Santa Cruz County Veterans Memorial Building, 846 Front St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 Free Event
Free Event

Celebrating the 350th Birthday of Turlough O’Carolan, Ireland’s Most Famous Composer

A contemporary of J.S. Bach, Turlough O’Carolan (1670-1738) was Ireland’s most famous harper. Though blinded by smallpox at age 18, a patron gave him a harp, a horse and a guide, and he supported himself for 50 years as an itinerant harpist, becoming the most famous of all Celtic composers. O’Carolan composed in part by improvising, his works transcribed by others. The melodic lines that have come down often run through an ornate chordal harp texture. To play the tunes, musicians must decide suitable tempos, rhythms, harmonies, textures, and ornaments—and, like O’Carolan, never repeat anything exactly. His music includes the most joyous tunes in the entire ‘6 Celtic Nations’ repertoire as well as airs of extraordinary melancholy. 

This event features the following musicians:

Linda Burman-Hall, Director, harpsichord
Shelley Phillips, harp Baroque oboes, folk flutes
William Coulter, guitar, bodhrán (drum)
Robin Petrie, hammered dulcimer
Deby Benton Grosjean, traditional fiddle, Baroque violin
John Weed, fiddle
Barry Phillips, ‘cello

This project is supported by UC Santa Cruz, in honor of Linda Burman-Hall’s award of an Edward A. Dickson Emerita Professorship (2019-2023). The performance will be eventually released as a CD recording. The event team extends thanks to UCSC Emeriti Associates, the Committee on Emeriti Relations, the Vice Chancellor, Chancellor, UCSC Endowments, and the Music Department for support.


  • Free and open to the public.
  • Tickets are required for entry and are available here at
  • Maximum 3 tickets available for purchase per individual/transaction.
  • Tickets are available online only and there will be no sales window or will-call tickets for pick up at the event.
  • Audience members who do not arrive by 2:50 p.m. (10 minutes prior to the advertised start time), may forfeit their tickets/seats.
  • Doors are scheduled to open at 2:45 p.m., approximately 15 minutes prior to event start time (previously advertised as 2:30 p.m. but adjusted to allow time for dulcimer and harp tuning).
  • Masks are strongly encouraged but not required.


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  • Maki Matsumura

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