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.
Nothing seems to reconcile Glasgow, the economic capital of Scotland, with Edinburgh, political capital of the country. The two main cities of the Scottish belt stare at, tease and respect each other like porcelain dogs that nothing can bring together. Even the M8 – the motorway between the two cities – increases the differences between them: a logical bypass in Edinburgh, an amputation and stretch of the highway straight into the heart of Glasgow. The tone is set: since the first one prides itself for having an old city classified as World heritage for humanity, the official line for Glasgow will be "the most modern city in Europe" thanks to another – but this one infamous – Robert Bruce1 and his city restructuring plan.
I thank the association Dastum for having published my article in the Musique Bretonne magazine, 227, July 2011, which mentioned my experience as a Celtic harp teacher in Glasgow City Council’s schools, Scotland, during 2008 until the end of 2012.
I arrived in Glasgow four years ago. At this time, my stay was only part-time and I decided to stay longer when I got an offer to take over after a Celtic harp teacher within Glasgow City Council’s schools. Employed just for few months, my contract has then been renewed until the beginning of this year when I signed a part-time permanent contract. Thanks to this professional experience, I discovered a system of teaching music, very different from other countries such as France for example. There is more than one reason to explain it but the most obvious is the system itself: in France, music is taught mainly in music schools – a specific institution – whereas, in Scotland, it is taught in primary or secondary schools.