We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to announce that 15 years ago (!) I compiled and edited a book of modern English country dances set to tunes by the blind Irish Harper, Turlough O’Carolan. Since then, the repertoire has expanded. One of my lockdown projects has been to publish the new ones online, and so I am happy to announce that 19 new English country dances (and one strathspey—I love the idea of having a modern Scottish dance set to a tune by an 18th century Irish composer on an ECD-oriented site!) are now available on my website: check out the page titled “Carolan” Both dance instructions and sheet music are available. Thanks to all the choreographers who contributed! One of the great pleasures of a project like this is reaching out to our great community of choreographers and learning more about them and their dances.
But wait, there’s more! To accompany the original Blind Harper Dances book, the trio Amarillis (Maro Avakian, piano, Donna Isaac, violin, viola, and me on concertina, recorder) recorded 14 tracks. That CD is out of print, but the mp3s are available on this page as well.
If you are yearning for more Carolan tunes, you can find the dots at The Old Music Project http://www.oldmusicproject.com/occ/tunes.html This site also has transcriptions of 1,850 Irish tunes as collected by Captain Francis O’Neill around the turn of the last century (scroll back to parent page).
Finally, other folks have been having fun with lockdown projects: In April 2020, harper Anastasia Sergeeva organized the Carolan Lockdown Challenge, a project in which harpers around the world are being randomly assigned a Carolan tune to record and post on YouTube. On my Carolan page there is a link to harper Corrina Hewat playing #41 Planxty Drew, but you can go to YouTube and type in “Carolan Lockdown Challenge” and find many more listening treasures.
Coming tomorrow: another Elsie J. Oxenham post!