Add ons

Deborah Henson-Conant


Add-on to your festival ticket $100 or Stand Alone access $175 in-person and online

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Harpers’ Escape


Add-on to your festival ticket $100 or Stand Alone access $175 in-person and online

More Info ↓

Historical Harp Society

Saturday, 7/27

Add-on to your festival ticket $100 or Stand Alone access $175 in-person and online

More Info ↓

Create a Performance that CONNECTS

A Hands-On Workshop in Musicality and Audience Connection with Grammy Nominated Harp Performer Deborah “DHC” Henson-Conant 

Presence, Musicality, Audience Connection – these are what make a performance truly memorable – and they have nothing to do with the notes.

Join Deborah Henson-Conant for an inspiring, empowering hands-on workshop to kickstart your Somerset weekend. 

You can learn to play the notes with any great teacher – but to create a performance that truly connects  – at any  technical  level – that takes the magic of “DHC” – known world-wide as one of the most innovative and authentic harpist-performers, storytellers and performance coaches – specifically for harpists.

If you’ve ever felt nervous at the thought of performing – whether for friends, a church event, a concert or even as a harp therapist. If you’ve ever wondered “What should I play?” or “What should I play first” or “What if I get nervous?” If you’ve ever thought “Will I sound OK??”, “What if they’re judging me??” “What if I play it wrong???” –  this is the opportunity of a lifetime to be in a LIVE workshop with an internationally renowned performer – who happens to play the harp.

From dealing with “nerves” to accepting applause to feeling like you did everything wrong – the anxiety of performance doesn’t go away because you learn to play the notes better. It transforms through learning to CONNECT – with yourself, your instrument, your music and your audience. And that’s what you’ll do in this workshop.

Starting with how to create simple, effective introductions that calm your nerves and connect with your audience, you’ll discover the secrets of structuring any performance to build a compelling creative “arc,”  learn tips on how to dress in a way that’s authentic to your creative persona and how to effectively connect with your audience – both in words and music – to create an experience they will never forget – and that YOU will truly enjoy performing.

In addition, you’ll  get your own digital copy of DHC’s Performer’s Playbook including:

  • Repertoire Selector
  • Song Structure Templates to use with any tune
  • Tell Your Story with Music Template
  • Harp Helper Checklist (How to set up your stage & tech)
  • 8 Weeks to Showtime
  • Poster Template

You’ll walk away with a once-in-a-lifetime experience, an expanded ability to CONNECT with your instrument, your music, your audience and yourself.

Harpers’ Escape at Somerset

Celebrating its 32nd year

On-site and online with Gráinne Hambly, William Jackson, Debbie Brewin-Wilson and Kathy DeAngelo

Build Your Repertoire: Learn It & Play It By Ear

For 24 magical Octobers, Kathy DeAngelo and You Gotta Have Harp organized the Harpers’ Escape Weekend and brought together harpers from all over the country who wanted to share music in an intimate setting and learn and play traditional Irish and Scottish music by ear. The 2016 Escape was the last Fall retreat and sold out quickly, but by popular request Somerset has been hosting a 1-day Harpers’ Escape with three of the Escape’s long-time popular presenters ever since.  This is a Somerset Add-On discounted to $100 that you can add to your registration. Standalone option for JUST the Escape on Sunday and on our Somerset Saturday in September for $175.

What distinguishes the Harpers’ Escape approach from your usual workshop format? The goal is to really learn the piece before you leave! How? Guidance. Modeling. Repetition. You will have the music so well embedded in your ears and in your hands by the time you’re done. Sure, you’ll get the sheet music afterwards, but that’s essentially an off-line memory jog, just in case. You will have a firm grasp on what you’re being taught. You’ll also feel more comfortable playing it with others. This is a special chance to be in-person or online with our wonderful presenters and your harp buddies who enjoy this unique Escape environment. The Escape this year is starting on Sunday, and then continuing on in September. The Escape this year will be held simultaneously on Zoom and also available later on Somerset Online for replay. All participants will be able to refer back to the video version of the workshop until October 31.

