A Chara, The inspiration to create a CD of the beautiful and haunting traditional music of Ancient Ireland actually came to me in the loveliest of spots in County Antrim, Ireland. On windswept mossy cliffs that dropped a thousand feet into the pristine blue and wild Irish Sea, I leaned against a faery tree in a timeless faery ring, and I could see myself dancing a two-hand reel to music sung by the very rocks themselves. My heart knew it had been longing to play the music of my ancestors. In my youth, I was a classical musician studying voice and piano with the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. I even sang with the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra Festival Choir. But after a brief trip to Ireland in 1999 to seek out my 'roots,' I fell in love with the Irish lever harp and the haunting strains of ancient Irish music. I returned to Ireland in the summer of 2000 traveling all over Ireland playing and studying. I had the chance to study Celtic harp with Janet Harbison, director of the Belfast Harp Orchestra, and Gráinne Hambly, principle harpist. I also was able to study Sean Nós (ancient) singing and modal harp styles from Gráinne Yeats at the Termonfeckin Harp Workshop in County Louth, Ireland. In Gleann Cholm Cille, County Dhun na nGall, I made my first attempts at learning the Irish language. Traveling with my two children, nanny, 10 suitcases, harp, equipment, and a 15 passenger van, we made quite a spectacle of ourselves! I think the Irish countryside will never be the same again! But in the midst of the hubbub, and all the green, and the sheep and cottages, and the magnificent landscape: I found my Irish Soul... and the spirit-heritage of my ancestors! Returning home to California, I set about learning the ancient language of the Celts from The House of Ireland instructors Tomás Page and Shanti Hofshi in San Diego. Gradually, I built my repertoire of ancient songs in both Irish and English. Mostly I chose songs that made me cry from the pure beauty of the music. When I am playing, I travel to a different land ... a noble land of mist-shrouded beauty. I'm enveloped by the mellow strains of the harp and the songs that speak of myth and magic in the emerald hills of Ireland. I'm joined on many of the songs by Tim Brittain on the violin, and Bill Lee on the mandolin. I produced the CD myself. Tim Brittain, who plays with The Celtic Ensemble, is the recording engineer. The Graphic designer is Pam Boldizar. Bill van den Akker took the portrait of me with my harp on the back of the CD. The remainder of the pictures are from the faery glen in County Antrim that was my inspiration for the CD. Gazing at the stunning beauty of the glens, I fell back on a faery tree in awe, my daughter quickly took the cover photo. Although we eventually had to leave, my heart and soul will forever reside in that very special land. Slan go Foill, Kathleen Hartshorne.
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