27 June 2019
A concert by Gillian Fleetwood of new compositions, featuring our Erard Harp
27 June, 7 – 9pm
£12, on-line booking essential
For our Summer Festival harp concert, Gillian Fleetwood is composing a new piece of chamber music for pedal harp, clársach, string duo and guitar/electronic manipulation.
Exploring themes of time and improvisation through the lens of the artistic endeavours made at Hospitalfield, she will use our 185-year old Grecian harp to draw inspiration from the ways in which human ingenuity, in collaboration with an understanding of nature and our place in it, shape our histories and futures. Beauty, innovation and the time needed to explore the delicate and ever changing balance of human impact on nature are enduring themes evident to Gillian in the collection at Hospitalfield and this music will be her reflection on the modern context of these ancient human instincts.
The clársach is one of the earliest known musical instruments in Scotland, which makes it a fitting instrument on which to explore these themes, along with Gillian’s passion for the voice. History, cultural roots and self-expression are all demonstrated in Gillian’s compositional style which has been developed from her background in traditional Scottish music.
In a time of uncertainty and worry about the future of the global climate and environment, this piece will not dwell on anxiety, but will be an optimistic exploration of human invention in times of flux.
Gillian Fleetwood cut her teeth playing Scottish traditional music in her hometown of Inverness, Scotland. She has since released two critically acclaimed albums with Scottish harp and song duo The Duplets (The Duplets showcase the instrument’s versatility to spellbinding effect” -The Scotsman) who have performed across Europe, USA, Mexico, Australia and Brazil. She has made a further three albums with Glasgow based folk-pop band State Broadcasters (“I recommend it very, very highly to you.” Ricky Ross – Radio Scotland) and she also enjoys working with contemporary songwriters, having toured and recorded with Agnes Obel, De Rosa, Pictish Trail and others. Also keeping Gillian busy is a collaboration with songwriter Martin John Henry; Henry and Fleetwood who make music rooted in places, nature and experimentation.
Musical life so far has brought performances and tutoring at many international events such as Ohio Scottish Arts Summer School(USA), The National Celtic Festival (Australia), Harfentreffen (Germany), Rencontres Internationales de Harpes Celtiques (Brittany) and enjoys tutoring closer to home at such excellent institutions as Fèis Gleann Albainn, Fèis Spè, Fèis Rois, The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the University of the Highlands and Islands. She published a book of her own pieces and arrangements “Scottish Style Harp” in 2018.
As a composer Gillian has participated on the Distil project, which encourages traditional musicians to participate in cross-genre opportunities, leading to Gillian being selected as a composer on the Further Distillations concert at Celtic Connections and she looks forward to other opportunities in future.
Hospitalfield Erard Harp
In 2016 Hospitalfield run a crowdfunding campaign to enable the renovation of the Grecian Erard Harp, and after receiving it back from the expert craftspeople at Pilgrim Harps, hosted a recital by Sharron Griffiths in the summer of 2017.
Sebastian Erard was born in Strasbourg on 5th April 1752. He moved to Paris in 1768 to explore the fundamentals of instrument making, and it soon became apparent that he was a genius at finding ways around mechanical problems. In 1792 he opened a factory in Great Marlborough Street, London where he made several patented advances in harp technology.
Finally, in June 1810, after eight years of working on it, Sebastian Erard patented the double-action harp with seven pedals (number 3332). This is regarded by most people as the date of the invention of the concert harp. The instrument had one pedal for each note. It is reported that Erard did not undress for three months before his harp was finished, snatching meals with pencil in hand and sleeping for an hour now and again. This is the type of harp that was bought by Elizabeth Allan Fraser in 1834.