Always get called to do unexpected things as a harpist... Canon has release a new camera - Canon EOS RP - and asked me to model for their clients: one week in Melbourne and the next in Sydney. The brief was 'professionals in their element'. I was made up and then performed short pieces for a few hours while clients tried out the new camera.
Play at the beautiful Montsalvat on the weekend at Naoko & Jeremy's wedding. Such a beautiful venue for a wedding. They even invited me to be part of their guest photo! Congratulations lovers <3
Over the past few months Deon Ning and I have been catching up and discussing all things harp-related, and also what teas we like :)
Out of these discussions came the idea to hold a concert together... and here it is! We are very much looking forward to our first duet performance together and would love to see you there!
Our family band Classically Celtic will be performing again this year at the National Celtic Festival this coming long weekend. I am also playing with the Fiona Ross Band and Feis Rois collaboration. Check out the National Celtic Festival website for more info: www.nationalcelticfestival.com
Last year my mum Cathy Blake and her 'clan' (meaning us girls) were honoured with the title 'Face of the Festival 2015', so I thought it fitting to put up a photo with all our faces on it! You can read all about it here...
Just a quick trip to Canada... I was very fortunate to be invited to attend and play at the Celtic Colours International Festival in Canada. The trip lasted for two weeks and it took 8 planes to get there and back. My harp and I are now both very well traveled!
Below is a write up I did for a blog dedicated to the partnership I was involved in. It contains a little info on this partnership, my experience over there and a few photos. For more check out: www.ncf-fr-cc.blogspot.com.au/
I have been involved with the Feis Rois and National Celtic Festival collaboration for the past two years in Australia my hometown. It's fantastic to experience first-hand what's happening on the other side of the world and a real eye-opener to the standard of playing, composing and arranging that is modern Celtic music. It's exceptionally high, if anyone was wondering!
As a harpist in Australia my opportunities to learn from and perform with other 'folk harpists' is limited. The harp is a rare instrument, while there are many positives associated with this, performers of such instruments must be persistence and have a thirst to search out knowledge. Consequently, finding a project that brings wonderful clarsach players to your front door is gold! I have learnt much from these one week yearly encounters.
Feis Rois 2014 collaboration was exceptional. Another four talented young musicians came over from Scotland, representing Feis Rois, along with two musicians from Canada sponsored by Celtic Colours International Festival. Fiona Dalgety commissioned the composer and accordionist John Somerville to write The Hector Suite, a piece inspired by the Hector's journey from Scotland to Nova Scotia in 1773. I had the privilege of learning this beautiful 40 minute piece from John and performing it with my fellow Australians, Scots and Canadians at the National Celtic Festival.
A few months later the project and piece was taken to Celtic Colours in Cape Breton; it was now their turn to host the project. To my surprise and excitement I was asked to attend the festival and work on the project again. Now I was representing the National Celtic Festival and Australia. It was quite a surreal experience.
Celtic Colours is located in Cape Breton, an island on the east coast of Nova Scotia. The festival is like nothing I'd experienced before. It ran for 8 days and was spread across the whole of Cape Breton with venues in many of the towns. It takes about 3 hours to drive around Cape Breton, so most days involved a long car ride to attend concerts. With little or no public transport, the festival has tackled the geographical logistics with an amazing transport service for performers. The drivers' enthusiasm was infectious, as was that of the entire community whose support is the heart of Celtic Colours.
It was amazing to experience the richness of Celtic culture and traditions on this tiny island off the east coast of Canada, where Scottish culture has grown and developed over 200 years from the initial settlers who risked everything in search of a better life. The journey to a new world is the inspiration behind The Hector Suite..
The eight-day trip was a wonderful opportunity to reunite with past collaborators and meet an amazing bunch of new Canadian collaborators.. We had a number of performances, but the highlight for me was performing The Hector Suite at Pictou – the birthplace of New Scotland where the Hector landed in 1773. Just before the concert, we were taken on a backstage tour of the Hector Heritage Museum and replica. This gave a new vitality to the story and made me realise its significance to Pictou and Nova Scotia.
The concert was sold out and well received by the townspeople. Unlike the other performances, it was solely dedicated to the 40 minute piece. It was a singular experience to perform it in that location, to an audience who already knew and appreciated the history.
I feel very fortunate to be involved in this project and the cultural exchange it facilitates. I especially loved The Hector Suite and am grateful for the opportunity to perform with amazing musicians in Australia and Canada. These partnerships are important for the continuation and growth of Celtic music and culture, especially among Scottish diasporas. The National Celtic Festival, Feis Rois and Celtic Colours are exceptional cultural ambassadors that perform an essential role in forging and maintaining a partnership that gives young musicians fantastic experiences and global connections.
Another 'Harp and Friends' concert to prepare my students for their upcoming exams. We only had a couple of 'friends' this time - nice to see the harp as a majority! One of my little piano students made her debut and my younger sister Caitlin performed her audition repertoire for VCASS.... which she ended up getting into, CONGRATS!
Leading up we had a workshop with Chris and Catriona on the Saturday and a rehearsal on the Monday. We were then all set to perform the new tunes!
The tour started out in Box Hill on the Friday night, followed by a performance at Christ Anglican Church in Daylesford on Saturday and lastly Swanpool's famous cinema on Sunday.
It was wonderful to have a 'harp section' and perform with Catriona McKay. I hope to do it again soon.
Chris Stout (fiddle) and Catriona McKay (harp) from Scotland joined with the Melbourne Scottish Fiddle Club for a weekend regional tour.
Spent a week up in Sydney at the 12th World Harp Congress. Never experienced anything like it before. It was wonderful to be around so many harpists. I had the privilege of performing in the 'Australian Highlights' concert with Jacinta Dennett and Melina Van Leeuwen. We performed miniatures from the 'Bloody Chamber' for harp trio by David Chisholm.
Another Scottish festival with Fiona Ross, and only a week after the last! Drove up on the Thursday night for the 'Port Campbell Satelite Concert', which was well attended. We then performed at the Camperdown Court House Friday night and Theatre Royal, Saturday. Great, freezing cold weekend with lots of lovely people.
The Fiona Ross Band played at the one off 'Battle of Bannockburn' festival to celebrate 700 years of Scottish independence: 1314 - 2014.
Music was just one aspect of this festival which consisted of Highland dancing, Jousting, Pipe bands, Scottish market stalls, Archery and to top it off; a re-enactment of the 1314 battle.
National Folk Festival
National Celtic Festival
Battle of Bannockburn
Robert Burns Scot Festival
Celtic Colours Int Festival
Chris & Catriona Tour
World Harp Congress
Coomalie Concert - Trio
Melbourne Spring Fashion
Harps Harps Harps