2015 Future Plans

Having hit 60 (thank you all who sent good wishes for my birthday week!) I can truly say I`m fired up for the future, with imminent Macmath gigs, Fèis an Iar Dheas, schools teaching, Cairn Chorus and my first foray into concertina workshops at the Elphinstone Institute in Aberdeen buttonboxesandmoothies.wordpress.com  For this winter I`m making definite plans for a composition CD plus more books and projects.

Not least of which is being a music strand leader in the Creative Place Award that Moniaive and Glencairn won from Creative Scotland this year – have a look at the film we put together to win it !

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Where did that year go!

Well sorry for the lack of communication but the last 12 months just seem to have skidded by with a severe lack of info to my website, must try harder!

It’s obviously been a busy year with trips around the UK and abroad , meeting old friends and making new ones. A few highlights were teaching with the lovely Susan Enochsson in  Kristianstad in February  in southern Sweden, performing Tom Pow`s prose cycle Nine Nests with cellist Alex McQuiston at the Edinburgh Harp Festival in April, getting Chris Wood to the Moniaive Folk Festival and playing in the Macmath Collective  at Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival,  both in May.

June was the silly amount of flying, something I need to watch I know, but all wonderful trips – to Bavaria to play at the annual Pfingsten meeting in Marktwald,  to Iceland for the fantastic Vaka Festival http://www.thjodlist.is/vakaen/vaka-2015 organised by Chris Foster and Bara Grimsdottir, then to northern Germany for midsummer music and finally to the USA through to mid July. Ohio Scottish Arts School felt great to be back, such a hoot meeting old friends and such enthusiasm from the students then I finally taught at Common Ground on the Hill in Maryland,  a ground breaking festival that explores so much more than music and where I met and shared special time with such luminaries as Guy Davies, Professor Louie, Bruce Molsky and members of the Veteran`s Initiative. All this thanks to great friends Sue Richards, Jen Narkevicius , Jo and Wayne Morrison – I love you all!

Calmer waters were much needed after all that and I re-girded the musical loins (!) for my annual foray to Brancepeth Castle in County Durham for the great course run by Jen, Steven and Louise  very closely followed by our annual harp build course at Wallaceton Hall with Christoph and Eva of Klangwerkstatt. Another 12 Bohemian harps made and much wine a food consumed.

I finished the month by leading a singing walk – Songlines – as part of the second Environmental Arts Festival of Scotland,  based at Morton Castle just near to us. A very special weekend full of amazing images that will stay with me for a long time. Indeed, only this last weekend , I felt a similar sense of wonder at the unique bond of people experiencing life enriching moments together when I stayed the night at Sanctuary – a 24 festival of light and dark in the Galloway Forest Park. sanctuary2015.org  It surely is a grand rich place to live round here………….

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What’s coming up

We are back to school here and I`m teaching right down in Drummore this term – the most southerly village in Scotland on the Mull of Galloway. The kids are a delight and the drive through the Galloway Forest Park (Dark Skies Designated) is stunning though it makes a long long day………..

Our next Clarsach Society Branch plays are set for –
Saturday September 13th 2-5pm in St Ninian`s, Castle Douglas,
Saturday October 11th 10am – 4pm in Holywood Hall , Dumfries with the wonderful Fiona Rutherford on creating and composing
Saturday 8th November 10-1pm Holywood Hall
Saturday December 6th Wallaceton Hall 10-1pm then hopefully playing at Thomas Tosh fabulous cafe and shop in Thornhill about 3pm

I`ll also be teaching the Transpennine Branch on Saturday 27th September in Baildon, Yorkshire and looking forward to catching up with old friends there.

3pm October 3rd I`m involved in a lovely little concert at the wonderfully named Cruggleton Church down on the Machars as part of the Wigtown Book Festival. This will be a performance, by candlelight, of Tom Pow`s poem cycle ‘Nine Nests’ and we hope to repeat this, without the candelight, at Edinburgh International Harp Festival next year.

October I`ll also be heading to the States, adjudicating Scottish Harp at Stone Mountain Highland Games, Atlanta, Georgia followed by teaching at the Southeastern Harp weekend in Ashville North Carolina.

Then it`ll be back to another term of different primary schools in the area for the winter term and getting rehearsed for our choir concerts before and after Christmas. This year we are focusing on songs and music reflecting the Christmas Truce of 1914, that wonderful , though all too brief moment when German, British and French troops came out of the trenches and shared a common humanity. We`ll also be singing songs reflecting conflict still all too apparent in Palestine, Ukraine and Russia but interspersed with some very uplifting words, music and great sing along songs! More info at www.cairnchorus.co.uk

and I must get that new CD done this winter………………….

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Where has all the summer gone?

Well not entirely gone as the weather here is still pretty lovely but its certainly been a busy summer but also one full of wonderful moments.

I`m feeling mellow after Harmony Week at Laurieston Hall near Castle Douglas – my treat to myself of great singing, food, music, company and craic in an amazing place – and am trying to hold onto the new relaxed me when all the work stuff kicks in!

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Spring and summer events

Fèis Rois Inbhich (May 3rd – 5th)
Adult Feis in Ullapool teaching concertina for the first time plus advanced harp www.feisrois.org

Moniaive Folk Festival (May 9th – 11th)
I`m artistic director of this one and its shaping up to be as good a weekend as it always is with Karine Polwart, Craobh Rua, The Old Dance School, Swedish band Svanevit, Robyn Stapleton and an opening dance from Caper Ceilidh Band. Tickets and more info www.moniaivefolkfestival.co.uk

Performance of ‘The Song of the Oak and the Ivy’ (May 24th)   
at Castle Douglas Town Hall 7.30pm.
£10 (under 26’s half price)
Corrina Hewat`s amazing composition for 5 harpers (including yours truly) on 9 harps,
acoustic, electro and wire. Have a listen to extracts on Corrine’s Sound Cloud site.
Part of the Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival www.dgartsfest.com

 ‘The Song of the Oak and the Ivy’ (May 25th)
at Moniaive Institute 7.30pm £10 (under 26’s half price)
Tickets from www.dgartsfest.com  or from me wendyharp@hotmail.co.uk   Harp music like you’ve never heard it before…….

