Today's music centers on the Celtic harp: an instrument known in folklore for its magical ability to facilitate the passage across borders: from cottage to castle, from the human world to Faerie, from illness to health, from despair to delight. For more on the legends and lore of the harp, please visit this previous post.
Above, Breton harpist Cécile Corbel performs "Entendez Vous" at l'Abbaye de Nottonville (2014). Corbel comes from Pont-Croix, Finistère (Brittany), and has released five lovely albums to date.
Below, a rare clip of the great Breton harpist Alan Stivell, a leading figure in the Celtic music revival of the 20th century, performing "Suite Irlandaise" and "The King of the Faeries" on harp and pennywhistle way back in 1972. Stivell was born in Auvergne, raised in Gourin, Morbihan (Brittany), and released his first Celtic harp album in 1964. He's still going strong, and a more recent concert performance can be viewed here.
Below: "The Stolen Child," with lyrics from the classic faery poem by W.B Yeats, performed by Canadian harpist, songwriter, and Celtic music scholar Loreena McKennnit. The song comes from her first album, Elementals (1985), and is performed here in concert in Andalusia, Spain in 2007. (For another musical version of Yeat's poem, try "The Stolen Child" by The Waterboys.)
Last, two lovely songs from a new generation of Celtic harpists:
First, "I Knew A Man" by the young Scottish singer/songwriter Josie Duncan. She hails from Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, and is now based in Glasgow. If Joni Mitchell had played the harp, she might have sounded something like this...
Second, "Young Sir" by the Scottish duo Twelfth Day: Catriona Price (fiddle) and Esther Swift (harp), from Orkney and the Scottish Borders. The song is from their wonderful 2014 album The Devil Makes Three. This utterly charming video, filmed in Catriona's flat, was directed by Esther's brother Tom Swift, art directed by Anna Nicholson, and features paper artist Moira Morrison.