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Solo Concert Programmes

“Contemporary, but with a unique depth of understanding of tradition, Janet Harbison embodies Irish harping at its most appealing, original and vibrant.”  
Sean Rafferty, BBC
“Our national treasure”  Former Irish President Mary McAleese
 “Queen of the Irish Harp”  The American Folk Harp Journal

Concert programmes with Janet Harbison are always engaging, informative and entertaining and her easy style in relating to her audiences underwrites her exceptional skill, knowledge and performing acumen.  Whether to an academic audience or a community gathering - or indeed to the large scale audiences she is well accustomed to with the Irish Harp Orchestra, she is equally at home playing her own works or delivering a programme of historic music.  

Janet offers a range of solo concert programmes that are easily adapted to different types of audience: from a traditional music gathering to a classical music concert; from an 'Arts Festival' audience to a 'Spiritual' community.

Some favorite items in Janets Concert Programmes are:

Molly St George
A piece from the 17th century by the harper Thomas Connellan dedicated to the daughter of Colonel St.George of Connaught.

Lament for Limerick
After the wars of the Williamites and Jacobites in Ireland 1689, the remaining Irish supporters of the defeated King James were transported into exile.  This harper’s lament composed by Miles O Reilly in 1690 expresses the devastation of the harpers whose patrons were executed or exiled after the battle.

A concert of music by Turlough O’Carolan (1670-1738)
O’Carolan began to play the harp at age 18 after he became blind by small pox.  Three years later, he set out on his travels as a minstrel harper ensuring his welcome in Ireland’s “big” houses by composing flattering songs with beautiful melodies for his patrons.  These are known as ‘Planxties’.  And, there are many other works by Carolan - for instance his beautiful 'Carolan's Lament for Charles McCabe' or the playful 'O'Rourke's Feast'.

Janet also performes a rice variety of Irish songs:
An Chuilfhionn
One of Ireland's oldest love-songs where a girl pines for the blond-haired boy - but Janet's version spans 4 centuries in interpretation.  From it's first transposition from the performance of Denis Hempson (born 1695), through to Arthur O'Neill's version with variations dicated to Bunting in the 1790s, to the modern romantic version Janet learned early in her career (1970s)....  
Mná na hÉireann – Women of Ireland
The ancient text of a poem in praise of Irish women was set to music by Sean O Riada in the 1960s.  You may recognise the melody as it has been used for a number of pop songs in recent times!
The Spinning Wheel
This late 19th century song achieved high popularity in the middle of this century and tells the story of a young girl trying to escape her grandmother’s notice so she may go romancing in the grove with her lover…
Janet lived and worked in Northern Ireland for 18 years from 1984 to 2002 and her love for the music and history of the province is well known.  She may include some of the following pieces:  
The Boyne Water – Rosc Catha na Mumhain
Folk culture is primarily oral, and every good tune will find its way into the vernacular of all traditions.  This is intriguing when it comes to Northern Ireland.  Janet performs some of the most emotive music at the centre of the conflict

The Londonderry Air
Janet's arrangement of this air to the legendary song of 'Danny Boy' for Harp Ensemble is renowned - but she is also happy to play the much loved piece as a solo; with or without variations - and she is always happy to accompany a singer or other musician performing it.
In recent years, Janet's own music has achieved international renown.

Walk in Belfast
Inspired by a Sunday morning walk on ‘Cave Hill’ overlooking Belfast city bathed in the early morning sun – extraordinarily beautiful in its distress.

Journey into Exile & Suantrai (pronounced Soon-three) – Lullaby for Daniel
From her oratorio ‘Colmcille’, two instrumental solos.  The first representing the turmoil of life and its challenges – and the second, the peace at the journey’s end.

Bright New Morning
Triumph and elation is the mood in this piece which was composed in celebration of Peace in Northern Ireland in 1995.  Although born in Dublin, Janet lived in Belfast for 18 years and established the ‘Belfast Harp Orchestra’ there bringing young musicians from both sides of the conflict together in celebration of their cultural diversity.  This tune became the siren tune of the BHO for many years.

Song for Strangford
Dedicated to Janet's most revered academic director - for Professor Ronnie Buchanan of the Institute of Irish Studies at Queen's University, Belfast. For Ronnie's 80th birthday in 2013, many of his former Research Fellows hosted a colloquium honoring his life and work - and this is Janet's tribute.  Ronnie was a Geographer - who sees a great deal more in landscape than most people - 'Life is more than it seems' - so, this tune never sounds a chord directly!  And also reflected is Ronnie's love of Strangford Lough where nowadays, he sits and watches the tide ebb and flow and waits for the geese to fly in in Spring.