Celtic Harp Orchestra

4 min readMar 30, 2021


Founded in 2002 by Fabius Constable, The Celtic Harp Orchestra is a musical formation composed primarily of lever harps, or Celtic harps, as they are commonly known, alongside other instruments such as cello, violin, flute, accordion, guitar, bass, drums, soprano voice and choir. The musicians form an interesting and harmonious heterogeneous group, aged between 17 and 60 years. In full, the formation numbers 16 harpists, 12 of whom are women. An important role in characterizing the sound of Celtic Harp Orchestra goes to the voice of soprano Donatella Bortone who joined the orchestra in 2003. CHO is considered the largest celtic harp orchestra in Europe.

On July 4th, 2002, during the international festival of art, culture and music, ‘Celtica’, on a stage set up in the woods of Peuterey, at the foot of Mont Blanc, a group called Harpe Diem performed for the first time. It was an extemporized formation of 44 harpists of all levels, from beginners, to internationally acclaimed musicians, such as Briton Myrdhin, who had accepted the invitation of Fabius Constable to play harp together with him. The concert was held in front of 4000 people. This first success was the beginning of the history of Celtic Harp Orchestra. A repertoire, initially composed of ancient melodies and traditional Irish music, was selected and the orchestra began to rehearse and perform together.

Since then, Celtic Harp Orchestra has given many concerts in Italy (at Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome, in various conservatories and universities, including Bocconi, the Compagnia Humanitaria in Milan, Villa Erba, Villa Olmo Villa Balbianello on Lake Como, Vittoriale degli Italiani, the festival Mi.To., the Duomo Cathedral of Milan, Teatro Sociale of Como), and abroad with gigs in Spain, Switzerland, France, Ireland (at Trinity College in Dublin), Greece, Germany, Britain, China, Latvia, Japan and Korea. Alongside touring, an intensive recording activity has led to the release of 5 albums.

CHO has worked with notorious artists and personalities such as Andrea Bocelli, Tadao Ando, Carlos Nunez and many others. On June 2nd 2013 Fabius Constable and the Celtic Harp Orchestra were awarded the highly prized ‘President of the Italian Republic Representative Medal’ by Giorgio Napolitano (president of Italy 2006–2015).


The CHO catalogue on Spotify

‘Fir Soar: Keltic’ (2001)

Although at the time not credited as a work of the CHO, this release can be considered the inception of its musical world and will be re-released by Ignorelands during 2017, credited fully as being by Fabius Constable and the Celtic Harp Orchestra.

‘Got the Magic’ (2003)

Released in 2003 — a ‘live concert without an audience’ album, engineered by Svana Sound Recordings at Rocca Brivio Sforza, a seventeenth century villa, not far from Milan.

‘The Myst’ (2005)

Represented an expression of musical and personal evolution of the group. It was the first real session in a recording studio for the orchestra. With the cooperation of nearly 40 musicians, including guest stars, it required over 200 hours of hard work at Suonovivo Studios, near Bergamo.

‘Tale of the Fourth’ (2008)

A concept album related to the Fibonacci sequence of numbers. It represents a change in musical style, as some of the new tracks were composed whilst touring the Far East and later rearranged with the addition of a rock trio: electric guitar, bass guitar and drums. This recording session was held at Auditoria Records, near Como, paving the way for the lasting collaboration with producer Aki Chindamo. An experiment that was worth the nomination of ‘Best Album’ and ‘Best Recording’ at the Prog Academy Awards that year.

‘Three Letters to the Moon’ (2010)

Intense touring over the next two years gave birth to this album. The first part of the CD, ‘Letter From The Sleeper’ contains solo compositions by Fabius Constable. It emphasizes a more intimate and reflective style, with influences from Japanese, North African and Celtic music. The second part ‘Letter From The Dreamers’ presents the full orchestra, together with the choir and the rock trio, as previously explored in ‘Tale of the Fourth’. New compositions are found in the ‘Letter From Inferno’ — never recorded before, but often performed during live shows, with enthusiastic response from the audience — they form part of the ‘Dante’s Dream Project’ by Fabius Constable and Donatella Bortone, in which poems taken from Dante’s Inferno were set to music.

‘Three Letters from the Sun’ (2014)

In this second chapter, following ‘Three letters To The Moon’, the atmosphere is brighter, more lively, featuring tango and habaneras, together with traditional Celtic songs.This CD also is structured in three parts: the noon, the sunset and the dawn. Guest stars include Willi Burger, Flaviano Cuffari and Milo Molteni.

‘The Origins Collection’ (2017)

A collection of CHO tracks from the first four albums, cherry picked by Fabius Constable himself.

‘This world and other unearthly things’ (2017)

The new album closes, ideally, the trilogy begun with “Three letters to the moon” and continued with “Three letters to the sun”. Almost a treatise on the inscrutable motions that move us, and on the realities (tangible but ephemeral) that surround us. A special mention for NASA’s appreciation to the music of the planets. The listener will go through stormy seas under the guidance of a captain who will lead him/her to quiet shores…

‘The Origins Collected’ (2018)

A collection of the integral first four CHO albums — only digital edition, at a special price.

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