The Celtic harp is a small triangular instrument so ingrained in Irish history that its image appears on Ireland’s coins and coat of arms.
“It’s a symbol of the Irish culture,” explains Patrick Ball, a Celtic harpist from northern California who performs throughout the U.S. and Canada. “The Irish have always delighted in storytelling, and amidst the storytelling, there’s music. First among Irish instruments, and the most honored, was the legendary Celtic harp. With its crystalline, bell-like voice and lavish resonance, it would soothe its listeners and lead them deeper into the realms of the imagination.”
Along with fellow harpists Lisa Lynne and Aryeh Frankfurter, Ball comes to town to present “Legends of the Celtic Harp” on February 18 at Unity Santa Fe. Performing ancient and contemporary piececs, the trio takes the audience on a journey into the history and legends of this important Irish instrument through both music and storytelling.
When not performing together, Ball, Lynne and Frankfurter have active solo careers.
A captivating storyteller who presents solo theatrical productions, Ball has recorded nine instrumental and four spoken word albums that have sold more than a half million copies internationally. Lynne, who also plays the mandolin and its Irish cousin, the bouzouki, is a frequent guest at festivals throughout the country and a recording artist on the Windham Hill/Sony music label. A classically-trained violinist who started his career playing progressive rock, Frankfurter is not only accomplished on the Celtic harp but also the Swedish nyckelharpa (keyed fiddle) and cittern (stringed instrument from the Renaissance).
While Lynne and Frankfurter play Celtic harps with nylon strings, Ball prefers to use the kind of wire strung harp that was played in Ireland 1,000 years ago. “Fingertips aren’t able to pluck these rigid metal strings,” he adds. “Only fingernails work.”