Grainne Hambly performs at Washington and Lee

On Friday, March 28th of 2003, the internationally renowned Irish Harper Grainne Hambly gave a public lecture and performance at Washington and Lee University. The lecture, at 4 in the afternoon, was attended by students, faculty, and also folk from the community. Ms. Hambly discussed in detail the origins, development, and transformations of the Irish harp from the 7th century A.D. to the present moment. For each point she made, she would then play music from the relevant period to demonstrate the idea or style she was emphasizing. The audience had many questions for her, which she answered with ease and interest. The lecture was highly intriguing and most informative.

For the evening concert, Lee Chapel was nearly full on the ground floor main aisle (about 150 people in attendance), and again the audience was a fine mix of faculty, students, and many people from the community (including from as far afield as Charlottesville). The concert lasted over an hour, and again Ms. Hambly played an impressive variety of music from 18th century Carolan pieces to contemporary compositions that are only a few years old. She also gave brief explanations of the pieces, peppered with bits of Irish history, musicology, and the occasional witticism. A highlight was when a young girl (about six) spontaneously came on stage and danced a traditional Irish step dance to one of the tunes Ms. Hambly was playing.

The audience gave Ms. Hambly a standing ovation, and she played two encore pieces. I must have received grateful thank-yous from a dozen people for putting together such a performance. Severn Duvall, professor emeritus of English, described the concert as "triumphant." Many folk asked eagerly when we would repeat the visit, and I am happy to report that Ms. Hambly will be returning to W&L on October 22nd of 2003. Ms. Hambly herself told me it was one of the most satisfying audiences she has played for on her current tour.

Marc C. Conner

Department of English