Alys Howe’s debut recording, phosphorescence

This recording was made while I was a “Celtic” harp student at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. During the years I have spent studying music, both within my own country and outside of it, I have become more deeply aware of the terms I use to identify myself and my music. There are a lot of different kinds of “Celtic” music to choose from, and many different kinds of musicians setting very different examples of what Celtic music is.

As a Canadian Celtic harp player who grew up in Western Canada (which is not the side of the country with strong ties to Irish or Scottish traditional music!) my study and travel in Scotland, Cape Breton, and now Ireland have deepened my awareness of what the music means to me on a very individual level. As a Canadian, I am very proud of the multiculturalism and diversity for which my country is known. Listening to Irish, Scottish and Cape Breton music impartially while growing up, I feel the Canadian representation of Celtic music will very naturally be a hybridization of style, rather than the preservation of a particular regional style from Ireland or Scotland. This “hybridization” of style is, in fact, the Canadian equivalent of regional style. It is what the music becomes where we live, because of our landscape, because of our traditions, because of who we, collectively, are.

At present, I think my true voice as a Celtic harp player is an expression of all the separate influences that I have absorbed, and that this amalgamation of disparate cultures into one person’s very individual sense of their own identity, is a unique feature of the Canadian personality.