Floating along the musical river of life, Scottish harpist Corrina Hewat is finding her way

Imagine growing up in the beautiful Scottish Highlands, surrounded by the rugged mountains, lush vegetation, and big sky, the landscape accented by ancient castles and mysterious lakes. Corrina Hewat doesn’t have to imagine it—she lived it. It was up against this magical backdrop that Hewat was immersed in Scotland’s music tradition, first with the piano and fiddle, and later with the harp.

Hewat talks about the Highlands with great fondness and a special glimmer in her eye. We found out about her Scottish roots and much more when we caught up with her via Skype from her home just outside Edinburgh, where she was gracious enough to make time to chat with us on the eve of the Edinburgh International Harp Festival.

Harp Column: Tell us a little bit about your involvement with the Edinburgh International Harp Festival and what makes it so special.

Corrina Hewat: It is now in its 38th year and is entirely by volunteers, which is a really important aspect of the festival that everyone gives their time to set it up and run it. I went to the harp festival when I was young, maybe 13 or 14, when I had just started learning the harp. Then I became part of the committee in 2002 and  helped run it for a few years. I stepped back from that now, because I’ve run out of time in my life. It’s huge. I’m guessing there are about 400 participants who come and learn during a week of classes and workshops in pedal and lever harp. There are also smaller workshops that involve other aspects of traditional music from around the world. There are great concerts each afternoon and night as well. It’s really become an international harp festival now. The team is made up of very forward-thinking people, but they are all giving their time for free, and it’s very hard work to run that huge festival. All of the money raised from the festival goes back into the Clarsach Society, which is a harp hire organization and has a collection of teachers. It is all connected to a much bigger harp world in the U.K.

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Editor of Harp Column, freelance harpist, private teacher, hot yoga lover, and grammar geek.

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