Eimear McDonagh

Eimear McDonagh

Concert Harp

Irish         Age: 23

Domenico Scarlatti
Sonata K113 in A Major

Paul Hindemith
Sonate für Harfe: II. Lebhaft

Deirdre McKay
“Indigo” and “Spring Rain” from “A Pale Yellow Sky”

Jacques De La Presle
“Le Jardin Mouillé”

Eimear McDonagh began her harp studies at age 11 with Denise Kelly McDonnell at TU Dublin Conservatoire and has just completed her Bachelor of Music degree in performance. She has been a prize winner at many competitions including Feis Ceoil, Wales International Harp Festival, Camac London Harp Festival and Concours Français de la Harpe. Eimear was previously principal harp with The National Youth Orchestra of Ireland and Esker Festival Orchestra, she is currently the principal harp with the Fleischman Orchestra under the direction of Keith Pascoe. In May 2022 she performed the Mozart Flute and Harp Concerto with the Fleischman Orchestra, as well as playing solo concerts in the St Annes concert series and at the Academies Internationales Du Grand Paris. In 2023 she performed in the premiere of Sam Perkin’s harp trio “For Three Lever Harps” at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival. She has taken part in masterclasses with Elizabeth Hainen, Isabelle Perrin, Fabrice Pierre, Agnes Clement, Anne-Sophie Betrand and with Krysztof Chorzelski from the Belcea Quartet as part of the National Concert Hall chamber music festival. In 2025 she plans to undertake postgraduate studies abroad.
Programme Notes

The harp is a uniquely versatile instrument. I have chosen this programme to present many of its expressive and tonal qualities. While the modern fully chromatic harp was not perfected technically until the beginning of the 20th century, it was a popular instrument from the late 17th century. The earliest work in this programme is a transcription of a keyboard sonata by Scarlatti, the most recent are a series of beautiful miniatures written by Deirdre McKay in 2005. Between these are works that form part of the harp core repertoire from the late romantic through the impressionist period to modernism.

Domenico Scarlatti Sonata K113 in A Major
Domenico Scarlatti was born in Naples but spent much of his life in the service of the Portuguese and Spanish royal families. Most of Scarlatti’s keyboard sonatas were intended for harpsichord which is similar to the tone and resonance of the harp. Sonata in A Major, K 113 is a lively toccata-like work mostly in two voices. Following an emphatic introduction that uses strong contrasts in dynamic levels, the main theme, a lively triadic motif is introduced. This motif is constantly tossed between both parts as the work develops. A formal device is audible in this sonata is called ‘the crux’, in which each half of the sonata leads to a pivotal point which is sometimes underlined by a pause or fermata. This makes more use of the repetitive figurations as it modulates away from the home key (in the first half) or back to the home key (in the second half).

Paul Hindemith Sonate für Harfe: II Lebhaft
Hindemith’s Sonata for Harp is a three movement work composed in 1939 and only received its first performance in 1949. It rapidly gained popularity and has become a core part of the harp repertoire. The second movement is an energetic scherzo with a strong dance-like quality in its outer sections. The middle section is more lyrical but maintains a sense of momentum throughout. The sonata is inspired by the poem “Lied” by the German 18th century poet Ludwig Holty. While the mood of the poem is elegiac the final stanza contains an image of children running about the churchyard which Hindemith noted is the main inspiration for this movement.

2 Excerpts from Deirdre McKay’s “A Pale Yellow Sky”: “Indigo” and “Spring Rain”
This set of pieces were written for Clı́ona Doris for a collaboration between Deirdre McKay and the visual artist Jean Duncan. The source of inspiration was a series of haiku. Duncan says “Working in close collaboration with Deirdre McKay, with the haiku texts between us, it became clear that both of our media used the same vocabulary, balance, colour, timbre, tone, texture and harmony- while reflecting our separate approaches to the individual poems. It is considered that poetry, drama and music are far closer to one another in the east than west. In a “no’ play movement represents stillness which is not immobility but a perfect balance of opposing forces”.
A barrel of indigo,
Poured out and flowing: “Indigo”
The spring river.
Spring rain;
It begins to darken; “Spring Rain”
Today also is over.

Jacques De La Presle ”Le Jardin Mouillé”
Jacques De La Presle (1888-1969) was a French composer and teacher. He taught at Paris Conservatoire from 1937-11958, his students included Antoine Duhamel, Maurice Jarre and André Mathieu. “Le Jardin Mouillé” is an early work inspired by a poem of the same name by the French poet Henri de Régnier. The work is written in an impressionistic style showing the influence of contemporary composers especially Debussy. The piece opens with harmonic passages suggesting the falling of raindrops on the plants in the garden against contrasting double glissandi suggesting the magical atmosphere of the poem. The work is essentially a series of free variations based on the falling raindrop motif from the start. The work was published in 1913 and dedicated to the celebrated French harpist Marcel Grandjany.