Composer in Residence 2016

 HNW Composer in Residence 2016 


Karen Marshalsay

We are absolutely delighted to announce our first ever Composer in Residence! 


The wonderful Karen Marshalsay will be coming down from Edinburgh to work with members to create an exciting new work especially for Harps North West. 


Read on to see how the project unfolded and to watch to the premiere of this fantastic suite of pieces. 

An Introduction from Karen:



I’m very much looking forward to working with Harps North West over the next year in this exciting composition project, and just wanted to introduce myself. I’m based in Edinburgh, having been a west coast person most of my life, and play all sorts of harps from my mainstay levered clarsach, through wire-strung, bray, Paraguayan and pedal harp too. I’m a full-time performer and teacher, and composing, especially for harps, has been one of my major interests in the past few years, with commissions from the Wire Branch of the Clarsach Society, Drake Music Scotland, Hands Up for Trad (Distil), Northborough Harp Festival, and Celtic Connections among other performed works. In the past few years I’ve performed with piper and pibroch expert Allan MacDonald, fiddler Eilidh Steel, harper Bill Taylor, jazz vocalist Cindy Douglas, in North Uist Sea Poems by Pauline Prior-Pitt with music by cellist Catherine Eunson, and in the Scottish/Indian/Japanese multicultural collaboration Yatra for the Edinburgh Mela, as well as solo work and guesting with Na Clarsairean. I’m also a regular harpist at the Balmoral Hotel in Princes Street. All part of the varied and rich mix of a harper today!


In this project I plan to look at melody and tunes and how they work in group settings and arrangements. I’m a big believer in tunes – everyone should get to play them at their own level but still have a recognizable tune to play and practise, (not just odd notes here and there and lots of counting) – and the world of variation and ornamentation that goes along with that and in an ensemble setting that gives lots of scope! I’m very keen that everyone feels confident and gets involved no matter how long you’ve been playing or what your skill level is. I’m excited about meeting you all in December and hearing you play and sharing some music together.


If you want to know more about me check out my website


See you soon!



Workshops and rehearsals with our Composer in Residence

First Meeting - HNW Christmas Concert Party, Dec 13th 2015. Workshop 1 - Feb 27th, 2016. Workshop 2 -June 12th, 2016 Workshop 3 -Sep 18th, 2016. Premiere! - HNW Christmas Concert Party, Dec 11th, 2016.

The Lay of the Land, Part 1. Does some good stuff. lots of musical stuff happens. 

The lay of the land, Part 2. The harpists strike back. 

The Lay of the Land Part 3,