Cynthia Cathcart is an expert on the Clàrsach, the wirestrung 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 prestigious awards, including twotime 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 PenningtonGrey Award for service to the wirestrung harp. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music in Piano Performance from Hood College, where she studied under the worldrenowned pianist Noel Lester.
Cynthia began her harp career quite by accident, when she inherited a wirestrung 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. Kenneth was able to play his Scottish songs on those strings. Sadly, he passed away a few years later, and the family decided that Cynthia should inherit the harp as she was the musician in the family. It arrived at her door in the back of her brothers pickup truck!
After dusting off sad years of neglect that had gathered on the harp, she began to teach herself how to play. Or, more to the truth, the harp began to teach Cynthia with that mystical voice an instrument employs when it finds a musician destined to play it. The fit was natural, as were Cynthias abilities to research and rediscover the repertoire and the authentic technique of playing the wire strung harp with the fingernails. Her rapid climb to being counted among the foremost players of the Clàrsach is but an extension on her firm foundation as a formally trained pianist and organist.
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.