Isobel Mieras, Joint Artistic Adviser of the Festival, looks forward to this year’s harp festival gives us a sneak preview of next year’s plans…

Merchiston for Web pageIn just a few days’ time, the beautiful campus at Merchiston Castle School will be invaded by a group of enthusiastic volunteers who will set up the office which will be at the heart of the Harp Festival, prepare the concert hall and classrooms and put up notices and direction signs. Paperwork will be prepared, sound and lighting experts will move in, harps will be tuned for hire to students and a myriad of other tasks carried out before the Festival opens on Friday evening.

Lovely as it is, and busy as the volunteers will be, the campus remains an empty shell until our performers, teachers —and all of you —arrive and your enthusiasm brings it to life. Of course this final hectic activity is the culmination of a whole year of steady preparation. Already Patsy Seddon and I are looking ahead and planning for EIHF 2017.

harpfest12_nature_18_lieveOur task is to seek out new talents, follow the development of established players, and listen to advice from trusted advisers who are out there. We watch, read and listen and then try to bind to together a coherent programme which is balanced and wide ranging. Because the Harp Festival is run by The Clarsach Society, our Scottish harp, its music and players are central to our plans. We have also resolved to prominently feature one of the Celtic nations each year. Two years ago we started with Scotland, followed by Ireland and this year we focus on Wales. Next year it will be the turn of Breton music – so watch this space. We feel strongly that music should connect across different genres, each with something to teach the other. Hence the Festival offers early music, classical music, Turkish, Italian, jazz and a fusion of styles on concert, workshops and courses. You can dig as deep as you like or just sit back, relax and enjoy it all.

Festival-OrchestraPatsy and I are officially designated “Artistic Advisers” but might be more accurately called “Advice Takers.” We really value and heed suggestions from you who have attended the Festival or plan to do so in future, so keep sending them or, better still, talk to us next week—we’ll be listening!.