Does anyone remember the Garry Larson cartoon ‘Welcome to Heaven  here’s your Harp; Welcome to Hell, here’s your Accordion’?

I loved that cartoon . . . and I read recently that actually harpists were once looked upon with disdain and seen even as ‘outlaws’.

When I was suggested as a founder Poozie member (before even the name was invented) by Sally Barker to Mary Macmaster and Patsy Seddon, there was a gasp of horror – accordions playing with harps???? Never. . .

Anyway. All those years ago I was very sniffy about lots of things including ‘not liking’ Scottish bagpipes – until I heard 3 pipers playing outside a pub in Rothbury (with a snare drum) in close 3 part syncopated harmony. Utterly meserising, fun and amazing.

That was a turning point – so it’s the player, not the instrument – we can all emit ‘poisonous sounds’ (AS mR. Lebrecht says about accordions) or heavenly music. . .and then there’s perception – some may think that ‘Heaven’ exudes clashing dischords or subsonic bass  lines. Hmmm, Metallica angels. . . I quite like that.

Sorry, I digress.

Before I get to the squeeze versus plucked, let’s take another route for a minute – flutes. Have a look at this – it combines my interest in old with sound and also that whatever we find / dig up, it’s all conjecture (is that the right word?) – we can guess but we actually have no idea what sounds, scales etc were made thousands of years ago. I do love thinking about it though.

This article is from the publication of the Acoustical Society of America (Vol 10, Issue 3). The writer, Jelle Atema works in Boston, USA and has labs in Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and analyses the underwater sensory worlds of lobsters, sharks and reef fishes. Thank you to Steve Pollitt for bringing this to my attention.

Suddenly I’m not so interested in accordions anymore. . .

(Photo : Dave Ellis)
Last night was an enchanted evening – beautiful venue, great audience and the most incredible music from Nick Wiseman-Ellis and Nic Zuppardi. My heartfelt thanks go to them, all their friends who made the evening so special and to Jacky Dye for lending me her Sonola accordion which she bought from Allodis in London. What an accordion! (swoon).

We’re looking forward to the Creative Accordion Day today (in the same venue) with 10 participants. Great fun! There’s some video links I’ll send you from the concert soon – do look out for the Two Nicks.

As Martin Hayes says, ‘The best music is yet to come. . .’ – last night certainly proved that for me.

Uh oh, we’re already deep into the accordion-talk forest, so just to let you know that the new BUNCH OF KEYS CD 3  is out and available from my website :

– packed with great tracks from 23 piano accordionists (different to those on CDs 1 &2), it includes a track from Kevin Taylor – one of the people I greatly admired and respected in my teens (and who adjudicated me several times – my, he took no prisoners!).

Many thanks to Philip Clarke and his team for putting this together again. We enjoyed such a fun night at the launch with great accordionists such as Frank Kelly and Mick Foster (Foster & Allen) alongside many of the younger hot players. I loved Edel McLaughlin’s playing – really beautiful, that night.

OK, ok, strings now. . .

Well, almost! While here in Norwich, I’ve been discussing Shape Note Music from the Sacred Harp (a way of singing that is easy to follow and joyous to sing) – pop along to the Octagon Chapel, Colegate, Norwich NR3 1BN on Monday evenings from 7-9pm with Cath and Fynn. No experience necessary – just bring your voice and prepare yourself for a great dose of wonderful singing in a very uncomplicated way.

And Harp On Wight is gathering speed – the website is being updated, concerts, lectures, tuition information and tickets are now online and booking can also be taken by phone / paypal.
Volunteers are starting to get stuck in and momentum is gathering. . . fundraising concerts and events are happening. . . hope you can hop across!!!

Here’s the details :

Harp on Wight

An interesting new music festival – focusing on the harp- will be taking place at various venues in Ryde, Isle of Wight during the last week in November.
The new event is entitled Harp on Wight, and will consist of a series of concerts and teaching workshops featuring nationally recognised harpists from both folk and classical music.

The teaching courses will be open to all levels of ability from absolute beginners to advanced.and to all age groups from seven years upwards.

The Festival will also include an exhibition of harps by national harp manufacturers and a one week course where attendees will be able to make their own harp is also planned.

In addition, there will be a competition for a new piece of harp music inspired by the Isle of Wight. The competition will be divided into two age groups – under and over sixteen – with a cash prize for each. (See below for more details)

The original idea and inspiration for the Festival came from Annamaria Sacchini from Michelangelo’s Restaurant in Ryde who plays both harp and sitar.

Anna – who is the part of the organizing team for the event – attended an International Harp Festival last year in  Dinan, France. She thought that a similar event would be well-suited to Ryde : an interesting and artistically stimulating event for participants and audience members – from both on and off the Island – outside of the main holiday season.

For further information about the event please visit or telephone 01983-730930.

