Date: Saturday 3rd February 2024.
Location: Newport National School.
Gráinne is from County Mayo, Ireland is an internationally recognised 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 Masters Degree in Musicology, awarded by Queen’s University (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 20 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 also toured and recorded with various artists, including the Belfast Harp Orchestra, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Eireann and Irish Christmas In America.
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 instrument. She specialises in teaching Irish traditional music ‘by ear’ and offers private lessons and intensive tuition options at her home, as well as teaching at various annual summer schools and harp festivals including Scoil Éigse. She is also co-director of Music Generation Mayo Harp Ensemble, a group of 30 young harpers aged 10-18 years.
Gráinne has featured on a number of recordings both as guest artist and accompanist. She has released three critically acclaimed solo CDs, and two books of arrangements. Her most recent collaboration is with Scottish harper William Jackson, with whom she frequently tours. They have released a recording Music from Ireland and Scotland (2009) and published some arrangements for harp ensemble.
Harper Laoise Kelly is from Westport and now lives on Achill Island. She learned her music at home and from great local heroes like John Hoban, Pat Friel, Liam Grealis and Jennie Kilroy. In 2020 she was awarded TG4 Gradam Ceoil Musician of the Year. She has recorded three solo albums and two duo albums with fiddle player Michelle O’Brien and uilleann piper Tiarnán Ó Duinnchinn. Laoise was a founding member of trad groups ‘Bumblebees’, and ‘Fiddletree’, from America, Cape Breton and Scotland who play eight instruments made from the same tree. She collaborates regularly with Tiarnán Ó Duinnchinn, fiddler Tola Custy, box players Breanndán Begley and Josephine Marsh, fiddler Tara Breen and singer Nell Ní Chróinín. Her harp has brought her all over the world performing and teaching.
“Her right hand fires out tunes with a fluidity, creativity and clarity that has revolutionised the harp as a solo instrument; her left hand is the source of a new voice in the world of accompaniment and groove, rooted in her engagement with the contemporary world of guitar, bouzouki, bodhrán and keyboard while being distinct in its own right. Laoise has made it OK for a harp to sit in the centre of the session and be the heart of the trad band headlining the festival.” – Niall Keegan, Irish World Academy, UL.