Don’t expect to get a nap in during a Rachel and Ron performance. While they might lull you for the start of a set into thinking you will hear spa-ready harp music, don’t be fooled. The first clue is when you notice that Rachel stands while playing. Her hands dance on the strings while her body dances with the harp as she blasts pre-conceptions and breaks out of the box while joyfully exploring the versatility of this beautiful instrument. Passionate about sharing the history of the harp and the culture of Scotland, the duo charms audiences wherever they go. From crisp strathspeys and heartfelt airs, to virtuosic reels and driving jigs, Rachel and Ron have combined their influences to embrace the rich cultural tradition in Scotland.
Ron, originally and still a fiddle player, grew up in Findochty and was a finalist in several of the UK’s most prestigious fiddle invitational competitions – the Glenfiddich Fiddle Championship and the Highlands and Islands fiddle Masters. He started playing guitar while studying music in Glasgow and has toured with Skerryvore, Scott Wood Band, Jamie Smith’s Mabon, and the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musicians of the Year, Hannah Rarity and Clare Hastings.
Rachel received first class honors when she left Ullapool and went to study in Glasgow, and received a BA in Applied Music. Regularly invited to teach and perform at harp festivals around the world Rachel is regarded as a specialist in Celtic harp, no easy task for someone so young. Rachel has released 5 CDs and 4 books of harp arrangements and original compositions.
Widely regarded as one of the world’s finest exponents of Scottish Harp (clarsach) playing, Rachel is a prominent performer in the Traditional Music scene and having toured extensively throughout Europe, the US and beyond, she has released 5 critically acclaimed albums.
Her most recent release SPARKS, with duo partner acoustic guitarist Ron Jappy, sees her return to her Highland roots with an eclectic mix of jigs, reels and marches from Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man, paired alongside her own compositions.
Now based in Glasgow, a Scottish city renowned for its melting pot of musical and cultural style, Rachel is passionate about promoting the harp, Scotland’s most ancient of instruments. She strives to open up fresh horizons for it, removing it from its stereotypical, stuffy ballroom image, whilst always remaining true to her Highland roots.
A world renowned soloist and teacher, Rachel has performed and taught at harp festivals in the USA, Japan, Russia, France, Switzerland, Spain, Germany and Scotland. She has published 4 books of harp arrangements and compositions, and her music is currently featured on the syllabuses of both the Trinity College London and RCS Scottish Harp exam syllabuses.
Rachel has adjudicated at several International harp competitions, including the Trophée Camac (Festival Interceltique Lorient), is a qualified judge for the Scottish Harp Society of America and has judged both the finals and the semi-finals of the BBC Young Traditional Musician of the Year.
She was nominated Tutor of the Year at the 2020 & 2016 Scots Trad Music Awards.
Rachel frequently travels to Europe to tutor (she holds both Irish and GB passports) and is the resident monthly Scottish harp teacher at Europes largest harp store, Zingende Snaar, in the Netherlands, and the monthly resident Manx Harp tutor for Culture Vannin on the Isle of Man.
Through her work as the visiting harp for the Isle of Man, the smallest of the Celtic nations, Rachel has emerged as the world’s premiere specialist in Manx Harp music. Having founded the harp ensemble Claasagh on the island, she is at the forefront of a revival of Manx harp and this has led to invitations to teach and perform Manx music worldwide.
Some of the harp festivals that Rachel has performed / taught at include: