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Sunday Add-on to your weekend:
hhs Historical Harp Society Conference at Somerset

From Traditional Middle Eastern to French Rococo and Beyond

Explore the many facets of historical harps at the annual conference of the Historical Harp Society. Join the HHS in their passion to cultivate, foster, sponsor, and develop appreciation of the art, history, literature, and uses of historical harps. Come just for the single-day Conference or add the Conference to your Somerset registration.

About the Presenters   Itinerary   Registration

Conference Presenters

ron cookRon Cook

Ron Cook has been performing medieval and Renaissance music for over 40 years. He has presented on early music and historical harps at many festivals all over the world, including at the Boston Early Music Festival, the Berkeley Early Music Festival, the Amherst Early Music Festival, and the International Congress on Medieval Studies. In addition to his 2013 book, The Early Medieval Harp: A Practical Guide, which covers nearly everything about 12th and 13th century harp, Ron has published numerous articles on historical harps as well as writing about Arabic and Andalusian music. He has led the early music ensemble, Early Interval, for 38 years. In 2016 he was the recipient of the Early Music America Laurette Goldberg Award for lifetime achievement in early music outreach.

sarah deere-jonesSarah Deere-Jones

Sarah Deere-Jones began exploring medieval music in 1997 with her husband Phil, and they have both been involved with research into the medieval history of the harp and bagpipe in England. She is now director of the Cornwall Harp Centre on the spectacular coast of Cornwall. She has numerous books and CDs available through the Centre. Sarah is an ardent researcher on medieval music and has even restored antique harps. She discovered the forgotten harp-lute and the neglected Regency-era repertoire of the 19th century.
Sarah's Somerset bio page & schedule.

joanna mellAnn Heymann

Ann Heymann embarked on a quest to uncover the history of the wire-strung harp and revive the playing of the instrument over 40 years ago. She has become a world-reknown expert on the wire-strung harp and its music. Being a pioneer meant she has a lot of "firsts" to her credit: developing fingernail and damping techniques from the ancient Robert ap Huw harp manuscript, adapting highly ornamented piping variations to the clairseach, interpreting and performing repertoire from several ancient harp manuscripts, creating the clairseach style in the performance of Gaelic poetry. She has many CDs and instructional books to her credit and speaks on the wire-strung harp all over the world.
Ann's Somerset bio page & schedule.

nancy hurrellNancy Hurrell

Nancy Hurrell is a harp historian, author and consultant to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Nancy spent a decade examining and cataloguing Egan harps in museums in the US, Ireland and the UK for her book, The Egan Irish Harps: Tradition, patrons and players published by Four Courts Press, Dublin (2019) and she is considered an expert on John Egan. In addition to her journal articles and entries in the New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments (2014), Nancy has lectured at the Royal Irish Academy (Dublin), Royal Academy of Music Museum (London) and the Metropolitan Museum (NY). She performs and records with several Boston early music ensembles and has published arrangements in her Historical Harp Collection series. She has a master degree in harp performance and studied abroad with the harpist of the BBC Welsh Symphony. Nancy has been an instructor at the Boston Conservatory and currently teaches early harp at Brandeis University. Her groundbreaking CD, The Egan Irish Harp, is the first recording of an Egan Portable Irish Harp, c.1820.
Nancy's Somerset bio page & schedule.

sunita staneslowPaul Knoke

Paul Knoke began his lifelong passion working with historic musical instruments while in high school, spending two years working with the collection of instruments at the Rochester Museum and Science Center as an Independent Studies course. While earning a degree in history at the University of Rochester he interned with the musical instrument collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, cataloguing the museum's files of reference photographs of instruments, and designing and implementing new display techniques for the instrument gallery. All the while though Paul has been a musician and plays piano, organ, and harpsichord, in addition to harp. He has been the principal harpist of the Brighton (NY) Symphony Orchestra since 1990. Mr. Knoke is a charter member and past president of the Historical Harp Society, and has lectured and performed at several of their conferences

Conference Itinerary


History of Early Irish Harp: Joint Presentation
Ann Heymann and Nancy Hurrell interlock their considerable research for a 2-part presentation
9-9:50am:   Gaelic Harps from the Mists of Time (Ann Heymann)

Musical traditions, surviving instruments and iconography help to form a fresh interpretation of the early cláirseach and its development.

10-10:50am: Tradition and Harp Innovation in the 19th century (Nancy Hurrell)

John Egan revival wire-strung harps and notable players from the Dublin and Belfast Society schools coincide with a new iconic gut-strung Irish harp which shaped the future.

11am-12pm: Somerset Folk Harp Festival Sunday Concert

12-12:45pm: LUNCH

12:45-1:45pm:  Why I play the Single-Action Harp (Paul Knoke)

A discourse on the unique repertory, technique, and resources of the early pedal harp, including a masterclass as part of the presentation.

2-3pm: Soft Angelic Whispers (Sarah Deere-Jones) The history of the Medieval harp in England.

3:15-5:15pm: Traditional Middle Eastern Harp (Ron Cook)

This two hour workshop will explore solo performance traditions in the Middle East, particularly in the Middle Ages, and how those performance practices can be adapted to the early single-row harp.

5:30-7pm: Dinner & Membership Meeting for members only

7:30pm: Concert featuring Ron Cook, Sarah Deere-Jones, Ann Heymann, Nancy Hurrell, Paul Knoke, Christa Patton followed by conference-closing reception

This is the tentative itinerary as of 12/31/18. Slight modifications will be made!

Costs & Registration

The Historical Harp Society Conference Pricing: $100. Add it to your registration by checking the box on the form. You can add this to your registration at any time prior to the festival. Although we'd like for you to sign-up in advance, you can register on-site. Download the registration form.

Location & Hotel

The event takes place at the Sheraton Parsippany, 199 Smith Rd., Parsippany NJ. Attendees can take advantage of the Somerset discount hotel rate of $119.99/night. For more details on the location, maps, and transportation options see the Location page.

Questions? Need more information?

Call Kathy DeAngelo at 856-795-7637 or email Jennifer Sayre, director of the Historical Harp Society conference

If you find a mistake in any of these pages please let me know!

Updated 12/31/18
Workshop descriptions and schedules are subject to change. Refresh your browser to make sure you have the latest version of this page.