May 27th - 29th

Galway Early Music Festival

Musica et Scientia

Siobhán Armstrong

Artist Biography

SIOBHÁN ARMSTRONG is one of Europe's foremost historical harpists, playing copies of single and multi-row harps from the Middle Ages to the baroque era. Alongside her solo work, Siobhán performs and records 15th- to 18th-century music with many of Europe's most prestigious historical musicians. She particularly enjoys accompanying vocal music: from plainchant to polyphony to early opera and chamber music. Siobhan also collaborates with some of the foremost singers and instrumentalists in Irish and Scottish Gaelic traditions.

Siobhán is particularly interested in encouraging the revival of the early Irish harp—the wire-strung high art instrument of the Gaelic nobility—which died out around 1800 after a 1000 year history. To this end, she founded and chairs The Historical Harp Society of Ireland and directs its international summer school, Scoil na gCláirseach—Festival of Early Irish Harp. One of her own early Irish harps is a copy of the late medieval Trinity College or Brian Boru harp—the national emblem of Ireland—strung in brass and 18-carat gold.

Siobhán was born in Dublin and, from an early age, studied modern harps, piano and voice. While reading Music at Trinity College Dublin, she directed Trinity College Singers, the university's chamber choir. She also worked professionally as a choral singer, singing with Ireland's only professional choir, the RTE Chamber Choir, before she specialized in historical harps.

Siobhán has embarked on an ambitious recording project, with her group, The Irish Consort, to present a ground-breaking series of recordings of music in Ireland 1500-1800. The first of these recordings, Music, Ireland and the Sixteenth Century was released in February 2019. This project was kindly funded by the Arts Council Music Recording Scheme, managed by Music Network, and by generous private supporters. Siobhán would also like to acknowledge the kind help of Music Network in acquiring suitable harps for her work. 

In 2014, Middlesex University, London, awarded her a post-graduate research bursary to pursue PhD studies in early Irish harp performance practice. Siobhán lectures at universities and conservatories in Ireland, the UK and the USA as well as at early music events and harp festivals internationally. She particularly enjoys teaching and coaching harpists (beginners to professionals), singers and instrumentalists, in both early Gaelic and European music.

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