Celtic Harp Concert at Agawam

Event Description

Saturday, 2006 December 9
Captain Charles Leonard House, 663 Main Street, Agawam, Massachusetts
Sophie Dickinson and friends present a holiday concert on Celtic harps.
$14.00 by advance reservation via e-mail to Meg Sullivan at
or by phone at +1 (413) 789-9267; $18.00 at the door


Meg Sullivan opening the concert
at the Captain Charles Leonard House in Agawam

Haley Hewitt and Sophie Dickinson

Haley Hewitt and Sophie Dickinson

The Celtic harps used at the concert

Review for the Cape Breton Music List
Posted 2006 December 10[1]

Last night, Meg and Dan Sullivan hosted a concert of Celtic harp music at the Captain Charles Leonard House in Agawam, Massachusetts. Haley Hewitt, 18 years old from Longmeadow, Massachusetts, and Sophie Dickinson, 16 years old from Westfield, Massachusetts, were the featured harpists. Haley has been playing harp for nine years and Sophie for five; their teacher, Pat Larkin, was in the near-capacity audience and was asked to stand for a round of well-deserved applause. Both harpists have attended the Ohio Scottish Arts School in Oberlin, Ohio, studying with the American harpist Sharon Knowles and a British harpist whose name I did not catch (the voices of both girls are pitched such that my diminished hearing didn’t pick up much of what they were saying clearly, hence a number of lacunæ and possible errors in names). Haley won the open harp competition at last year’s New Hampshire Highland Games and, as her prize, got to attend the 2006 Edinburgh International Harp Festival.

The young ladies began with a fiddle tune they had learned from Sharon Knowles and continued with a set of three Scottish tunes, Bob Parsons Strathspey, Glenlivet, and the Tongadale Reel. Then, Haley, playing alone, gave us two Christmas carols, followed by the gorgeous Lament for King George V composed by Scottish piper and fiddler Donald Riddell and another Scottish tune set consisting of a strathspey and two reels whose names I did not catch. Sophie then rejoined Haley and they played a duo of slip jigs, Butterfly and one with “Dublin” in its title.

After the intermission, both harpists returned and gave us Hector the Hero followed by a very nice set of three tunes, none of whose names I was able to make out. Sophie then played solo, starting with her own composition, Cobwebs, a very fine slow air and rêverie. Next came The Bells, a Christmas carol, followed by Water Reflections, another of her own compositions, a very interesting and pretty piece with a faster pace than Cobwebs, but still generally in the genre of rêverie. She closed her solo performance with Coventry Carol. Haley then rejoined her and gave us a tune whose name I did not get. The two closed with an Auld Lang Syne that was closer to its Scottish roots than many contemporary American versions. The enthusiastic audience, who gave them a standing ovation, insisted on an encore, which was Captain Campbell’s Strathspey.

I am pretty much ignorant of harp music—my experience is mostly limited to a few CD's, primarily of Irish harp music—so I am unable to comment on how good these young ladies are as harpists. What I can say is that I very much enjoyed their performances and their selections, which carried me along with them through many tunes that were familiar to me from listening to Cape Breton music and exposed me to some that were quite new. I was disappointed that they didn’t play longer—I’d have happily listened to them all night long. As always, Meg and Dan are due a round of thanks for another fine concert in the series they are hosting this year at the Captain Charles Leonard House.

[1] This version is a very slightly modified version of the original posting: I have used a richer character set, made typographical embellishments HTML text allows that pure text does not, changed references to web sites to embedded links, etc., but have not changed the meaning of the original.