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Key to your Harp

Develop your harp playing skills across a wide range of musical styles. Aimed at tertiary level students and young professionals, each class will provide advice and insight from leading professional harpists on their specialisms. Each class will include demonstrations and participation opportunities on the instrument.


Week 1 and 2 

Dr. Siobhán Armstrong

Speaking with the fingers: learn the art of improvising rhetorical accompaniment in 17th-century opera.


Week 3 

Dr. Clíona Doris

Contemporary music for harp: a class exploring extended techniques for the instrument, the collaborative process with composers and challenges in performance.


Week 4 

Geraldine O’Doherty

The harp in orchestra: a practical guide to orchestral playing covering core repertoire and cadenzas, preparation of parts, speed learning and how to play in orchestra.

Learning Outcomes

Course participants will be given the opportunity to develop skills in specific styles of harp playing through advice and tutelage given by specialists in their field, and reinforcing the learning process through hands on playing opportunities during the class.


For Third level students and young professional harpists.

Participants should be Grade 7-8 RIAM or ABRSM lever or pedal harp.

Age: open


Harpist Geraldine O'Doherty enjoys a diverse career as an orchestral player, chamber musician, soloist and teacher. She is currently the Principal harpist with the RTE Concert Orchestra, a position she took up in 2006, the same year she was appointed to the Royal Irish Academy of Music.

As an active chamber musician who is keen to expand the repertoire for harp, Geraldine has premiered and recorded many works by Irish composers, including John Buckley, Philip Martin, Eric Sweeney, Gerard Victory, James Wilson, Linda Buckley, Garrett Sholdice and Kevin O'Connell. She also recorded five albums of new arrangements and transcriptions of music for violin, cello and harp with violinist David O'Doherty and cellist Moya O'Grady. This was followed by a CD with flute, viola and harp group "Triocca" on the Lyric FM label and an album with the Ficino Ensemble on the Ergodos label, all of which received great critical acclaim on their release.

Geraldine has many years of experience as a recording artist, featuring on film soundtracks and albums recorded in Windmill Lane studios. She also toured the UK extensively with the John Wilson Orchestra, and her current project is a fourth CD with the UCD Choral scholars for Signum records.

Geraldine studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and the Hochschule fur Musik in Zurich with the eminent French harpist Catherine Michel. During her studies, she won the Kiwanis Musikpreis in Zurich and second prize at the Reinl International Harp Competition in Munich.


Siobhán Armstrong is a performer, artistic director, speaker, educator and mentor. One of Europe's foremost harpists playing pre-1800 repertory, on copies of harps from different countries and centuries, Siobhán performs with prestigious singers and instrumentalists (European art music and vernacular Irish music), period-instrument ensembles, orchestras and opera companies throughout Europe. As founding director of The Historical Harp Society of Ireland, Siobhán is spearheading the international rediscovery of Ireland's ancient harp, strung in brass wires.

In 2014, Siobhán located a lost historic Irish harp, and in 2016, she commissioned the first-ever 3D-laser scan of a musical instrument (an 18th-century Irish harp) at The National Museum of Ireland. Her recent PhD (Middlesex University, London) has unlocked new information about early-Irish-harp performance practice. The debut CD of Siobhán Armstrong's ensemble, The Irish Consort – Music, Ireland and the Sixteenth Century – was an Irish Times international classical-music recordings top-five pick of 2021. 

Sharing her wealth of performance experience and research discoveries is now at the heart of Siobhán's artistic, academic, and educational work. She particularly enjoys teaching: coaching harpists (beginners to professionals), other instrumentalists and singers, in both early Gaelic and medieval to baroque European music. Siobhán is an Occasional Lecturer at the School of Music, University College Dublin, and has most recently also been invited to lead workshops at the University of Limerick and The Royal College of Music, London. 

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 the university's chamber choir, was a chorister at Christchurch Cathedral Dublin and worked professionally as a choral singer with the RTE Chamber Choir. When she is not travelling, she now divides her time between Kilkenny and London.

Siobhán would like to acknowledge The Arts Council of Ireland, Music Network and the Dept of Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht for their kind support of her work.


Clíona Doris has extensive experience as a soloist and chamber musician and has performed throughout Ireland, Britain, Europe and the United States. Her broadcasts include performances on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio Ulster, RTÉ LyricFM, National Public Radio USA, ClassicFM TV, UTV, RTÉ Television and BBC Television, including as a soloist at the BBC Proms in the Park from Belfast broadcast as part of the BBC Last Night of the Proms.

An active exponent of contemporary music, Clíona has premiered works by Elaine Agnew, Enda Bates, Linda Buckley, Donnacha Dennehy, Jason E. Geistweidt, Deirdre Gribbin, Philip Hammond, Brian Irvine, Deirdre McKay, Neil Martin, Betty Olivero, Aleksandra Vrebalov, Ian Wilson, Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky and John Zorn. Her recordings include three solo albums, a pale yellow sky (RTÉ lyric fm label), in blue sea or sky (Riverrun Records) and Cantares de la Frontera (LCMS) and a concerto recording of Handel's Harp Concerto with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra (RTÉ lyric fm label). She also features on contemporary chamber music recordings for Louth Contemporary Music Society, NMC Recordings and Diatribe Records.

Clíona graduated with a Doctor of Music Degree in Harp Performance and Music Literature from Indiana University, Bloomington, USA, where she studied with the acclaimed harpist Susann McDonald. She is a graduate of Queen’s University of Belfast and began her harp studies at the Belfast School of Music.

She is a Professor at TU Dublin Conservatoire, where she manages postgraduate performance programmes and lectures in harp, artistic research and performance studies. She previously held the positions of Head of Orchestral Studies and Head of Conservatoire. She is a member of the Board and Corporation of the World Harp Congress, having served as Chair of the Ninth World Harp Congress Dublin 2005. She has also served as a board member of the Music Generation and Music Network and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Contemporary Music Centre Ireland.

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