The Historical Harp Society of Ireland

Fri 7th - Thur 13th | July 2023



James Ruff

Tutor, speaker, concert artist

James is an award-winning singer, and harpist, from the USA, who researches and performs early Gaelic song and harp repertoires. A fluent Scottish-Gaelic speaker, James has studied early Gaelic song with noted Scottish singers, Kenna Campbell and Mary Ann Kennedy, among others. As a tenor, James has degrees in voice performance from the University of Southern California and Boston University, his professional vocal experience ranging from medieval liturgical drama to French baroque haute-contre repertoire, bel canto opera and more. James is a professional performer on the early Gaelic harp; his teachers include Ann Heymann, Siobhán Armstrong, Bill Taylor and Javier Sáinz. He has served on the music faculties of Amherst College, Smith College, MIT, the University of Connecticut, and Longy School of Music. He has taught at Vassar College since 2009, also teaching both voice and harp privately. His solo CD, The Gaels' Honour: Early Music for Harp and Voice from Gaelic Scotland and Ireland, was released in December 2018. Listen to James Ruff

Alessia Bianchi

Tutor, workshop leader

Alessia graduated in classical harp at the Arrigo Pedrollo Conservatory of Vicenza, in Music Therapy at the G. Ferrari school of specialization in Padua and in Celtic Harp at the Agostino Steffani Conservatory of Castelfranco Veneto. She has also studied Humanistic Music Therapy at the Italian Federation of Music Therapists. Alessia has been teaching classical and Celtic harp since 2006 in private institutes and state schools. She directed a private music school and founded an ‘Atelier of the body and mind’ where she led meetings and music therapy projects aimed at children. In recent years Alessia has also specialized in the historical Gaelic harps of Ireland and Scotland, and the 18th-century Irish harp repertory preserved in the manuscripts of Edward Bunting. She plays a copy of the 'Downhill' harp, an early 18th-century Irish instrument. Listen to Alessia Bianchi

Bill Taylor


Bill is a teacher-in-residence with Ardival Harps, Strathpeffer, in the Highlands of Scotland.  For many years he has taught at the Edinburgh International Harp Festival in the UK, and at the Amherst Early Music Festival in the US, and he is often invited to lead workshops, and to perform, in the British Isles, Europe and the United States. His teaching covers a wide range of subjects: arranging for small harps, using fingernail technique to play wire-strung harps, psalteries and bray harps, and exploring music from medieval, Renaissance and traditional sources. Over the past three years he has taught a series of courses on playing music in the historical Welsh harp manuscript of Robert ap Huw, and he is currently constructing a website to serve as a performing guide for playing that music’s tablature. He has made over thirty recordings as a soloist, and with several different ensembles. Listen to Bill Taylor

Reiko Ichise

Concert artist

Reiko Ichise, a Tokyo-born viola da gamba player, moved to London three decades ago to pursue her studies at the Royal College of Music. She has since established herself as a sought-after chamber musician in Britain and further afield. Her love of chamber music has led her to perform regularly with prestigious ensembles such as Florilegium, Passacaglia, The King's Consort, Bach Players, Theatre of The Ayre, Elephant House Quartet, The Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments, and The Irish Consort. As a chamber musician, Reiko has recorded a number of critically acclaimed albums. She was also a member of the award-winning viol consort, Fretwork, for eight years, where she had the opportunity to perform both old and new music. As a soloist, she has appeared at a number of international festivals, and concert series, with orchestras such as The Academy of Ancient Music, English Baroque Soloists, Gabrieli Consort, Arte dei Suonatori, Britten Sinfonia, and The Halle Orchestra. Reiko is a professor of  viola da gamba at The Royal College of Music in London. Listen to Reiko Ichise

Ryosuke Sakamoto

Concert artist

Ryosuke Sakamoto graduated from Tokyo University, and also released his first acclaimed CD [Gramophone], ‘Travels with my Lute’ in 2007 in addition to solo and ensemble work in Japan including performances with The Bach Collegium. He then studied with Hopkinson Smith, and others, at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Switzerland, earning a music-performance MA in 2013, and also winning first prize in the solo lute section of the Maurizio Pratla competition in Italy, in the same year. Ryosuke now gives solo recitals, and collaborates in chamber music, around the world including with his own ensemble, Il bell’humore, which specializes in Renaissance music, and has recorded with Linn Records, UK, and Pan Classics in Switzerland. Listen to Ryosuke Sakamoto

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