‘This is what I need to do’ – Harpist brings live music via online concerts

Aisling Ennis, a 37-year-old harpist, wants to unite friends, families and strangers.

Harpist Aisling Ennis
Harpist Aisling Ennis

A harpist has been bringing the sound of live music into people’s homes and uniting friends, family and strangers through a weekly Zoom event.

Aisling Ennis has been entertaining hundreds of people over a series of online concerts during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Pensioners in nursing homes and their family members join together online to watch the 37-year-old harpist every Thursday morning.

Many others also listen to the hour-long Zoom event, including a number of people living in direct provision centres.

The final concert each month is in aid of Msizi Africa, a charity responsible for serving over three million meals to children in Africa.

“This year has been so hard for so many people. 99% of people in the entertainment industry have been left without work,” Ms Ennis said.

“At a certain point during lockdown I figured this is what I need to do. I kept asking myself: ‘How can I be of service during Covid-19?’ And all I kept thinking was that I had my harp.

“One of the most important things is that it’s uplifting for people.

“I hated the idea of cocooners on their own or anyone in isolation. What is nice about the events is that it has found its family.

“Each person is welcome to request a song and, if they want, to say why they chose it while others watch just to hear the music.

“Some nursing homes are also joining in and their families, who can’t visit them, are also joining in.”

Harpist Aisling Ennis
Aisling Ennis (Niall Carson/PA)

She added: “It’s not the same as being in a beautiful acoustic venue and sharing a concert experience. But, in another way, it provides a level of connectiveness that you can’t get at a concert because you can see people’s faces as they listen to the music.

“It’s been a nice way to stay connected with an audience and the community, and it’s a nice thing for people who may be feeling isolated with all the restrictions.”

The Harp O’Clock event costs only 5 euro, or 10 euro for those who can contribute more.

Ms Ennis has travelled the world playing to thousands of people in hundreds of venues.

She played to Queen Elizabeth II when she visited the Aras an Uachtarain during her four-day state visit to Ireland in 2011.

Ms Ennis has also felt the impact of Covid-19 following the death of her uncle in April.

“He was in his 80s, and my aunt and cousins all had Covid,” she said.

“To see what they went through was very surreal. Covid has long-lasting effects and has had a daily impact on so many families.”

Ms Ennis, who has been performing since she was six years old, said her work as a harpist came to an abrupt end when the first lockdown was introduced in March.

“All of the gigs and all of the tours – everything that was planned for 2020 and 2021 – went in a flash, in a tsunami of surreal disappointment,” she said.

“It’s been a very strange year coming to terms with that. While some aspects have been so challenging, there have been some strange blessings with things slowing down and spending more time with family.”

Further information can be found at aislingennis.com/harp-oclock-concerts.html

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