Belfast musician left out of work by damage to her harp

Harpist Ursula Burns has told of how she had been left out of work since an accident at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe damaged her harp. Picture by Hugh Russell

NOT a day goes by without Belfast harpist Ursula Burns playing the instrument she learned as a young girl.

But the musician and comedian has told of how she had been left out of work since an accident at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe damaged her prized harp.

The singer/songwriter was left devastated after the instrument was knocked over on stage just three shows into her run of 20 performances at the festival in August.

The back of the harp, which was specially handmade for her in Paraguay, was completely smashed leaving the award-winning musical comedian distraught.

"I left the harp on stage and when I was away, someone jumped off the stage and the reverberations knocked it backwards and the whole back panel was completely smashed," she said.

"I was devastated, I had 17 more shows to do at the festival."

Not one to disappoint, Ms Burns - renowned for her musical-based comedy shows - taped up the back of the harp and continued her run at Edinburgh.

But she has since been forced to cancel future work.

"The tuning wasn't as good by the end of the festival and then I had to start and turn down several gigs in London and Arts Extra because I had no harp," she said.

"The harp is my main source of income and put simply, if I don't have a harp, I can't work.

"I've taken this harp all over the world with me, I always knew I needed a back-up, I knew the fragility of it and this was always my worst nightmare and now it's come true."

Ms Burns, whose first album 'Ursula' was nominated for the Best Female in the Hot Press Awards, was also in the middle of promoting her new album 'The Dangerous Harpist', when the damage occurred.

"It was desperate, the first few weeks when I got home from the festival I was upset," she said.

"It's a massive part of my life, there's not a day goes by when I don't play the harp so to not have it is quite sad. I released my album in May, it was a big investment and very expensive and for this to happen has really set me back.

"My comedy show without a harp, I just couldn't do the show without it."

Since the damage, she has been song-writing to fill her time while she awaits the arrival of a new harp ordered specially from Paraguay, at a cost of £2,700.

"With no income, I actually felt like it was the end of the road, but you have to remain positive," she said.


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