Pfingsten Festival (June 6th – 9th)
Teaching British revival folk song and some German links at Pfingsten Festival in Marktwald, Bavaria where the wonderful Bohemian harps are made. www.klangwerkstatt.de

Clarsach Society Workshop (June 15th)
2-5pm at St Ninian`s Church Hall, Castle Douglas

 ‘Song among the Stones’ (June 15th)
at The Swallow Theatre, Whithorn  7.30pm £8
Performance of ‘Song among the Stones’ narrative poem by Kenneth Steven with harp music and soundscape.  www.swallowtheatre.com

Midsummer in Moniaive (June 21st)
Incipient Choir/singing day for Midsummer in Moniaive. Plans are afoot to get a regular festival going but there will definitely be something singy in the village that day !

Harp Workshop (June 28th)
Back to the Isle of Lewis to teach a harp workshop – it will be great seeing all the old friends there again.

Harp Workshop (July 5th)
Workshop 1.45pm and concert 3.30pm at The Creebridge House Hotel
Part of the Newton Stewart Traditional and Acoustic Music Festival. Great music happening all weekend so check out www.tradmusic.com for more info.

Concert (July 18th)
at Gracefield, Dumfries with Gaelic writer Meg Bateman – more info soon.

Cajun afternoon and evening (July 20th)
in Moaniaive with the Magnolia Sisters www.magnoliasisters.com.
Planning a singing workshop followed by Gumbo followed by a concert and dance – more info to come.

Harp Course (August 3rd –6th) 
at Brancepeth Castle, County Durham.
This is a course I do every year, for all abilities and its very special in so many ways, not least the folks who organise it and the setting ! www.northernharps.co.uk/courses

Harp (and other instrument) Build Course (August 12th – 16th) 
with Christoph Locherbach in Dumfriesshire.
Our annual building course is filling up quickly so get in touch if you want more info and have a look at the possibilities on www.klangwerkstatt.de

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Other projects

Other projects on the bubble are recording Nine Nests – nine lessons and carols for Spring written by Tom Pow and with Alex McQuiston on cello. I`m also very proud to be playing electro harp and singing backing vocals for one of my son Colin`s songs. Plus the whole family has been busy getting mum`s 90th birthday bash organised.
The James Clerk Maxwell piece I wrote for the Environmental Festival last year may get more airings as part of a film soundtrack being put together by Kenny Caldwell of Being There Media.
I`ll be teaching traditional music and song one day a week next term again as part of the Feis Rois/ YMI/ D&G Council initiative getting trad music into primary schools – exhausting but great fun too……….
…………..and I am determined to get a solo CD recorded this autumn!
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Fires at Midnight

Busy months ahead as you`ll see if you care to peruse my calendar but I have managed to get a collection of 13 beginners harp pieces together in music book form with an accompanying CD.
Called ‘Fires at Midnight’ after one of my greatest hits, it sold like the proverbial hot cross buns in Edinburgh. It also includes another of my compositions, named by my great niece Ella:
If you care to have a copy of the book and CD just email wendyharp@hotmail.co.uk  with your address, send a cheque for £13 made out to Wendy Stewart and I`ll get one to you. Paypal will be set up soon as I have time!


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Harp Festival

Just back from 5 days teaching at the Edinburgh International Harp Festival which had an amazing range of concerts and workshops this year. Inspiring and uplifting as usual with sword fighting and dancing the minuet (though not at the same time) an especial highlight, plus the sessions were as great as ever.
Check out the website www.harpfestival.co.uk for great photies – and do come next year.
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Looking ahead

So am back to work now and this year is shaping up nicely with some exciting home grown projects and work for others.

I`ll be starting teaching in several local schools again from next week – singing, group music making, song writing and ukelele this time. I`m working on a solo CD with accompanying music book and aiming to have it out by April. Later that month, after the wonder that is the Edinburgh International Harp Festival www.harpfestival.co.uk , I`m hoping to do a wee local tour with poet Tom Pow and cellist Alex McQuiston performing his `Nine Nests` series of poems – nine lessons and music for Spring.

Here comes the sun…..

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January 2014 – Happy New Year to all!

Hope you had a good time wherever you are and whatever you got up to at this dark time of year.

We are very lucky in Glencairn that our community celebrates in many ways together to help herald in the lengthening days that we all look forward to. I think we feel it even more strongly here, in a part of the world that has been going through a really wet and cold few weeks with widespread floods. It amazes me though, when out on walks with the dogs, to see bulbs poking their first leaves above ground that has been under 4 foot of raging torrent.

We started the season with our traditional midwinter gathering at Wallaceton village hall – singing, harping and much merriment. Then a pre christmas carol crawl around local hostelries and many choir singing opportunities through the holidays up to a 12th night concert with the wonderful Cairn Chorus filling their lungs and lifting spirits all round. New Year`s day ( after a wonderful hogmanay with family and friends round a Snade Mill bonfire) I went to contra dance at Lauriston village hall, not realising I had broken a rib two days before when out on a healthy walk up the hill to view spectacular flooding in the glen. That evening played concertina in the scratch band at the Moniaive village ceilidh but had to bow out when the rib injury finally kicked in. Getting better now though have to remember to stop myself sneezing !

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