Midsummer Harps Course

The London & South-East Branch of the Clarsach Society organises a residential weekend each year in June.

This year’s course runs from Friday June 22nd – Sunday June 24th 2018, and will be held at Belsey Bridge Conference Centre, on the Norfolk/Suffolk border.

The Course

All ages and standards welcome, other than complete beginners. The course is intended to stimulate interest and enthusiasm for the non-pedal harp in a relaxed and informal atmosphere.

Arrival will be from 4pm on the Friday, and the course ends at 4pm on the Sunday.

Teaching will be in small groups. Course attendees will be divided into two groups, according to playing experience, and each group will have a number of teaching sessions with each of the tutors.  A detailed timetable will be available at the start of the course.  Where appropriate/applicable music will be sent in advance. There will be opportunities for informal playing on the Saturday evening.  The branch AGM will also take place during the weekend.


The course fees are £260 for Clarsach Society members, £295 for non members.

This includes all tuition, residential accommodation and meals.

Please contact us for non-residential fees or fees for non players.


The venue for the course is Belsey Bridge Conference Centre, on the Norfolk / Suffolk border.  Belsey Bridge offers a relaxed, peaceful and quiet environment within a rural setting. The older part of the centre was built in 1863 as a girls’ boarding school, subsequently converted into a conference centre and substantially refurbished. All the bedrooms allocated to our course are single ensuite rooms. The Centre is well known for the excellent quality of its food, and vegetarian and other diets can be catered for.  For more information see the website.


This year we are pleased to welcome Jean Altshuler and Fraya Thomsen as our tutors.

Jean Altshuler studied the harp at Oberlin Conservatory and the University of Iowa.  She played with the Oklahoma City Symphony orchestra, and in Nashville and then became harpist in San Antonio, where she stayed for twenty-five years before discovering the Lake District and moving to Keswick.

Since moving to the UK she has found a great wealth of Celtic music to explore, and continues to play and teach.  She is a member of Harps North-West which puts on workshops, beginners’ courses, concerts and a festival.

A new interest for Jean has been arranging music from Eastern and Central Europe and early music for harp, and she will be teaching some of her arrangements of Polish lute tunes at this year’s course.

Jean also performs with classical guitarist Ed Heslam, and together they have produced a CD.

Fraya Thomsen is an internationally renowned clarsair, vocalist and composer who holds an MA in Composing for Film from the NFTS and a BA (Hons) in Scottish Music from the RCS. In February 2017 she presented her New Voices commission Community and Stardust at Celtic Connections. She has won awards for her film composition and has composed music for live performance, dance and art installations.

Her Scottish harp and song duo The Duplets have released two albums to critical acclaim. Fraya was the musician in residence at Feis Rois in 2011/12 and published three harp tuition books with Taigh Na Teud.  Her compositions have been included in the Scottish music grade exams, the Royal National Mod syllabus and Trinity Harp Syllabus.

Fraya will be teaching traditional and modern Scottish music at this year’s course.


A booking form can be downloaded here.

More Information

Please contact us if you have any questions about the course, or want to know about the possibility of hiring a harp for the course.