Artist Biographies

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Ann Heymann

According to Comunn na Clarsaich (The Scottish Harp Society) “Ann Heymann is the pioneer who has returned the Gaelic harp to a living tradition.” From the first time she picked up a Gaelic harp to sound a metal string with her fingernail in 1974, Ann’s dream has been to put the instrument “back on the map” and clearly she has succeeded.

As a girl, Ann studied keyboard and pipe organ with Diana Lee Metzger. After becoming a professional equestrienne, she played tin whistle for several years in a St. Paul ceili band led by Martin McHugh from Co. Roscommon. During this time she learned of the famous Irish harp tradition that had disappeared and, curious about why that should be and what it might have sounded like, Ann began an in-depth investigation.

There were no teachers or performers to approach at that time so Ann had to teach herself. Using scarce published sources, rare preserved manuscript fragments of the old  tradition, and familiarity with the contemporary tradition through her ceili band and master singers Nora Grealish and Joe Heaney, Ann recreated fingernail and damping techniques to shape the sound of her instrument’s resonant metal strings and developed a signature performance style. Today Ann’s idiomatic approach is emulated by harpers worldwide.

Selected Achievements

  • authored the first cláirseach method and tutor (Secrets of the Gaelic Harp)
  • created Coupled Hands techniqe and a method to teach it (Coupled Hands For Harpers)
  • interpreted medieval Welsh harp techniques such as plethiad y wanhynen (bee’s plait), tafliad y bys (finger throw), crafiad dwbl (double scrape) and tagiad y fawd (thumb-choke)
  • developed a plausible role for the telyn rawn in the performance of medieval Welsh poetry
  • developed a plausible cláirseach role in the performance of Gaelic bardic poetry
  • researched, developed and designed the first modern telyn rawn
  • first to recognize, research and prove historic viability of monofilament gold music strings

Selected Performances

The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago IL USA (2015)
St. Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick, Ireland (2014)
Sydney Town Hall—World Harp Congress featured soloist, Sydney, Australia (2014)
Rochester Civic Theatre, Rochester MN USA (2014)
Showspielhaus, Hofheim, Germany (2014)
Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington DC, USA (2013)
Galway Early Music Festival, Ireland (2013)
Theatre 80 St. Marks, NYC, USA (2013)
University of Edinburgh, Scotland (2012)
National University of Ireland/Galway, Ireland (2012)
Wighton Centre, Dundee, Scotland (2012)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston MA, USA (2011)
St. Audoen’s Church, Dublin, Ireland (2011)
Dinan Harp Festival, Brittany, France (2010)
Schloss Wernsdorf with Capella Antiqua Bambergensis, Germany (2008)
Brecon Cathedral, Brecon, Wales (2008)
Tredustan Court, Wales (2008)
Tewksbury Abbey, England (2008)

Selected Honors, Awards, Fellowships

2014 MN State Arts Bd Arts Learning Grant
2014 MN State Arts Bd Folk and Traditional Arts Grant
2013 Moore Institute Fellowship, National University of Ireland/Galway
2010 Legacy Fund Grant, Minnesota Irish Fair
2010 Irish Music & Dance Association Person of the Year
2008 Lifetime Distinguished Judge, Scottish Harp Society of America

Selected Recordings

Cruit go nÓr • Harp of Gold (2006) Héman Dubh (1997)
Queen of Harps (1995) The Harper’s Land (1983)
Ann’s Harp (1981) Let Erin Remember (1979)

Selected Bibliography

“Three Iconic Gaelic Harp Pieces” in Harp Studies, Sandra Joyce and Helen Lawlor, eds. (2016)
Coupled Hands for Harpers (2001) A Gaelic Harper’s First Tunes (1998)
Secrets of the Gaelic Harp (1989) Legacy of 1792 Belfast Harp Fest (1992)


Charlie Heymann

Charlie Heymann.jpg

Charlie Heymann is a singer and multi-instrumentalist with over forty years of experience in traditional Irish and Scottish music. He is well respected, not only for tasteful accompaniment on a variety of stringed instruments, but also for his natural ability to interpret songs in English, Gaelic, Latin and Welsh.

Charlie began singing “on his mother’s knee” and, like his grandfather, is versatile on numerous folk and traditional instruments such as button accordion, which he taught himself with guidance from Terry ‘Cuz’ Teahan from Castleisland, Co. Kerry in Chicago IL; Martin McHugh from Castlerea, Co. Roscommon in St. Paul MN; Pat ‘Packie’ Flanagan from Tourmakeady, Co. Mayo in Denver CO; and Paddy O’Brien from Castlebarnagh, Co. Offaly in St. Paul MN.

In 2012 Charlie & wife Ann were awarded a Moore Institute Fellowship to study the role of the harp in the performance of medieval Gaelic poetry at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

Charlie has taught at The Center for Irish Music since January 2010 and six years at the Ohio Scottish Arts School in Oberlin, OH.

Elizabeth MacDonald

Elizabeth Beautiful

Elizabeth MacDonald lives to dance – and to share that passion with others. Originally trained as a Highland dancer and accredited teacher, she discovered traditional Irish dance in the late 80s, and has been building her knowledge and skills ever since, studying with dance masters in both Ireland and the US. Elizabeth is also credited with introducing Irish sean-nosstep dance to Nova Scotia

Elizabeth specializes in two older forms of Irish dance that, until recent years, were on the verge of extinction: the Irish set (or square) dances and sean-nos step from the Gaeltacht region of Connemara. She’s taught for many years in Halifax and for three years, led the set dance group in Brussels, Belgium. She’s led workshops and ceilithe at festivals across Eastern Canada, northern France and Belgium, and most recently taught at the J.P. Collins Festival, Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival and the Nova Scotia Choir Federation’s Youth Choir Camp. Next May, Elizabeth will return to Belgium to teach at a set dance weekend in Leuven. 

Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann (CCE) recognized Elizabeth’s contribution to Irish traditional dance by inducting her into the Canadian Eastern Region Music Hall of Fame.

Kevin Roach & the Triangle Session Band

 

Cris Sonntag

Cris' harp festival painting