There is a second session, get-together, in September for a refresher and play-along session with tunes.

Find Out Why the Escape Motto is “Harp Till You Drop”

3 Tracks at 3 different levels: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced

Advanced Level with Grainne Hambly

Intermediate Level with William Jackson

Beginner Level with Debbie Brewin-Wilson

Each registrant gets advance access to a Download page with the tunes that will be taught. Just by listening to the tunes a lot in advance of the Escape you’ll actually be learning the tunes in your head! You begin the day with your own specific group and teacher and stay with that group most of the day, learning

at your speed and getting plenty of coaching to really get the pieces in-depth into your fingers.

What to Bring: Recording device if you want to but no music stand needed! These sessions will be recorded on video and

available at a later date too for replay.

How do I Attend? Registrants will get access to the Escape page with their Somerset LOGIN on Somerset Online that will have all the advance sound

files to listen to, PDFs of the handouts, and later, the links to the video replays of the Escape. Attendees on-site just show up to the designated workshop room Online-Only attendees use the Escape page to attend via Zoom link.

See below for the different level workshop schedules.

The Itinerary for the Harpers’ Escape

Sunday 9:30-11am Session 1:. Everybody learns the same “Group” tune at whatever level they’re at. You learn by doing and


12-1pm Lunchtime Concert

1:30-3:00pm: Breakout sessions (3 Breakout Rooms)

Debbie: Beginners

Billy: Intermediate

Gráinne: Advanced

3-4pm: Use It or Lose It Session

All the groups play together in one room

4-5pm:  Teachers concert/showcase

Relax and enjoy a concert with Debbie, Grainne & Billy and Kathy DeAngelo, up close and personal.

Historical Harp Society of Ireland’s Conference 

If you have signed up for Somerset Folk Harp Festival, The Historical Harp Society of Ireland has a unique, special offer for you.

Join them LIVE ONLINE in Ireland’s medieval city of Kilkenny, on Saturday 27 July, 2024, for the first full day of Scoil na gCláirseach–Festival of Early Irish Harp. Players of ALL kinds of harps – who are interested in the ancient harp, and original harp music, of Ireland – are very welcome to participate.
For just $100, you can access
  •  an illustrated TALK about the iconic Brian Boru harp, by Dr Karen Loomis, the world’s foremost expert in the area
  • one of 4 hands-on CLASSES spread over two sessions: hone your skills, learn repertory and explore a historical approach to arranging and performance with Dr Siobhán Armstrong, James Ruff, Sylvia Crawford or Dr Tamzin Elliott
  • a WORKSHOP on how to explore the juicy manuscript pages on which music of the old Irish harpers was transcribed in the 1790s directly from their playing.
  • a teatime CONCERT by Eibhlís Ní Ríordáín, the prizewinning Irish singer and performer on early Irish (wire-strung) harp
  • 3 online tea breaks where you can unwind and socialise with the international Scoil na gCláirseach community around the world.

You will be given access to recordings of all these events until 29 December, 2024!

If you would like to join the entire Scoil festival: 26 July – 1 August as a Somerset attendee, the HHSI will give you a 10% discount on your Scoil na gCláirseach All-Access ticket! That’s 55 interactive, live-streamed / in-person events + 2 concerts performed at Kilkenny Castle! You also have the option to upgrade your HHSI one-day ticket as well!

Scoil na gCláirseach–Festival of Early Irish Harp

Join the HHSI in Kilkenny, Ireland OR live online each day to rediscover, and immerse yourself, in the music and traditions of Gaeldom’s exquisite, ancient harp, guided by expert performers and researchers. Our aim is to share with you the ‘real deal’ of the music of the old harpers, exploring as much of their world as is now possible two centuries after the tradition died out, using everything from 18th-century manuscripts to cutting-edge 21st-century science. We warmly welcome players of ALL kinds of harps.

select past concerts