Hi there. My name is Janet Harbison and I have composed a Suite of plainsong and harp music commemorating the 6th century Irish Saint Colmcille - also known as Saint Columba. My suite was originally performed in 1997 commemorating the 1400th anniversary of St.Colmcille's death with my Belfast Harp Orchestra (young harp players from both communities in Northern Ireland), who performed the work with over 20 community choirs from both Catholic and Protestant traditions together - which contributed to the achievement of peace in Northern Ireland at the time.
In 2021, we celebrate the 1500th anniversary of the birth of St.Colmcille/Columba (in the year 521AD). This very special anniversary year should have resounded with voice and harp concerts throughout Ireland and Scotland and farther afield, but all live concerts had to be cancelled due to the pandemic. So, I suggested to make our 2021 performance of the Colmcille Suite a world-wide virtual concert - and over 100 harp players and voices from all over the globe have enlisted. For the virtual concert video, I have also enlisted the collaboration of internationally renowned calligrapher, Jane Sullivan, to illuminate the great 150th psalm famously sung by St.Colmcille - which is stunningly beautiful and evocative of the artistic talents of the saint himself. Our wonderful and now widely celebrated soprano, Mairead Healy, has consented to sing once again - as has also our original native Irish speaking narrator, Antaine O'Dhonnaile, who will once again recite the poetry. This concert will also be a tribute to our extraordinary Ulster-Scots narrator and friend, George Holmes (d. 2010).
Saint Colmcille/Columba was heroic for many reasons. He was renowned as a singer of the psalms, as a poet, as an illuminator of sacred texts (his work lead to the glorious Book of Kells), as a peace-maker - and he brought Christianity to Scotland. In the virtual concert of my Colmcille Suite that will be broadcast on December 7th, 2021, on the anniversary of Colmcille's death, you will hear the story of Colmcille/Columba with early Celtic Christian plainsong, ecclesiastical poems and hymns dedicated to the saint with original settings of his poetry to new harp music. Also in this one-hour presentation, you will hear the recitation in Irish and English of the great ode - and, we invite you to join with us to sing the trimphal Finale featuring the 'Laudate Dominum', the 150th psalm, from Jane's illuminated text with the immortal words: "Praise the Lord with lute and harp!"
I ask for your support to fund this production and make it available to all on You Tube on December 7th at 6pm GMT, the anniversary of St.Colmcille's death. By the time we could see that concerts weren't possible this year, it was too late to lobby for funding from the usual government sources and my own skills don't include video editing or filming. Please help me raise the funds to pay for the editing and filming of the new sequences that will make this virtual tribute to Saint Colmcille/Columba one to remember - and make available to all. We, and Saint Colmcille/Columba, thank you!