Seven young harpists from the Manx harp ensemble Claasagh worked with some of the world’s best Irish harpers and played in a mass ensemble as part of a three-day trip to Tionól Harp and Pipes 2023.
The annual gathering, hosted by Music Generation Laois, took place in Port Laois.
Culture Vannin harp teacher Rachel Hair, who accompanied the teenagers, said: ‘I’m so proud of what Claasagh have achieved this weekend.
‘From learning new music and performing it 24 hours later and showcasing beautifully their own music in front of over 175 musicians at the livestream concert, they represented the Isle of Man wonderfully.
‘I am thrilled that they were able to experience the power and emotion that playing music together in such a large ensemble can have and I’m very grateful to both Culture Vannin and the Isle of Man Arts Council for giving them the chance to experience something that they would not be able to do at home.’
The musicians, aged 13 to 16, took part in workshops and enjoyed social events alongside their fellow 120 residential students including a talent show and a ceili, where Manx students Sophia Shimmin and Isla Mealin taught everyone the Manx dance Flitter Dance.
Saturday night saw a mass ensemble of 185 musicians that included more than 120 harpists perform together as part a livestream concert.
As part of the concert, Claasagh performed a selection of Manx music that included traditional tunes and Katie Lawrence’s tune Dooraght, which featured Isla’s Manx dancing.
The highlight of the concert saw the mass ensemble perform the world premiere of The Tionól Suite by Ernestine Healy, a piece specially written for the 10 year anniversary of Music Generation Laois.
Claasagh member and Ramsey Grammar School student Sophia Shimmin, aged 14, said: ‘Tionól 2023 was an incredible experience and gave me so many lifelong memories.
‘Throughout the weekend I made lots of new friends and met the most incredible musicians.
‘It was an opportunity of a lifetime to play with so many talented people who have really inspired me as a harpist.’
Rachel thanked Rosa Flannery and Siobhan Buckley of Music Generation Laois for helping organise the trip and lending the ensemble harps to use. The livestream concert can be watched for free via the Music Generation Laois Facebook page.