William Jackson and Gráinne Hambly
Harpist William Jackson (left) hosts a music therapy workshop on Saturday, before the concert with Gráinne Hambly.

Celtic harpists at Katharine Cornell

Posted September 27, 2007

Gráinne Hambly and William Jackson, two of the leading harpers of Ireland and Scotland, will be performing at the Katharine Cornell Theater (KCT) on Saturday, Sept. 29, at 8 pm. The concert is part of the KCT Concerts Traditional Irish Music series.

Two years ago, Hambly and Jackson combined talents and named themselves "The Masters of the Celtic Harp." Since then, they have received excellent reviews, especially in the U.S. In the concert this Saturday, the two will also play the concertina, tinwhistle, and bouzouki.

While she calls Galway, Ireland, home, Ms. Hambly began touring in the U.S. eight years ago. She has managed to gain a growing fan base by evolving the harp's classic sounds into dance music. Not only do devoted harp enthusiasts enjoy her, but also Irish and traditional music fans as well.

In her home country, she is very well known. In 1994, she won the senior All-Ireland titles on harp and concertina. Following that, she won the Keadue and Granard harp competition. She is currently involved with Harpers' Escape, a retreat based in New Jersey, as an instructor.

Growing up in Ireland's Mayo County, Hambly graduated from Queen's University Belfast with a degree in music. Most recently, she released her third CD last November, titled "The Thorn Tree." Her first two CD's, "Between the Showers" and "Golden Lights Green Shadows" are favorites among Irish harp fans.

The other half of the tour is William Jackson of Glasgow, Scotland. A Scottish traditional music performer for nearly 30 years, Jackson has gained international reputation as a composer in addition to his stature as one of the leading harpers and multi-instrumentalists in Scotland.

He began performing in a band in 1976 when he helped found Ossian, which was one of Scotland's most popular traditional bands. He played the harp, piano, tinwhistle, and mandola in addition to composing. His commissioned works include "The Wellpark Suite," "St. Mungo," "Inchcolm," and "Duan Albanach," which was used at the 2002 opening of the Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow. His pieces are also heard on The History Channel, the BBC, Scottish television, and on the big screen in "A Shot at Glory" (2000).

Perhaps he is most known in his country for his composition "Land of Light," which was performed at Edinburgh Castle in 2000, celebrating the 100th birthday of H.M. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother of Scotland.

Jackson's most recent interest is music therapy, in which he specializes in working with children with cerebral palsy and autism. Currently, he heads a therapy program at Mission Children's Hospital in Asheville, N.C. In addition to his performance, he will offer a workshop: "Small Harp in Music Therapy" on the Saturday afternoon.

Small harp music therapy workshop, Saturday, Sept. 29, 4 pm, $25.

Concert, 8 pm, at Katharine Cornell Theatre, Spring St., Vineyard Haven. Tickets $15 in advance (Alley's General Store, Island Entertainment, and Aboveground Music) or $20 at the door; free for children 12 and under. For more information, call 508-693-6996 or visit The KCT concert CD is available on iTunes and

Information provided by KCT Concerts, a non-profit group dedicated to traditional music.