Celtic harp meets viola da gamba in concert


The Black Mountain Center for the Arts is hosting Duo Galilei, a concert featuring award-winning Celtic harpist Sue Richards and Carolyn Surrick, master of the viola da gamba on April 9. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. concert are $15 plus tax and can be purchased by calling 669-0930 or at BlackMountainArts.org.

Richards and Surrick have been playing together for almost 30 years. Both are members of Ensemble Galilei, a Celtic/early music crossover group that Surrick founded in 1990. The group has toured the U.S., recorded 15 CDs and has created four theatrical projects, including a partnership with National Geographic and a collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The two have also played weekly at Walter Reed Medical Complex in Washington, D.C., soothing the wounded men and women living and recovering there.

The concert will focus on Scottish, Irish, Scandinavian and original music. Come prepared to enjoy airs, jigs, reels and hornpipes in abundance.

“Though the two instruments are mellow, we won’t be playing Bach or Beethoven,” Richards said. “It should be a lovely night of delightful music.”

Celtic harp has become popular in recent years, and Richards specializes in Irish, Scottish, and Scandinavian music. The harp is half the size of a concert harp but is played similarly. Richards, who recently moved to the Asheville area, studied concert harp at Oberlin College before turning to the smaller Celtic harp. She conducts private lessons at the Black Mountain Center for the Arts on Tuesdays.

Surrick has played viola da gamba for 40 years. The instrument, extremely popular in the 16th and 17th centuries, is a bowed, stringed instrument that is the size a cello (but moveable frets and seven strings instead of four).

Surrick specialized in early music until she was schooled by Richards. Surrick earned an MA in musicology from George Washington University. She refers to herself as the “navigatrix” of Ensemble Galilei. She writes poetry and has published two books, one of them about the men and women she and Richards met at Walter Reed.

The Black Mountain Center for the Arts is at 225 W. State St. For more, visit BlackMountainArts.org or call 669-0930.