Savourna Stevenson calls for more harp composers

In a visit to the City of Edinburgh Music School yesterday, where she was leading a composition workshop for the pupils, Savourna Stevenson urged the class to consider writing tunes for clàrsach.

As one of Scotland’s leading harpists, and composers, Savourna said that the popularity of Scotland’s oldest traditional instrument was growing exponentially, thanks in part to the great work done at music schools like City of Edinburgh. But whilst there are more and more people taking it up, there are not enough tunes specially composed for this engaging and versatile instrument.

In a packed 90 minutes Savourna talked about her own journey to harp playing and composing, and shared the very particular concerns that must be borne in mind when writing tunes to be played on the clàrsach and the pedal or concert harp.

Savourna also heard from the pupils. A very young harpist expertly played one of the composer’s tunes, a duo of clàrsach and saxophone emulated her duo with saxophonist Steve Kettley, and she enjoyed a performance from Ethan Gillespie, who played his piece composed in memory of Martyn Bennett.

The afternoon was completed by a twilight concert for pupils and parents, where Savourna offered a varied set that demonstrated influences from Africa, South America and, of course, Scotland.

Savourna Stevenson and Steve Kettley appear at Edinburgh Tradfest on Thursday 2 May. Get your tickets here>>

Jane-Ann Purdy