harp performance practice, for which she was awarded a three-year studentship by Middlesex University, London.
Education is at the heart of much of Siobhán's activities. She coaches undergraduate and post-graduate singers and instrumentalists in early Irish music and sixteenth- to eighteenth-century European performance practice, at conservatories and universities, mainly in Ireland, the UK and Europe. In Ireland, Siobhán facilitates the exploration of the traditions and repertory of Ireland’s oldest harp so that the Irish can reclaim this lost aspect of Gaelic culture. To this end, she founded and directs The Historical Harp Society of Ireland. siobhanarmstrong.com
SIMON CHADWICK (N.IRL) Assistant Director, tutor, workshop leader and speaker
Simon was born, and grew up, on the edge of the New Forest, and loved being up on the heath, or at the beach. His mother taught him change-ringing on tower bells when he was just a boy. He went away to University and studied physics for one year before switching to archaeology. He spent many years drifting, travelling, making things, and reading, before turning to music. He became interested in the old Gaelic harp traditions based on the earlier work of Ann Heymann. He started gathering information about the extant historical harps preserved in museums, and this led to commissioning replicas or copies of them. He did a lot of work researching and experimenting with historical stringing and setup. He also started collating and studying the sources for old Irish and Scottish harp music, aiming to restore the old music to the reconstructed instruments. Simon lived in Oxford, England, for eight years, and then in St Andrews, Scotland, for twelve years, before moving to Armagh in 2018. simonchadwick.net
SYLVIA CRAWFORD (N. IRL) General & Financial Administrator, tutor and workshop leader.
Sylvia is from Co. Armagh and has recently completed a Masters by Research in Ethnomusicology, at Dundalk Institute of Technology. Her research focused on the life and music of Patrick Quin, an eighteenth-century harper from Co. Armagh, and on cultural tourism in the Oriel region. Sylvia combines classical and traditional music backgrounds, playing early Irish harp, fiddle and piano. She has a BA Hons in Music and Ethnomusicology from Queen’s University Belfast, and a HDip in Arts Administration from NUI Galway. In recent years Sylvia has been actively involved with the revival of the ‘old’ Irish harp, and has presented concerts, talks and workshops on the subject. She is involved with The Historical Harp Society of Ireland (HHSI), both in an artistic role and as financial administrator. She teaches annually at Scoil na gCláirseach–Festival of Early Irish harp, and privately throughout the year in Co. Armagh and online. She also teaches piano and fiddle. Sylvia’s harp music and research features on Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin’s 2017 online project, www.orielarts.com sylviacrawford.net
EIBHLÍS NÍ RÍORDÁIN (IRL) Performing singer, performing harpist, tutor and workshop leader
Eibhlís is a 2017 and 2018 Oireachtas prize-winning sean-nós singer and is also an historical harpist, working on seventeenth- and eighteenth-century harpers’ song repertory. She is almost unique in accompanying herself on an early Irish harp whilst singing this repertory.
Dr. KAREN LOOMIS (USA) Speaker
Karen Loomis is the world’s leading expert on the surviving medieval Irish harps.
JAMES RUFF (USA) Performing harpist and tutor
Emerging early Irish harpist, invited back after his Irish performing – and tutoring – debut at the 2017 festival.
DARREN MAG AOIDH Performing Irish fiddler and workshop leader
Multi-instrumentalist and specialist in the music of south-east Ulster.
Dr. PAUL DOOLEY Performing harpist
Historical musicologist and medieval harpist.
BRENDAN RING Performing harpist
Uillean piper and pipe-maker who is now an emerging early Irish harpist
SARAH GHRIALLAIS Performing sean-nós singer and workshop leader
Prize-winning singer from a famous, and hugely respected, Connemara family of sean-nós singers.
NANCY HURRELL (USA) Speaker
Historical harpist and musicologist, the leading authority on the nineteenth-century Dublin harp builder, John Egan. http://hurrellharp.com/
Dr. RÓISÍN ELSAFTY Performing singer
Prize-winning singer from Conamara with eclectic collaborations including early music and jazz ensembles.
RONAN BROWNE Performing piper and workshop leader
One of Ireland’s leading traditional musicians, with expertise in archived historical performances.
Dr. LILLIS Ó LAOIRE Performing singer and workshop leader
Senior Lecturer in Irish and Celtic Civilisation at The National University of Ireland at Galway, Lillis Ó Laoire is also a prize-winning performer of the songs of Donegal.