The Somerset Folk Harp Festival has presented its 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award to Ann Heymann, a pioneer in the wire-strung harp revival. Heymann also received the Historical Harp Society of Ireland’s Lifetime Achievement Award this year for her research on the early Irish harp. Heymann lives in Minnesota with her husband Charlie, and they perform together as Clairseach, the Irish word for Gaelic harp.
The festival’s director, Kathy DeAngelo, says, “Every presenter I’ve had at Somerset covering ‘early music and historic harp’ has drawn a direct line to Ann Heymann as a major influence on their own playing. In 1975 when she stumbled onto a wire-strung harp made by Jay Witcher (who received our Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018), no one living really knew how the ancient music sounded nor how those harpers played it. Ann has spent nearly 50 years researching, experimenting and developing the techniques, and sharing her expertise tying ancient lore to her brilliant performances on the wire-strung harp. You listen to her, and you are transported back in time to the Great Hall.”