Harpist, storyteller weaves history with music | TheUnion.com

Harpist, storyteller weaves history with music

Patrick Ball, harpist and storyteller, will perform at the North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center Friday.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Celtic harpist and storyteller Patrick Ball will present his solo musical piece, “The Fine Beauty of the Island” Friday at North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center.

“The Fine Beauty of the Island” tells the story of the Blasket Islands off the coast of County Kerry in Ireland. For centuries, fishermen, farmers, poets, musicians and storytellers lived on the islands.

In the early 1950s, they were forced to leave their homes and resettle on the mainland because they couldn’t earn a livelihood there anymore.

For more than 20 years, Ball has entertained audiences across the United States and Canada.

With nine instrumental and three spoken-word albums to his name, Ball discovered his ancestors’ stories while studying for a master’s degree in Irish history at Dominican College in San Rafael in the 1970s.

After graduate school, Ball hitchhiked across the country and ended up working at Penland School of Crafts (visual arts) in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains from 1976 to 1977. He realized his love of history and music could be combined after he heard a fellow worker tell stories about the area’s folklore.

After his return to the Bay Area, Ball visited Ireland to acquire more stories about his heritage and become better acquainted with the Irish. There, Ball first heard Turlough O’Carolan’s (1670-1738) harp music and decided to teach himself how to play the Celtic wire-strung harp.

Today, Ball is one of the premier international Celtic harpists and storytellers.

Ball’s harp is a re-creation of Irish harps made a thousand years ago, which were strung with solid brass.

Just like the musicians from 1000 A.D., Ball plays the brass strings with his fingernails to bring out the deeply resonant sounds. Similar to the ancient Celtic harps, Ball’s harp has 32 solid brass strings, and the body is made of hardwood.


WHAT: Celtic harpist-storyteller Patrick Ball in performance

WHEN: Friday at 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center, 17894 Tyler Foote Road on the San Juan Ridge.

ADMISSION: $10 for Schoolhouse members and $12 for nonmembers. Tickets at Mother Truckers, Harmony Books, BriarPatch, Book Seller and at the door.


265-2826 or check out http://www.patrickball.com for more information.

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