Toad Lane Concerts: Rascallity Harp Duo

Date published: 08 July 2024

To hear a solo concert harp live is a rare thing. To hear a pair of them is extraordinary. Fortunately, these two first rate musicians have made several appearances at Toad Lane Concerts since they formed this duo as students at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM). The acoustics in St Mary in the Baum Church are ideal, allowing soft and delicate playing to project as well as loud, and incorporate singing and extra percussive sounds.

Alice Roberts (pictured above right) graduated first-class from the joint course of Manchester University, where she gained awards for the highest mark in 2016 and 2018; and the RNCM where in 2020 she became the first harpist to win the Gold Medal.

Soloist and teacher Kathryn Mason similarly gained a first-class BMus and a master’s from the RNCM. Both are now freelancers and play solo and with a wide variety of ensembles, orchestras and groups in many assorted styles and genres. Variety certainly seems to be the spice of their lives.


Rascallity Harp Duo


Their individual skills and unique duo sound embraced modern jazz folk, the classical composer Yiruma, Scottish and Irish traditional tunes as well as contemporary hypnotic works by Monika Stadler.

‘John R’ by Dorothy Ashby was interesting as the duo’s name ‘Rascallity’ is so named (and spelt) after a famous number by this ground-breaking American jazz harpist of the 1950s.

The celestial duo included ‘Lethe, River of Forgetfulness’ a haunting original composition by Alice that incorporated celestial singing very effectively. They ended with a swing with her arrangement of the well-known ‘Caravan’ by Duke Ellington and Juan Tizol. A real toe-tapping slinky number.

The audience were clearly thrilled with the unusual and consistent beauty of tone.

One harp is heavenly, two divine - a celestial duo indeed.

The Queen’s Award-winning Toad Lane Concerts are every Wednesday at 12.30pm at St Mary in the Baum, Toad Lane, Rochdale, OL16 1DZ. Entrance fee is £6. No refreshments available. Contact 01706 648872 for further information.

To see details of forthcoming Toad Lane Concerts, click here.

Dr Joe Dawson

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