Harpist Aisling Ennis writes for Culture about her Harp O'Clock Zoom Concerts, a new project designed to bring the magic of the harp to homes virtually, via Zoom.

The online concerts will happen each Thursday at 11am and once a month, proceeds go to Msizi Africa, a charity that has served over 3 million meals to children in Africa. 

Harp O'Clock is my attempt to spread some joy at a time when so many of us (myself included) are feeling more isolated than ever.

Its a very simple thing really, just me and my harp. An hour of music, banter and chat. An hour of playing as many musical requests as I can get through and finding out why each listener chose their piece of music. Our shared humanity is more important now than ever and no better way than to have a bespoke requests concert on the harp to soothe and entertain. 

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Watch: Me and My Instrument - Aisling Ennis

Having lost all of my performance work,  I really found myself struggling with what I could I do, as a musician to be of service to people at this time. I felt angry at music for being such a useless and impractical 'job’ especially during the early weeks of lockdown. So I baked, and grew lots of plants, walked the dog, endured some very challenging times with sick family members and the lockdown wore on and on. I have a young family, so my days are busy but my parents and mamy of their friends found the days incredibly long and laborious. 

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Watch: Aisling Ennis plays The Swan

I was asked to perform a few pieces during the National Concert Hall’s various Zoom concerts, and was incredibly moved by the impact they had on myself and the audience - I knew had to do more to reach out to people. There is so much to be unsure and nervous of in the time of Covid. What good is a virtual harp concert? Aside from the fact that it is still nearly impossible for live music to take place in so many venues, being reminded of a beautiful melody that brings up a fond memory, a beloved song of old, perhaps a particular person no longer with us, a wedding song, or maybe just a favourite movie theme or a nostalgic tune from a happier time is like chicken soup for the soul.

It's a break from the nagging monotony of pandemic fallout, and an opportunity to be part of a group of people. Even participating in a virtual group on Zoom is still enough to feel connected and part of a community. During the concerts, I invite those who requested songs to introduce them, so that we can find out why it is significant to them – it is this connection that I feel is so important and powerful about what is otherwise a simple harp concert. I would love to think that Harp O’Clock is something people might set up for their older relatives, acquaintances and neighbours, and that other musicians might set up similar concerts and reach out to other communities, too. It is a way for freelance musicians to earn even a small amount of money during the pandemic and be of service in a much needed and meaningful way. 

Watch Harp O'Clock Zoom Concerts with Aisling Ennis every Thursday at 11am - booking info here.