Also see :

Schedule :
Teaching Courses are at : ST. MARY’S CENTRE, High Street, Ryde Isle of Wight PO33 2RE

Thursday 27th Nov
14:00 – 16:00
Teaching / workshops (Beginners / Intermediate / Advanced)

19:30   CONCERT: MIKE PARKER ST. MARY’S CHURCH, High Street, Ryde Isle of Wight PO33 2RE
Tickets : £10
From : 01983 730930 or online :
Friday 28th Nov
10:00   – 13:00
Teaching / workshops  (Beginners / Intermediate / Advanced)
10:00   – 12:00
Teaching / workshops (Hands On Harps : Absolute Beginners)

14:30 – 15:30   LECTURE :  MIKE PARKER  “The Harp; which one?” Countess Room, ST. MARY’S CENTRE, High Street, Ryde Isle of Wight PO33 2RE

Mike Parker, a highly respected harpist and musicologist will give a lecture on the development of the harp, sailing through its history. Starting with Ravel and looking back to the 10th Century, Mike will move through mediaeval, renaissance and baroque classical styles while also covering the construction, stringing, playing style and common misconceptions of the harp.
Everything you need to know about the harp . . . and so much more!
Booking advisable.
Tickets: £5
From : 01983 730930 or online :

19:30   CONCERT: ARCANGELI (Classical Harp Duo) Methodist Church, Garfield Road, Ryde PO33 2PT
Tickets : £10
From : 01983 730930 or online :
Saturday 29th Nov
10:00 – 13:00
Teaching / workshops (Beginners / Intermediate / Advanced)
10:00 – 12:00
Teaching / workshops (Hands On Harps : Absolute Beginners)

14:30 – 15:30   Concert   Frances Mason and Jenny Broome (Harp-Violin)  ST. MARY’S CHURCH, High Street, Ryde Isle of Wight PO33 2RE
Tickets : 01983 730930

19:30   CONCERT: SILEAS – 
(Mary Macmaster & Patsy Seddon Scottish harp duo)  
Ryde Aspire, Trinity Buildings, Dover Street, Ryde PO33 2BN
Tickets : £10
Tickets : £10
From : 01983 730930 or online :

And more to be announced!


A competition for a new piece of harp music :
 the piece is for solo harp
–  the piece must not exceed 4 minutes’ duration
–  the theme is any aspect of the Isle of Wight
– Two categories : Under 16 and Over 16
– All entries must be received by Wed 15th October
– Entry Forms are available from www.harponwight
– The winner in each category will have their piece performed at Harp On Wight 2014
– The composer need not be a harpist
– Prize Money : Under 16 : £100 Over 16  : £200
(This event is sponsored by Michelangelo’s Restaurant, Ryde).


Harp On Wight Fundraising Concert!

Vaguely Sunny’s next concert takes place at 7.30pm on Saturday, September  13th and  is a fund raiser for  Harp on Wight . Vaguely Sunny are part of the Harp On Wight organising team.
The concert features singer/songwriter Maz (short for Marie Louise) O’Connor. Her songs -both self-penned and traditional – are influenced by her native Cumbria.
Maz’s star is fast rising in the folk world. Only a couple of years on from the culmination of her studies, she has already  been the recipient of the Horizon Award for Best Newcomer in the 2013 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.
Her second album ‘This Willowed Light’ is hot off the press. Being innovative, whilst still managing to honour the tradition, is the challenge for any young folkie, and Maz carries it off with disquieting ease, assisted by Jim Moray’s expert production. No wonder that The Observer recently rated it as ‘Folk Album Of The Year’ thus far. For more information about Maz’s music please visit
Maz will be supported by young Island singer/songwriter Lauran Hibberd who received a positive response to her appearances on The Bohemian Woods stage during this year’s Isle of Wight Festival, and also at  the earlier Festival warm-up gig at The Black Sheep Bar in Ryde. Please see
The concert is taking place at Aspire, Ryde which is the former Holy Trinity Church building in Dover Street, Ryde. Heath Monaghan and his team  have worked extremely hard in a short space of time in order to adopt the building to a range of community use and we are keen to support that. Please see for further information.
Tickets for the  concert are £10.00 each and can be booked in advance by phoning 01983-730930.

And in case you wanted to go to the Brading  Roman Villa for their latest talk :

From: FBRV <>
Sent: 05 September 2014 17:10
Subject: Roman Medicine Sold Out.

Dear Friend,

The Roman Medicine lecture is now sold out.

Best wishes, David Reeves.


Saturday 6th September – 3pm
In the New Exhibition Gallery.
Dr Nick Summerton is a practising GP and an expert lecturer and author on Roman Eye Medicine and will demonstrate modern reproductions of Roman medicines made using original recipes. Tickets are £6 and on sale at the Villa: 01983 406223

I’ll stick, in that case, to music. I saw, in a magazine, the other day a lovely quote :

‘Every problem can be healed by music’.

That’s my hope, anyway.

Lastly, both Ian Carr and David Mar have brought ‘Katzenjammer’ to my attention :

Perfect for a Sunday morning. Thanks, chaps!

Kt Dates:

Sunday 7th September : NORWICH : Karen Tweed & Nick Wiseman-Ellis CREATIVE ACCORDION DAY
The Silver Rooms, Silver Road, Norwich NR3 4TB
10am – 5.30pm
Tickets: £40

Open to all systems of accordions (no beginners); there will be sessions on performance, being nervous, composing, practising techniques as well as Tango!, French and Swedish folk music.

For information and booking see :


For Karen’s teaching (UK) schedule, see