Retiring early from a specialised medical career, the Irishman Derek Ball can now devote himself full-time to composition. His repertoire includes solo instruments pieces, chamber music (like his Songs and Stories of Caílte's Time for Celtic harp and speaker, created by Anne-Marie O'Farrell and Séamus mac Gabhan) as well as larger works for symphonic orchestra and operas. Particularly present on the Irish contemporary music scene, his music has been programmed by the RTÉ Symphony Orchestra, the Dublin Symphony Orchestra and performed in the United-States. Derek Ball is a composer who does not hesitate to combine the Celtic harp with any kind of other instruments, voice and even computer.
Surprisingly, the great composer and conductor Gustav Mahler (1860-1911), who’s works – such as the well-known Adagietto of the 5th symphony – are considered among the most beautiful pages of the pedal harp music, actually did hear of the Celtic harp during his life. However unlikely that, in the 19th century, the Austrian composer would have had the opportunity to see – and even less hear – the harp of the bards, he couldn’t ignore the existence of such an instrument. (more…)