Legends of the Celtic Harp | Weaving story & song

May 13 | 7 p.m.
$15 advance | $20 at door
Brewery Arts Center | Carson City, Nev.

Enter the enchanting dream world of Celtic harp through the world-renowned musicianship and master storytelling of Lisa Lynne, Aryeh Frankfurter and Patrick Ball.

“The name of the show is Legends of the Celtic Harp,” says Lynne. “It’s a humorous thing because it’s not that we are the legends. It’s that we play and tell the actual legends of how the Celtic harp traveled through history. We chronicle the fables of how music was used from way back in the medieval era through modern times. There’s mystery and humor in a collection of stories and songs all related to the harp. But it’s not just about the harp, it’s about humanity.”

As professional musicians, storytellers and historians, these traveling entertainers bring a rare opportunity to see classical Celtic instruments performed in a theatrical setting.

“All three of us play the Celtic harp,” Lynne says. “Aryeh and I play a standard harp with nylon strings and Patrick plays a much more rare harp with wire strings. This harp is representative of what was going on in early 14th and 15th century Ireland. With a glassy, jangly, bell-like tone, similar to the way a harpsichord compares to a piano, it’s got more of the jangly, haunting sound to it.”

“The level of rhythmic skill required in playing heavy metal lifts up the folk music to really exiting levels.” – Lisa Lynne

Other atypical instruments the ensemble will play during the performance include two cousins of the mandolin, called the bouzouki, and the cittern. The bouzouki looks like a round guitar but is actually a large mandolin tuned one octave lower. The cittern has 10 strings in an open tuning and is popular in Welsh traditional music. The most unusual instrument of all is called the Swedish nyckelharpa.

“Aryeh has an affinity for it and has definitely shifted his energy into that over the past few years,” says Lynne. “It’s part violin, part hurdy-gurdy with a really beautiful and unique sound.”

Ball is a well-known storyteller with a degree in Irish history. He performs compelling solo entertainment around the world. He joins with Lynne and Frankfurter for special performances whenever possible.

“Patrick is a theatre actor who is very serious and so, so funny,” says Lynne. “He performs history by way of stand-up comedy while Aryeh and I provide the underscore. It’s really very compelling.”

In her youth, Lynne was a heavy-metal bass player in a southern California hair band called Riipshaa and Frankfurter performed progressive rock on electric violin. They discovered the harp separately, but met, collaborated and eventually married through their mutual love of ancient music.

“I learned harp from hanging out with the gypsies at the Renaissance fairs and medieval dances at a time when I was just sort of coming into adulthood,” Lynne says. “I was so impressionable and this was such exciting music that took me back in time. So I picked up the harp, took a year off, saved money and learned it. There is a certain magic to the instrument that carried me along naturally from there.”

Although the ensemble has by now mastered a variety of traditional instruments, their performance is still heavily influenced by the classic rock bands they grew up listening to, such as Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, legends who composed beautiful acoustic music in their own right.

“We came from a side angle, so by the time we reached folk music it invited different arrangements that are unique, fresh and appealing to every demographic,” says Lynne. “The level of rhythmic skill required in playing heavy metal lifts up the folk music to really exiting levels. Being a bass player affects my playing of the harp when I lay into the low end to accentuate that big bottom. It’s all you need to make music that gets right into people and allows them to open up and take in it.”

Those who attend are surely in for some exceptional and memorable entertainment with a fine dose of history and theatre to go with it.

“People are going to experience something very different from what they are expecting,” says Lynne. “They’re going to go on a journey that includes history, humor and uplifting tales of how music has been a part of our culture for centuries. A variety of beautiful music will leave people feeling very satisfied that they’ve experienced many emotions and felt the common links of music throughout mankind.”

To purchase tickets, visit breweryarts.org.