The NEW ORLEANS CELTIC HARP ENSEMBLE is a group of Louisiana harpists who are dedicated to the promotion of the harp, as well as Celtic culture in Louisiana. The Ensemble was formed in January, 2001.

The goals of the New Orleans Celtic Harp Ensemble are: To provide a nonthreatening group performance experience for professional harpists & harp students in Louisiana, to promote the Celtic culture, which is part of New Orleans's heritage & to inspire a new generation of students to study the harp.

PATRICE FISHER is a professional Louisiana harpist & composer of Celtic ancestry. She is a graduate in music from Tulane University. She has studied Celtic music with Grainne Hambly, soloist with and Janet Harbison, director of the Belfast Harp Orchestra, with Scottish harpist, Billy Jackson & in Ireland with harpist, Maire Ni Chathasaigh of the Cairde Na Cruite Irish Harp Society. Patrice is the founder of the New Orleans Celtic Harp Ensemble.

The Ensemble includes: Director Patrice Fisher and Harp Students: Maeve Lawless, Caroline Lawless, Ivonne Douma, Phyllis Waring, Eyler Coates and semi-professional musicians: Molly Wiggins and Laurie McConnell.

MAEVE AND CAROLINE LAWLESS are sister harp students of Celtic ancestry, who have studied the harp since 2001.

LAURIE MCCONNELL is a harp student of Scottish ancestry. She has played the harp since early 2004.

IVONNE DOUMA is an intermediate harp students, who have studied harp since 2002.

EYLER COATES is a beginning harp student, who has studied the harp since 2010.He is a multi-instrumentalist, who also plays guitar, bagpipes, piano, bass..

MOLLY WIGGINS is an advanced harp student, who has studied the harp since 1995.

PHYLLIS WARING is a beginning harp student, who has been playing harp since 2009.

YEONSOO SON is a beginning harp student, an multi-instrumentalist, who plays piano, as well.

 

FESTIVALS, RECENT MAJOR CONCERTS

Grace Church Post Christmas Celebration, New Orleans, 2008

Historic Christmas Past Celebration, Mandeville, La annually in December, since 2005,

Preservation Resource Center Home Tour, New Orleans, La. annually, December since 2004.

Jane Austen Festival, Mandeville, La, February, 2008, 2009

Trinity Artists Series, Trinity Church, New Orleans, La. annually spring, since 2006,

Bach Around the Clock Festival, Trinity Church, New Orleans, La, annually March, since 2003

Tartan Day, Lakeside Mall, Metairie, La. annually in April, since 2003

Vianne’s Tea Salon, Mandeville, La., quarterly since 2007

St Anna=s Church, Mission to Musicians, New Orleans, La. annually in July since 2006.

Rudolph Matas School, Metairie, La. annually in April, since 2006,

American Harp Society Harp Rally, 2006

New Heights Handicapped Children Therapy Center, Folsom, La., annually since 2008

Associated Center for the Blind, Lafayette, La., April, 2009

Renaissance Festival, Hammond, La., November, 2009

New Orleans Children=s Museum, May, 2008

New Orleans Children=s Hospital, May, 2008

St. Anthony Church Fall Fair, New Orleans, La., October, 2007

New Orleans School of Irish Dance, Spring Fling Concert, April, 2007

Gerry O=Keefe Cultural Center, Ocean Springs, Ms. December, 2005, 2006

Ville St Marie Senior Center, Harahan, La. December, 2005,

Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation, Vicksburg, Ms. February, 2006,

Woldenberg Village Senior Center, New Orleans, La. February, 2006,

New Orleans Museum of Art, reopening, March, 2006,

Cite des Artes Center, Lafayette, La. March, 2006,


Unitarian Church, Fairhope, AL. April, 2006,

Art in April Festival, Chalmette, La. April, 2006,

Fest For All, Baton Rouge, La. May, 2006,

Country Day School,Metairie, La. June, 2006

Celtic Nations Heritage Festival, Lake Charles, La. October, 2006,

Highlands and Islands Festival, Gulfport, Ms. November, 2006

Latter Library, New Orleans, La. October, 2006,

 

 

People of Celtic ancestry have long been a part of Louisiana's history. Thousands of Irish immigrants were recruited to come to New Orleans in the 1800's to build the New Basin Canal. This was a dangerous, thankless, job, which required a huge work force. Many of the Irish came as indentured servants, working to pay their employer back for the cost of their passage, before becoming free. Thousands of these early immigrants lost their lives to yellow fever & cholera. Many more Irish followed & took up residence in an area of New Orleans, which would become known as the Irish Channel. Ensemble Director, Patrice Fisher, is of Celtic Heritage. Her ancestors came to the U.S. from Ireland to escape the potato famine of the 1840's.

The harp is an instrument which is very common in Ireland. It is intrinsically identified with the Celtic culture. Unlike the orchestral or pedal harp, which is very expensive ($8,000 & up), a Celtic or lever harp can be purchased for less than $1,000. The Celtic harp is a diatonic instrument which is  smaller & more portable than the pedal harp. Traditional Celtic music is much simpler to play than classical music. The traditional method of teaching music in Ireland is to learn "by ear." Ensemble Director, Patrice Fisher says "I was inspired in the summer of 2000, when I had the privilege of  playing together with a group of 60 Irish harpists in the Cairde Na Cruite Harp Festival in Termonfeckin, Ireland. I was amazed at how easy it was to get these harpists to play a common repertoire of traditional music together. The experience also gave young students a chance to work together with their teachers in a group performance. Playing the harp is often a solitary occupation, which requires good technique & performance experience. Many years of study are required to prepare a solo recital, which can sometimes be a terrifying experience for students. The harp ensemble concert, however, was actually fun.