CD A0137: Alchemy of a Rose

Alchemy of a Rose by Cynthia Cathcart

CD coverCynthia Cathcart recaptures the original sound of the music of Scotland and Ireland in this collection of melodies played on the wire strung harp. The uniquely bell-like resonance of brass, silver and gold strings carries the listener to a time when legends lived and magic was a part of every day.

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Track Listing & Audio Samples

1 Miss Proud's Reel The Alexander McGlashan Collection (circa 1778)
2 Sir John Fenwick is the Flower of Them All The Northumbrian Pipers
3 Seaforth Highlanders (Hurichum Harichim) The Gesto Collection of Highland Music compiled by Keith Norman Macdonald (1895)
Lord Seaforth's Strathspey ("very old") The Skye Collection compiled by Keith Norman Macdonald (1887)
Lord MacDonald's Reel
Kerr's Collection of Merry Melodies (circa 1870)

4 Mist Covered Mountains as collected from Stuart Slaven Ogilvie (1905-1982) [that's Cynthia's grandfather]
5 I Love My Jean by Robert Burns (1759-1796)
6 They Stole My Wife Last Night (Ghoid iad mo bhean uam an réir) A Collection of Highland Vocal Airs compiled by Patrick McDonald (1784)
Pease Strae The Athole Collection of the Dance Music of Scotland, compiled by James Stewart Robertson (circa 1883)
The Prince's Welcome into Inverness The Alexander McGlashan Collection
7 An Elegy on Rob Roy Mcgregor (Marbhrann air Rob Ruadh Mac Ghriogair) The Angus Fraser Collection of Scottish Gaelic Airs (collected before 1874; published 1996)
8 The Chanter's Tune as collected by Edward Bunting (1773-1843) from E. Shannon, Esq. 1839
9 Blair Athole Kerr's Collection of Merry Melodies
10 Glenlivet Kerr's Collection of Merry Melodies
11 A Lament for Her Husband and Child (Cumh' airson a fir 's a leinibh le Silis Nic Raonaill) by Julia McDonnell from the Angus Fraser Collection
12 Lachlann Dubh (Lachlan with the Jet Black Hair) The Simon Fraser Collection (1815)
13 Ferintosh (An Tòiseachd) The Simon Fraser Collection
The Bedding of the Bride (Bean na bàinnse)
The Simon Fraser Collection
Off She Goes The Skye Collection

14 The Top of Ben Lomond Traditional
15 New Claret (Supposed Norwegian Air) The Gesto Collection
16 Doctor Ross's 50th Welcome to the Argyllshire Gathering by Pipe Major Donald MacLeod, MBE
17 Brian Boru Traditional
18 Edward Corcoran Turlough O'Carolan (1670-1738)
Mrs. Crawford of Donside by John Riddell, the Skye Collection
19 The Banks o' Clyde Kerr's Collection
Total running time 64:47
  Nearly all of the tunes in the book From My Music Stand are on the recording Alchemy of a Rose. Most are in the same arrangements as in the book.


CD Notes & Credits

Sleeve Notes

The CD booklet contatins further information about the music, the instruments and performers which is not currently reproduced on this web page.


The Clarsach, or Wire Strung Harp --Cynthia Cathcart
Drums, Udu, Marimba and Percussion --John Emrich
The Great Highland Bagpipes --Mike Scott
Didjuridu --Tim Whittemore
Bodhrans, Flutes and Whistles --Eric Cathcart
Children's Laughter --Alex and Brian Cathcart

Peal Bells Courtesy of the Washington National Cathedral, rung by the Washington Ringing Society

In Brian Boru, the sound of the ancient Pictish war horn, the Carnyx, was emulated on the didjuridu.

The War Drum used in Brian Boru saw service in the American Revolutionary War.

Cynthia plays harps by Ardival Harps of Strathpeffer, Scotland. Three Ardival Harps are represented on this recording: The Kilcoy (19 brass strings), The Kinnellan (30 brass and gold strings), and The Rose (25 brass and 1 silver string).

Precious metal strings by Ben Zastrow.

Photography by Branden Andrusic.

© 2002 by Cynthia Cathcart

manufactured and printed in the U.S.A. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized reproduction or duplication is prohibited by law.

Album Information

Instruments: Wire Strung Harp / accompanied harp
Genre: Traditional
Format: CD
Our Ref: A0137
MCPS: HCM51886
Label: Highland Circle Publishing
Year: 2002
Origin: USA

Artist Information and Contact Details

Photograph of Cynthia CathcartCynthia Cathcart is one of the world's experts on the Clarsach. Performing and teaching for various audiences, she is a leader in the new wave of interest in the wire-strung harp. She represents Ardival harps of Strathpeffer, Scotland and is their North American Artist in Residence. Professional harper, two time U.S. National Scottish Harp Master Champion, 2002 Oberlin Ohio master Harp Champion, 1998 North American Senior Amateur Scottish Harp Champion, three time winner of the Clan Lamont Trophy and holder of the Jan Pennington-Grey Award, Cynthia Cathcart is a leading authority on the ancient Wire Strung Harp, or Clarsach, of Ireland and the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music in Piano Performance from Hood College, where she studied under the world-renowned pianist Noel Lester.

Based near Washington, DC, Cynthia began her harp career only a few short years ago, and quite by accident, when she inherited a wire-strung harp. After dusting off years of neglect that had gathered on the harp, she began to teach herself how to play. Or, more to the truth, the harp began to teach Cynthia with that mystical voice an instrument employs when it finds a musician destined to play it. The fit was natural, as were Cynthia's abilities to research and rediscover the repertoire and the authentic technique of playing the wire strung harp with the fingernails. Her rapid climb to being counted among the foremost players of the Clarsach is but an extension on her firm foundation as a classically trained pianist and organist.

A reviewer from a recent concert wrote, "When Cynthia began her portion of the program I had the impression of fine china. Very satisfying sound! I really liked the way her pieces flowed from one to the other, and the stories she told, partly in words, partly with her instruments."


Contact Details Potomac Talent, LLC
P.O. Box 3164
Silver Spring,
MD 20901
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Artist Web Site

Recordings and Sheet Music by Cynthia Cathcart

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