Colmcille 01 Title Page

Hello fellow harpers, harpists and friends!

Colmcille - a Columban Suite
See the full production on my YouTube channel here

Please show your appreciation on Janet's GoFundme page for this wonderful production


The Virtual first performance originally performed on YouTube on
Tuesday 7th December 2021 at 6pm GMT - now available to view on YouTube.

Colmcille – a Columban Suite 

Of plainsong, poetry and contemporary harp music from 

Janet Harbison and the Virtual Irish Harp Orchestra 

With the Mayo County Choir and St.Killian’s Choir of Kells with soloists: Soprano Mairead Healy, and narrators George Holmes, Antaine Ó Donnaile and Dónall Mac Giolla Chóill.


You will recognise some pieces from the work: the harp orchestra version of ‘Suantraí’, ‘Journey into Exile’, and you will love ‘Cantata Domino’ (with Mairead doing the extraordinary solo), and ‘Laudate Dominum’ which is excellent fun for harps and contains the immortal line: “Praise the Lord with lute and harp”. 

manuscript colmcille smAnd it is this very psalm, the greatest and last of the 150, that is illuminated in the course of the video by the amazing calligrapher, Jane Sullivan. In the way of the early monastic bible copyists, Jane takes the illumination from start to finish – in tribute to St Colmcille and his inspiration of the Book of Kells, Ireland’s most famous art treasure - and I’m proud to keep the original copy that I will frame and cherish for ever.


A return to the spirit of the early Celtic church, it’s art and music

Dungiven Priory Colmcille soloistsR

Performing this work again (as the original performance was in 1997 with the Belfast Harp Orchestra), has represented a return to the spirit of the early Celtic church, it’s art and music – and also to the experience of the Belfast Harp Orchestra in 1997. Thanks to Michael Hambly (father of Gráinne), the concert we performed in Mayo Abbey in 1997 was recorded on video – which features prominently in our 2021 production where the harpers of the old Belfast Harp Orchestra are joined by the new ensemble of the ‘Virtual Irish Harp Orchestra’. By ‘going virtual’, we have been able to bring harp players from all over the world on board. Just look at the countries they all come from in the credits of the video!

It is also wonderful to be working with Mairead and Antaine again – 25 years on from our first collaboration. We recently spent two days together filming their parts at Downhill strand and in Dungiven Priory – both locations very particular to the history of Colmcille. So, our 2021 performance will have all the freshness of the ‘now’ – with occasional references back to the ‘then’! This video is also a special tribute to our narrator George Holmes who passed away in 2010 RIP.




Origially performed on Tuesday 7th December 2021 at 6pm GMT,
now available on YouTube

Colmcille – a Columban Suite

for harps and voices 

colmcille virtual CD 2021sm

or at whatever time suits you afterwards as the video will be available free until Christmas when it will continue to be available from the website in download and in DVD formats. You will be invited to make a donation  - and I will very much appreciate your support, however big or small, to help cover the considerable costs with making this production possible. It was a labour of love for me, and of remembrance – and a celebration of all that is amazing and masterful, spiritual and beautiful in our heritage.

Ave Sancte Colmcille

Best wishes to everyone,