The Clarsach Society - Bristol and West of England Branch

The Clarsach Society

The Clarsach (harp) is Scotland's oldest instrument, having been played throughout the land from very earliest times. Two old clarsachs, from the 15th and 16th centuries, survive, and may be seen in the National Museum. The modern instrument, though larger and with gut rather than wire strings, is based on their design.

For various historical reasons, harping almost died out by the end of the 18th century, and the music, never written down, was lost. Good new instruments are now being made and The Clarsach Society (Comunn na Clarsaich) has encouraged a great revival of interest in the instrument, especially amongst young players, who enjoy its adaptability to solo work, accompaniment or ensemble playing. The Clarsach Society exists to promote the instrument and to help players. The constitution states that the objects of the Society shall be to advance the education of the public in the music and the playing of the clarsach. It has 11 local branches throughout the UK and a special interest group for wire strung harp enthusiasts. The Administrator of the Society, organises the Harp Hire scheme and the sale of the Society’s Music Folios.

The Clarsach Society organises the Edinburgh International Harp Festival each spring.

For more on the history of the clarsach, please visit the societies web site.

Bristol and West of England Branch of the Clarsach Society

Branch report from the 2014-2015 Clarscah Society Annual Report

2014-15 turned out to be a year of farewells and of welcomes. I am sad to say that two longstanding members of our branch sadly passed away during the course of the year: Daisy (Marguerite) Wood left us on 7th December, 2014. She would have been 100 years old on the 21st. Daisy and her late husband John were very regular attendees at the Bristol and West Branch Ceilidhs in the 80s and 90s, when John used to sing songs in Scots Gaelic with a powerful voice, accompanied by Daisy on the harp. Although her mobility was impaired towards the end of her life, she was very alert and always young at heart.

Not long afterwards, on 3rd January, 2015, Marianne Lengemann died peacefully at Cheltenham hospital, after suffering a stroke. Marianne was another supportive member of the branch who, even when she no longer played herself, loved to hear others play and generously hosted ceilidh events for us at Box Village Hall. The loss of Daisy and Marianne has been felt keenly by those of our members who knew them.

On a happier note, we have been very grateful to our new treasurer, Pete Ovenden, for taking on the role with such efficiency and expertise. Our branch could not function without its volunteer officers, so we are very glad to have Pete on board!

We have enjoyed several events in our region, over the course of the year, beginning with our AGM in Bristol, at which we enjoyed learning a great variety of tunes, taught by Julia Hammersley. In January we welcomed the talented young harpist Elinor Evans to teach at our annual Burns Harp day, held near Cardiff. Elinor taught some beautiful Burns tunes, arranged with several parts, to suit all abilities, and we enjoyed a fine Burns meal. In April, we had a rare treat when Bill Taylor came to Worcestershire to teach a workshop on historical tunes, based on his research of Scottish manuscripts of the 16th to 19th centuries. And so we end the year, looking back to sad and happy memories, as well as forwards to more harping in 2015-16.

Catherine Dack,

The branch has a face book page:

Current contact details for all branches are listed on the main Clarsach Society web site

Central Contact Details The Clarsach Society - Comunn na Clàrsaich
Studio G43,
Out of the Blue Drill Hall,
36 Dalmeny Street,
Telephone +44 131 554 0212
Web site

Clarsach Society Folios

Sheet Music - from the Bristol and West of England Branch - click covers for details
Click for details        
Golden Jubilee

Sheet Music - from central office - click covers for details
Folio 18
Folio 33
Mixed Ability
Folio 39
Folio 40
Folio 41
Click for details Click for details Click for details Click for details Click for details
Jean Campbell
Memorial Folio
Margaret Daunt
Memorial Folio
Lullabies, Airs &
Dances Vol 1
Lullabies, Airs &
Dances Vol 2

Folio 42
Folio 43
Folio 44
Folio 45
Folio 46
Mixed Ability
Click for details Click for details Click for details Click for details Click for details
A Tapestry of
Scottish Tunes V1
A Tapestry of
Scottish Tunes V2
A Tapestry of
Scottish Tunes V3
Flying Fingers Esme's Adventure