One of the most ancient and fascinating instruments in the world, the harp has been enjoying a true renaissance. Award-winning harp player Alys Howe divides her time between Celtic lever harp, classical pedal harp, and explorations into the developing field of electric harp.
Alys earned a Masters degree in Traditional Irish Music from The University of Limerick. She was the first overseas harp student accepted to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, where she studied Scottish harp and Gaelic song traditions for a year. Alys completed her undergraduate degree in harp with Sharlene Wallace in Toronto, and has studied with many of the most celebrated Celtic harp players of today, as well as developing her classical and orchestral foundations with harpists Elizabeth Volpe and Heidi Krutzen.
Teaching the harp has led Alys Howe across Canada, from the East Coast of Cape Breton at the Gaelic College, to Island Mountain Arts School of Celtic Harp in British Columbia. As an instructor, Alys combines the methodologies of classical technique with the style of Celtic, traditional, and folk musics of the world. Some of her harp students have received RCM gold and silver medals, continued studying pedal harp at the University of British Columbia, and perform concerts together in harp ensembles. Alys has also taught at the undergraduate level for the University of Limerick.
Alys has performed with various orchestras, including Symphony Nova Scotia, The National Youth Orchestra of Canada, Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony, Vancouver Opera, and the orchestra that performed for the opening ceremony at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010. After years of singing with Vancouver Gaelic Choir and Vancouver Bach Youth Choir, Alys is always particularly interested in playing harp for opera and choral music. She has organized and appeared in two concerts to benefit the Seaforth organization “Hope for Wildlife”, and released a CD entitled phosphorescence. With an approach dedicated to promoting multiculturalism in the traditional music she loves, Alys has appeared for diverse organizations including Boxwood Canada, Goderich Celtic Festival, The World Harp Congress, Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival, Dusty Strings, Mission Folk Festival, Feis Slighe Nan Gaidheal, CelticFest Vancouver, Sabhal Mor Ostaig, and Vancouver Television. Perhaps the strangest performance situation Alys has experienced was in Ireland, where she played Irish hornpipes, Scottish strathspeys, and Cape Breton reels on an American harp – for the Prime Minister of Slovenia!
Weaving together three strands from our Celtic-Canadian heritage, Alys Howe’s performances and teaching celebrates the diversity of music in Canada.