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Kinkell Castle is a beautifully restored Tower House dating from 1594.The earliest written record refers to it as ‘The fortalice of Kinkell Clarsach,’ the reason for the tower’s early association with the Clarsach is not known, but what is certain is that the acoustic of the building for the music of the Clarsach is exquisite. When Gerald Laing completed the restoration of the Castle, almost 40 years ago, he invited Alison Kinnaird, a talented young player to play at the party to celebrate the castles new lease of life. She has since become recognised as the foremost exponent of traditional Scottish harp music and is in demand worldwide as both performer and teacher. She has been researching the repertoire of the harp in Scotland for more than twenty-five year and is very familiar to Rossshire music lovers as she gave Clarsach Masterclasses for Feis Rois for nearly 20 years.

Gerald invited Alison to Kinkell again, to lead a Weekend Clarsach course for the Gerald Laing Art Foundation. The Historic atmosphere of Kinkell providing an inspiring background for the learning of new ‘old’ tunes, including an early 18th Century tune intituled Miss Annie Robertson of Dingwall. At the informal candle light Ceilidh on the Saturday night Alison played two tunes on the Wire Strung harp written and played for Bonny Prince Charlie. Gerald contributed with a reading from The Admirable Crichton by Sir Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty. Alison said it was wonderful to be back at Kinkell and that her host had not changed much in the intervening years, she was also delighted to see her many pupils from over the years and to welcome new ones.

The course was very well attended and include four of Alison’s young Masterclass students who are about to embark on their University studies, ‘it was an absolutely brilliant way to spend our last weekend at home in Ross-shire before going off’, said one.

Also attending the course were Clarsach players from far and wide, from Aberdeen to Dumfries, Gairloch to Elgin, all came and spent a memorable weekend at which their repertoire and Clarsach techniques were enriched, and the walls of ‘The fortalice of Kinkell Clarsach’ echoed with the magical sound of the harp, the Highlands original traditional musical instrument.


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