Cynthia Cathcart

The Artist

photograph of Cynthia

Cynthia Cathcart is an expert on the Clàrsach, the wire strung harp of Scotland and Ireland. Performing and teaching internationally, she is a leader in a new wave of interest in this rare instrument. Based near Washington, DC, Cynthia represents Ardival Harps of Strathpeffer, Scotland and is their North American Artist in Residence.

Cynthia is a recording artist, and the author of several books for the Clàrsach. She holds a number of awards, including two–time U.S. National Scottish Harp Master Champion, three time winner of the Clan Lamont Trophy (in Virginia, Texas and Ohio), and holder of the Jan Pennington–Grey Award for service to the wire strung harp. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music in Piano Performance from Hood College, where she studied under the internationally recognized pianist Noel Lester.

Cynthia began her harp career quite by accident, when she inherited a wire strung harp from her stepfather. Kenneth was a performer on the Great Highland Bagpipes, but a heart condition took away the necessary stamina for that instrument. Cynthia‘s mother bought a harp for him at a craft fair, a harp strung with metal strings, on which he played his beloved Scottish tunes. Sadly, he passed away a few years later. The family decided that Cynthia should inherit his harp since she was the musician in the family. The harp arrived at her door in the back of her brother‘s pick–up truck!

After dusting off sad years of neglect that had gathered on the harp, Cynthia began to teach herself how to play. Or, more to the truth, the harp began to teach her with that mystical voice an instrument employs when it finds a musician destined to play it. The fit was natural, as were Cynthia‘s abilities to research and discover the history and music of the wire strung harp.

A concert reviewer once wrote, “When Cynthia began her portion of the program I had the impression of fine china. Very satisfying sound! I really liked the way her pieces flowed from one to the other, and the stories she told, partly in words, partly with her instruments.”

© 2013 Cynthia Cathcart
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