Janet Harbison’s ‘Body of work’ is multifaceted and relevant to her life’s mission to bring the harp into focus and re-establish its glory at home and abroad. This is being achieved through her work as:
who has produced more than 100 original works and a multitude of arrangements which she has brought orally and scripted (unpublished and published) to harpists and harpers throughout Ireland and the wider harping world over the past five decades…
who started out like many others in the Irish cabaret scene but quickly cut a new path in ‘serious’ stage performance playing historical, traditional and new original works and then, to establish viability on the mega stages, established the sensation and spectacle of the Harp Orchestra which established a new career path for modern harpers…
who created a number of stage productions and high profile collaborations (with the Chieftains, BBC Young Musican of the Year special features, PBS Specials featuring the Belfast Harp Orchestra for the production ‘Celtic Harpestry’, Riverdance-like stage shows (such as the Irish National Harp Ensemble in the ‘Spirit of the Dance’), pop & film stars (Brian Kennedy for the Belfast City Hall Millennium live broadcast; Alfie Boe for the Titanic Memorial Concert at the Belfast Waterfront Hall), BBC, Channel 4, the government of Northern Ireland, Irish festivals and organisations abroad), all centrally featuring the Irish harp, bringing the instrument and its very Irish story to a world-wide audience…
...The Irish Harp Centre (2002 – 2016)
in Castleconnell, Co.Limerick, harp school and residential college, music school and base for harp orchestras and other touring groups
including the Belfast Harp Festival (1988 featuring a concert and pageant in Ulster Hall, final event in Linen Hall Library Bicentennial Festival and opening event in 1988 Lord Mayor’s Festival, Belfast), World Harp Festival Belfast (1992, 11 day festival of international harp concerts), the Belfast Harpers Bicentenary (1991-2, year of events), Brian Boru Millennium Festival (Limerick, 2014), the Art ‘n’ Harp festivals in Caherdaniel, Co.Kerry (2008-12), Belfast Harp Festival (1997, 2000, 2003), The Year of Colmcille (1997, cross community collaborative choral and harp concerts throughout Northern Ireland & Scotland)
including the Irish Cultural Studies Summerschools in Kinsale (South Cork 1982-4); the Glencolmcille Harp Summer-schools (Co.Donegal, 1986-2002), Linen Hall Library Harp Summer-schools (Belfast, 1986-1991), Harpfest (Glenarriff, Co.Antrim 1992-2002)
on ‘Irish Music – Whose Music?’ on Perceptions on Music in Northern Ireland (1988); ‘Of History and Harps’ (during the Brian Boru Millennium Festival);
‘Belfast Harpers Assembly’ at the Ulster Folk Museum (6 months)
Belfast Harpers Bicentenary Competition (1992, sponsored by Waterford Crystal)
Clarsheree (1986-1998), Belfast Harps (1986 – 2002), the Belfast Harp Orchestra (1992-2002), Irish National Harp Ensemble (1997-1999), National Harp Orchestra (2004 – 2009), Irish Harp Orchestra (1999-2012), Wild Atlantic Harps (2012 - 2016), Irish Youth Harp Orchestra (2010 - 2015 ), Harbison Harp Quartet (2008 - 2016)
…& Music Schools
Private harp schools in Belfast, Holywood (N.Down), Newry (Co.Down), Rostrevor (Co.Down), Garvagh (Co.L’Derry), Derry (Co.L’Derry), Antrim, Monaghan, Mullingar, Dublin and a community all-instrument Music School, Castleconnell, Co.Limerick (2002-2016, employing 22 teachers, serving 700+ students)
From offering one-on-one regular lessons and group classes to over 400 students (over a career of 40 years), to directing courses of differing durations, masterclasses, seminars and workshops, and residential 1 - 3 year apprenticeships, Janet is a teacher of many dimensions. Also engaged by other festivals, schools and summer-schools - including with Uschi Laar (Austria), Rudiger Opperman (Germany), Phia Berghout (Netherlands), Sheila Mitchel Hart (Tennessee), Lynne Reid (Detroit), Sharon Johnston (Goderich), Camac (USA and Europe), Dominique Bouchaud (Cornuaile), Francoise Le Visage (L’Orient), Aude Fortict (Bordeaux), Rosangela Bonardi (Milan, Italy), Davide Burani (Bologne), Fabius Constable (Lago di Garda, Italy), Noelle Vera (Monaco), the Edinburgh Harp Festival, Festival International de l’Harpe Celtique (Dinan, Brittany), Harfentreffen (Mosenberg, Germany), ‘Beginning in the Middle’ USA, Milwaukee Irish Fest, Celtic College Goderich Canada, Somerset Harp Festival (NJ), Irish Studies (USA). Also a writer of academic articles on subjects from ‘Traditional Irish Music Practise’ to ‘Crisis in Irish Music Education’, from ‘The Legacy of the Belfast Harpers’ Assembly’ to ‘Handbooks for Harp Teachers’; and in various popular journals or feature publications such as ‘World Class Limerick – a Harpers’ Reflection’.
Pioneering oral music education ...
Published a structured oral method of music teaching that marries the old oral/aural Irish tradition with modern education needs and ‘literacy after fluency’. Resourced with Tutor Books for 6 ‘Levels’ (grades) with supporting supplementary materials, examinations, awards, and an ‘E-Learning programme’...
for Mental Health,
Evolving from Harbison’s early studies in Psychology, the value of oral music training and communal music making as in the ‘Irish Session’ is well attested academically for its significance in enhancing cognitive function, communication skills, personal development and confidence building. This is particularly so for people who have become socially isolated, or have special needs (dyslexia or early spectrum autism including Asperger’s). Through acquiring easy Irish harp accompaniment skills with her ‘Chordscapes Programme’ (promoting ‘learning harp by harmony first’), session participation becomes accessible, comfortable and enjoyable.
In 1984, Harbison started a weekly palliative harp programme in the Northern Ireland Hospice for a number of years. Starting from intuitive responding to the patient’s needs with different improvisation techniques, she discovered with the assistance of her medical colleagues how body rhythms and functions were affected positively by the harp music. She was also one of the founding members of ‘Artscare’ in the North Down Trust Hospitals network where live harp music was performed in various hospital departments bringing solace and comfort both to the hospital staff as well as the patients and their visitors. This work will be the focus of future research and publication.
While the idea for the harp orchestras primarily served to create a platform for the harp today, it also offered the opportunity to pursue a social integration project assisting on the path toward Peace and Reconcilliation in Northern Ireland during the ‘Troubles’ (civil strife). Significant funding was secured from the Community Relations Committee, Cultural Traditions Group, Northern Ireland Office, British Council for Sports and the Arts, and other agencies assisting this work, and Peace Awards acknowledged this work from the Flax Trust, the BBC and the University of Ulster.
Catalogue of music
Janet has a large body of published work available to buy in the shop
You can view and download the Catalogue here(Pdf 3.0 Mb)
36 pages of Cd's; Music books; Scores and Tutor books.
There is an order form to print off and send.
See Janet's growing collection of published work to buy.
This list will be added to so to keep up to date, bookmark this page and check the Pdf often!