On Walsingham Way: An Early English Pilgrimage in Music and Word

Led By: James Ruff
Suggested Donation: $15

Saturday, 30 October 2021, 2.30pm

in the Monastic Church of St. Augustine

A musical exploration of the famous Marian pilgrimage site in Walsingham, England, featuring James Ruff, tenor and Early Gaelic Harp in ballads, poems and music of the three periods of importance to the site: Medieval pilgrimage, Tudor destruction and lamentation, 20th century restoration. A singular journey of devotion with tenor and harpist, James Ruff.

Since 2005, tenor James Ruff has focused his energies on researching and performing both the Early Scottish Gaelic Song and the Early Gaelic Wire Harp repertoires. He currently enjoys presenting concerts of this music at festivals and on music series such as the Scoil na gClairseach: Festival of the Early Irish Harp in Kilkenny, Ireland, Boston Early Music Festival Fringe, Gotham Early Music Scene Midtown Concerts in New York, Beacon Hill Concerts in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, Stone Church Arts Concert Series in Bellows Falls, Vermont, and the Vassar College Concert Series. He has studied Scottish Gaelic Song with award winning Scottish singers Kenna Campbell, Mary Ann Kennedy and Christine Primrose, and early harp techniques with noted Irish harpist Siobhan Armstrong. He has spent three summers studying at the Scoil na gClairseach – Festival of Early Irish Harp (Irishharp.com) in Kilkenny, Ireland – where he also taught from 2017-2019. He enjoyed a month researching & studying early Gaelic Song in Edinburgh and Glasgow in 2012, funded by a grant from Vassar College. In both 2017 and 2016, he won First Place/Men’s Division and Highest Overall Score in Gaelic Song at both the ACGA North Carolina Gaelic Mòd and the U.S. National Gaelic Mòd. He won Second Place in the Silver Pendant Gaelic Song Competition at the 2018 Royal National Mòd in Dunoon, Scotland, having been a finalist in the same competition in 2009. His first CD, The Gaels’ Honour: Early Music for Harp and Voice from Gaelic Scotland and Ireland, was released in December 2018.

Mr. Ruff has received critical praise for his versatile singing on both the concert and operatic stage. He received degrees in voice performance from the University of Southern California (bachelor of music degree, with minor in French) and Boston University (master of music degree, Opera Institute Certificate).

Ruff has served on the music faculties of Smith College, Amherst College, MIT, the University of Connecticut, Emerson College, Longy School of Music, Deerfield Academy and the Walnut Hill School for the Arts. Mr. Ruff currently teaches voice at Vassar College since 2009, and also maintains a private voice and harp studio. He frequently teaches harp at the Scoil na gClairseach – Festival of Early Irish Harp (Irishharp.com) in Kilkenny, Ireland, recently from 2017-2019. He served as Director of Music at Christ the King Episcopal Church in Stone Ridge, New York from 2004-2015.