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A Bardic Tale of Changing Seasons on South American Paths – Part 2


A Bardic Tale of Changing Seasons on South American Paths – Part 2 - First Harp Kindlings
(posing with Manolo del Campo at the Spanish Patriotic Society October 1987)
Just in 1982 I came across an album which influenced me a lot because of it´s performer and the instrument performed, I’m refering to ‘Reflets’ by Alan Stivell, and a few months later got the chance to purchase Clannad’s 2nd album...suddenly I-began to yearn for a harp. As I’ve already mentioned, it was hard to find by those days in Argentina, recordings of celtic music.I received much help from the people at Elderly Instruments at Chicago; and from Wendy Newton,founder of the nowadays succesfull label Green Linnet, who gave me the chance to get music and even books on celtic culture.Thanks to Robin and Janet Williamson I established contact with Sylvia Woods (ex-Merry Band harpist) with whom a gentle and richfull info-exchange grows since then. I-recall how anxiously awaited the albums and catalogues on harp I ordered from her own and of Clannad, Stivell, Ball, etc; on behalf of Sylvia contacted another ex-Merry Band: Chris Caswell, and his lovely partner of duet: Danny Carnahan. When I-received the photographs of the harps that Chris made, my desire grew higher... in spite of my lack of money. A kindle sparked within my wondering corky head: why not consider the chance of crafting a celtic harp in Argentina?. I got the chance to meet a harp maker called Ruiz Diaz (he was skilled on crafting the wood, he knew Alfredo Ortiz, but his harps were not secure and either way, were Paraguayan styled) who didn´t accept my offer since he knew nothing of celtic measures. Then I looked forward to Ruben Uballes, who is the only luthier of Pedal Harps down here, he has also developed a model that mingles the mechanic of levers, and the style and tone of the Paraguayan non-pedal harp. Instantly my dreams came true, since he recalled a man who owned a non-pedal harp at the sight of those lovely celtic harps pictured on catalogues. We then began to search for his address, and found he lived 289 miles away... as you may gather, no distance would apart me from her. By a phone call to the owner, I-acknowledged he purchased the harp for his daughter, who wasn´t presently performing on it, and as he was eager for money we sealed the purchase. It is a folk harp with much of celtic patterns in style, it is made by Salvi, a Renaissance model, originally bought at the International Harp Corp. in California by the year 1980. Range: 34 strings; standing height: 49 inches; Max.Width of soundboard: 13 inches; base with optional three legs; built on maple and spruce. I-carried along the harp back home just one day after 1985 Christmas Eve, maybe one of Santa´s considered deliveries... Relatives said I looked strange by those days, with no chance to get asleep nor eat; in fact, I-never imagined I should play harp alone and that was what I-did!.
Later on I begun to write reviews at our local irish monthly local paper ‘The Southern Cross’, and worked to promote activities within irish circles (e.g: performances of Irish theatre by members or not, Irish poetry and prose, data in irish with spanish translation and the establishing of a Branch of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri in Buenos Aires,) unluckily with no response. In 1985 I organized the 2nd Pan-Celtic Festival at a local irish center (the 1st one ever done was held in 1961 by galician and asturians) to which addressed a Galician and a Scottish Piping Band and Dancing Corps, the irish dancers of Celtic Argentina, and Ceolta Gael. On occasion of this festival I-met Manuel del Campo, an asturian inmigrant who had been teaching over 40 years in Argentina dances of Asturias and other regions of Spain. Thanks to him I-not only began to study traditions of this celtic nation so close to Galicia, but also took part of festivals he organized. (For further info on Manolo del Campo please visit
www.almargen.com.ar/sitio/seccion/entrevistas/delcampo/ )
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