Harp Opens Doors for Irish Musician Orla Fallon

Rebecca Ross, Pensacola (Florida) News Journal, February 27, 2008

Some musicians credit their golden voices with career success. Others, their blistering guitar riffs.

Orla Fallon, a member of the platinum-selling Irish group Celtic Woman, thanks her lucky harp.

“It’s just opened so many doors for me. Doors that I would never have been let in otherwise,” she said. “I’ve been to so many places and met some lovely people because of my harp.”

Fallon and the other four members of Celtic Woman (Chloë, Máiréad, Lynn Hilary and Alex Sharpe), will perform a mix of traditional Irish songs and contemporary works during their stop at the Pensacola Civic Center on Saturday.

Fallon, who is also known for her ethereal singing voice, said she fell in love with the harp while attending boarding school in Dublin.

“The school had a fabulous harping tradition, and I got really passionate about it there,” said the performer, who hails from the tiny village of Knockananna in Southeast Ireland.

So passionate, in fact, that when a music teacher suggested Fallon buy her own harp, the budding musician was willing to sell her beloved pony in order to order to purchase the instrument.

“It’s a very soothing thing. Even when I was a student, I would go up and practice, and no matter how stressed I was, playing the harp would lift my spirits,” she said.

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Her accomplishments include winning the International Feis Ceoil and International Pan Celtic competitions twice, touring extensively in Europe and the United States, both as a soloist and with groups such as Clannad, Anuna and oboist David Agnew. Her debut album, “The Water is Wide,” won critical acclaim.

Fallon signed on with Celtic Woman for a PBS special, little knowing that it would become a worldwide tour still going strong four years later.

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She is delighted that international audiences have found their own strong connections with the music of Ireland.

“A lot of people say that this music has touched their heart in some way, reached down in their souls,” she said. “Life is so busy and pressurized, running from one thing to the next, that these songs provide a head space for audiences. It’s easy, gentle music to listen to.”

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