A refined sense of rule breaking
“What makes The Harp Consort special? Working with the cream of early music players, a performance aesthetic of lively entertainment – and the dancing of course!” says Caitríona O’Leary.
A blend of scholarship, instinct and a refined sense of rule-breaking is typical of the members of The Harp Consort, who are chosen for their personality just as much as for their musicality. “The personality gets added into the mixture and that’s what makes it special. At the end of the day, if you do something spectacular that wasn’t planned, that’s appreciated,” says Director Andrew Lawrence-King.
The group, inspired by the seventeenth century harp consort of the court of Charles I, is formed around the accompanying instruments of the basso continuo (bass line). Working to a written bass-line, members improvise on a collection of early music instruments including guitars, viola da gamba, fiddles, shawm, bagpipes and percussion. Dance is a signature component of the group, adding a unique dimension of drama and comedy.
“We try to take the audience on a journey – not just to a place, but also to a time,” says Lawrence-King. On this Australian tour the journey is to seventeenth century Ireland and the music of Turlough O’Carolan, considered the most famous Irish harpist, composer and the grandfather of that country’s traditional music.
“How many instruments are we travelling with? It’s a great question. I’ll tell you when we get there!”