Welcome to The Spanish Peaks Harp Retreat

September 24 - 27,  2015



The Spanish Peaks Harp Retreat is entering its 11th year of offering several days of multi-level harp workshops and instruction. Harp events are set in the midst of a full Celtic Festival in Southeast Colorado. 

The Clàrsach or Cláirseach is the name given to the wire-strung harp of either Scotland or Ireland. The word begins to appear by the end of the 14th century. Until the end of the Middle Ages,  it was the most popular musical instrument in Scotland, and harpers were among the most prestigious cultural figures in the courts of Irish/Scottish chieftains and Scottish kings and earls. In both countries, harpers enjoyed special rights and played a crucial part in ceremonial occasions such as coronations and poetic bardic recitals.

Integrating traditional Celtic tunes and the distinctive resonance of the Clàrsach wire-strung harp into modern repertoires, instruments, and playing techniques will be the focus of the 2015 Spanish Peaks Harp Retreat.  While the playing of the traditional Gaelic wire-strung harp declined in Scotland in the 18th century and in Ireland in the early 19th century, many of the classic tunes were preserved through efforts such as those led by Edward Bunting, a professional organist hired to compile sheet music for songs performed at a 1792 harp festival in Belfast. 
Today there is revived interest in the Clàrsach and  Cynthia Cathcart, a leading performer and teacher in the field, will guide the Retreat with presentations of ancient music from Ireland, Scotland and Wales and demonstrations for incorporating wire harp techniques into the playing of nylon and gut-strung harps.  
Entering its 11th year of presenting and providing instruction in traditional Celtic music, the Retreat will offer several days of harp workshops appropriate for all levels of players.  Participants will also have an opportunity to learn from Sue Raimond about the use of the harp as an enrichment/therapy tool for animals, which she has consulted on with the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases as well as large zoos and animal rescue facilities. 


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People are Talking!
"I came home from this year's retreat with Christina, Park, and Maire, absolutely filled with a sense of the living essence of music--in rhythm, tone, and effect, versus it just being the thing we do. Totally transforming. I'm a different musician now."

I have attended the Spanish Peaks harp retreat now for 8 years. Every workshop brings the best players from the Irish and the Scottish traditions. Each year, my understanding of the songs and the culture deepens. I really love the intimacy of our circle of players. We get to know each other in a smaller venue and we are able to converse with our teachers and get to know them too. Southern Colorado is absolutely gorgeous in the fall-the mountains and the skies. I would not miss it!


"This year, I learned so much from Christina, Park and Maire.  The instruction from each teacher was personalized yet geared for everyone.  During lunches and breaks I had ample opportunity to speak with each instructor and discuss ideas.  (I know I am a better harp teacher for attending.) I wouldn't miss this weekend for anything.