Article Index

Celebrating Cultural Heritage

  • World travelled stage production created by Janet Harbison, featuring the music, song and dance of Ulster in traditional and original music.
  • Concerts included features in New York’s Carnegie Hall; Washington DC’s Kennedy Centre; London’s Royal Festival Hall and Barbican Centre; Birmingham’s Symphony Hall; Dublin’s National Concert Hall; Munich’s Philharmonic Hall.  Also, enjoyed top billing at: Milwaukee Irish Fest; Bonn’s Somerfest; Brittany’s Festival International de l’Harpe Celtique, Dinan; Lorient Interceltique Festival; Irish festivals at Carolan Harp Festival, Keadue and Nobber, and Granard Harp Festival
  • BHO 1st generation Coshcib UFTM 1988 001Numerous national and international television and film features including a PBS Special aired throughout the USA that was published by Polygram as CD and Video (becoming a ‘Bestseller’);
  • Performed the opening of Belfast’s Waterfront Hall and at numerous state occasions
  • Interval feature for BBC Young Musician of the Year and were the prime feature in BBC’s millennium broadcast from Belfast City Hall with Brian Kennedy;
  • Numerous TV features including Blue Peter (3 times), Songs of Praise (with music arranged by Janet for flautist Sir James Galway and the NI Symphony Orchestra)
  • Grammy award winners with the Chieftains 1993 for their “Celtic Harp” collaboration
  • 10 years a highly accomplished stage production featuring over 20 Irish champion harpers aged 7 to 17 years launching the careers of many of the significant harp soloists and composers of today
  • Was the first musical ensemble to bring together (from 1994) Uilleann pipes and Scottish bagpipes, Bodhran and Lambeg Drum, Fifes, Fiddles, Flutes, Concertinas, Singers and Dancers
  • Created a new hybrid of ‘ecumenical’ music drawing from rock, classical and traditional music styles
  • Featured membership from both communities in Northern Ireland, the orchestra was an opportunity for each to learn about the other – to accept, accommodate and celebrate their diversity.
  • Performed to audiences of both communities in Northern Ireland, allowing each to celebrate what was familiar to them and learn about the other
  • Played a significant role in presenting the story of Ulster in music, song and dance to the world at large showing that the past can offer the players and audiences creative opportunities to express their histories, hurts and identities, while building bridges of friendships and reconciliation while sharing great adventures on concert tour
  • Were awarded for their significant role in Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland
  • Was the showcase for the work of orchestra leader, director, trainer and composer, Janet Harbison who saw the opportunity for using the harp to educate young people across the political divide in Northern Ireland
  • Was the most visible project of the work of the Harp Foundation, a charitable trust established by Janet Harbison to support the Orchestra and the harp schools in Belfast, Holywood, Newry, Rostrevor, Derry, Garvagh, Limavady from which the Orchestra members were drawn. Sponsorship was received from the British Foundation for Sports and the Arts, Community Relations Council, Cultural Traditions Group, the Northern Ireland Office and Belfast City Council and the private sponsor Templemore Care Homes. But primarily, the ongoing funding was provided from the Orchestra’s own entertainer’s agency ‘Belfast Harps’ that operated from 1990 to 2002.