Scoil na gCláirseach

Assistant director, Scoil na gCláirseach

SimonSimon Chadwick lives in St Andrews on the East coast of Scotland. He has been working on the music and traditions of the early Irish harp (or early clàrsach as he calls it in Scotland) since 1998.

Simon learned music as a child (trombone, piano and change ringing) but had had set them all aside for almost a decade when he started his harp studies, working alone through Ann Heymann's published tutor books. As he had no experience of other harps, early, traditional or classical, he followed Ann in making use of the distinguishing features of early Gaelic performance practice, most notably the fingernail techniques, left shoulder playing orientation and the use of unison "sister" stringing.

Simon studied both physics and archaeology at university and applies this training to trying to understand the early Gaelic harp, hence his particular focus on the physical instrument, and his interest in its design, ergonomics and stringing. He was key to the HHSI commissioning its series of student harps from David Kortier, and continues to work on the specifications and design of each new model. He designs the string regime for each one, based on years of experiments with brass, silver and gold strings.

For many years he has played a basic but accurate copy of the 15th Century Queen Mary harp; in 2007 he is replacing it with a new fully-decorated replica by Davy Patton. He also plays a replica of the Downhill harp of 1702 - one of the HHSI Student ones!

Based in Oxford until early 2006, he has long worked to promote the instrument and its tradition on the internet, initially through, the website of the Wire Branch of the Clarsach Society, and more recently through his own project He runs an Emporium selling new and secondhand copies of early Irish harp related books, CDs and accessories. He is also responsible for the websites of the HHSI and Scoil na gCláirseach.