The Clarsach is the ancient word for the small (non-pedal) harp, the oldest of Scotland's traditional instruments. This gentle instrument was once so prized by royalty that harpers were kept on staff to play for social occasions such as poetry readings, as well as affairs of state, such as a coronation. Regrettably, as the ranks of the nobility declined, harpers became itinerant musicians, going from town to town paying whenever they could find an audience. later, British rulers would try to band the harp, leading it to the edge of extinction. But then, at the turn of the 20th century, beginning in Scotland, Ireland, and North America, there was renewed interest in the Clarsach. By the 1970s, interest in the history, music, musicians, and technique of the Clarsach brought multiple aspects of the ancient instrument to the forefront, where we celebrate it today. Now the Clarsach is not limited to royalty or angles, it is enjoyed in concerts, afternoon teas, weddings, and it has proven to provide healing therapy.
We are proud to be a part of the is history and proud to support a new generation of harpers.
About the Judge
Martha Geouge Hill
A native of the North Carolina Mountains, Martha grew up in a very musical family. She began study of the piano at age 7, organ at age 13, and completed her BM and MM degrees at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She obtained her Ed.D. degree at Columbia University in New York City.
Martha completed a career in North Carolina public education before retiring in 2013. She taught middle/high school choral music for 10 years before moving into various roles in educational administration - curriculum specialist, principal, director, and superintendent.
During her years in public school education, she remained heavily involved in accompanying vocal and instrumental soloists/ensembles; playing chamber music; singing in the Hickory Choral Society; and serving as a church organist. Following her Scots-Irish roots, Martha developed a great love of the Celtic harp during her husband’s involvement in the Scottish Highland Games.
Martha’s passion for the harp has grown and evolved over the years. Currently, she performs with the Celtic trio, Stone’s Throw. She is a member of the Blue Mountain Harpers in Asheville, North Carolina, and toured northeast Scotland in May, 2019 and in April, 2023 with the ensemble, Harpa. She also composes and arranges for the Celtic harp and for Stone’s Throw. In April, 2023 she performed by special invitation at the Edinburgh International Harp Festival with Harpa.
In 2017, Martha won the harp competition at the Scotland County, NC Highland Games, and was awarded the Princess Margaret of the Isles Memorial Prize for Best Senior Clarsach Player by the Clan Donald Trust. In July, 2018, she also won the Master level harp competition at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, and in July, 2019, was awarded the Adult Prodigy Award. Stone’s Throw won the top award in 2018 and 2019 for the “Harp in Ensemble” at the Grandfather Mountain competition. She is a member of the Scottish Harp Society in America, and a certified judge of SHSA sanctioned harp competitions.
Martha resides between Hickory and Todd, North Carolina with her husband, Ben. They are the parents of two adult daughters, Rebecca and Elizabeth, and her Siamese cat, Fingal, and rescued English Bulldog, Harley Quinn.