Cynthia Douglass
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Cynthia Douglass

Band World Celtic


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With her cascade of red curls and Scottish surname, harpist Cynthia Douglass could have stepped out from the pages of a book of Celtic fairy tales. But the inspiration for her mystical music has surprising roots in a different world: the Middle East where she was raised.

Cynthia was an adult before she learned that her father, a career foreign service officer, was in reality an anti-terrorist agent for the CIA. “My father was fluent in Arabic and one of four agency experts in his field,” she relates. “I was born in Lebanon, and my family moved around the region every few years. For me, the Middle Eastern culture represented home. This background made me want to be, like my father, part of the peace process.”

Following in her father’s footsteps as a student of International Economics and Arabic Studies at Georgetown and the American University in Cairo, Douglass credits the influence of her maternal grandfather for her passion for music. The conductor of the San Antonio Symphony, he imparted the profound importance of “playing from the heart.”

Cynthia played clarinet with the Arlington Symphony and the Washington, D.C. Baroque Chamber Orchestra before meeting her muse in the Celtic harp. “My family is Scottish and Irish, and I knew the first time I picked up a harp that it had been in my blood for a very long time. The harp stirred my Celtic roots.”

A composer, performer, and teacher, Cynthia has recorded 10 solo and three sampler albums, covering a stylistic gamut from classical and Celtic music to lullabies, love songs, hymns, and holiday melodies. Of the wide variety of venues where she has appeared, Cynthia is touched by the solace that her music provides at funerals, a setting in which “the harp allows people to cry.”

She lectures at medical centers on the effects of harp music on human physiology and regularly shares her deeply spiritual music with cancer patients. “I feel that God is working through me,” she says of her work with the terminally ill, her concert for tsunami relief, and the donation of the proceeds from her latest CD to hurricane victims. “I’m just one of His soldiers working the line.”

Douglass describes herself as “humbled and amazed” by the impact her music has on listeners. At the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair she was approached by a young soldier who related what her sounds have meant to American troops in Iraq and by a cancer patient who said, “Your music gets me through the nights.”

“The harp itself is magical and ethereal,” she explains. “The entire instrument resonates with every chord, creating a beautiful, harmonic cloud of sound.” Because the Celtic harp, which originated in the Middle East and arrived in the British Isles with ancient traders, is lighter in weight than classic pedal harps, Cynthia can easily travel to play her message of hope for peace in the Middle East. On a visit to her husband’s family in Beirut, she performed before ambassadors from around the world and also played in bombed-out churches. “Because of the civil war everyone there has lost someone,” she relates. “There is so much grief on their hearts.”

Ties to the Middle East transcend her childhood there. Cynthia met her husband Ed, a Lebanese neurologist who was born in Cairo, while playing the harp as a “busker” in a San Diego park. She performs in Birmingham with Zivah Saphirah, a Middle Eastern dance troupe, furthering her conviction that “music opens dialogue.”

“I am in a unique position with a great advantage for altering points of view based on fear, misunderstanding, and misinformation,” she continues. “Working for peace, as my dad did, is my legacy and my mission. The best part I can play in the peace process is to facilitate serenity through my music. Peace starts in one’s heart, then in the family, then in one’s own neighborhood, then between nations.” - Portico Magazine, 12/05, Birmingham, AL


Description of Recordings:

Angelic Noel      
Cynthia's Christmas release for solo harp begins with her own original celebration of the season, a joyful and playful tune about children dancing around the Christmas tree. She combines sacred classical selections with traditional Christmas songs, and adds a few seasonal selections from France and Ireland. Selections include Around the Tree; Holly and the Ivy; Garton Mother's Lullaby; Christ Child's Lullaby; Silent Night; Away in the Manger; I Saw Three Ships; We Three Kings; The First Noel; Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring; What Child Is This; Lo, How a Rose is Blooming; Bring a Torch, Jeannette Isabella; O Come, O Come, Emmanuel; Carol of the Bells; Jesus Christ Our Lord; Quel Beau Parfum; O Come All Ye Faithful.

An Open Heart    
This lovely recording features the Celtic harp, with Cynthia also playing renaissance recorders and the American Indian flute on some selections. An Open Heart showcases a number of Cynthia's original compositions; her two favorite classical pieces, and Celtic favorites. Selections include: Canon in D; Waves of Bliss; An Open Heart; Air: The High Mountains; I Love My Love in the Evening; The Ash Grove; Indian Sunrise; Eye of Happiness; For My Beloved; A Song for Mary; Young Catherine; Scarborough Fair; Balboa Park Bells; Woodycock; Dance of the Leprechauns; Rejoice!; and Pavane.

Blessed Spirit     
Cynthia applies her unique style to the sacred hymns of the Christian world. Selections include: Hymn of Promise; Blessed Spirit of My Life; Amazing Grace; In the Garden; Sweet Hour of Prayer; Sweet, Sweet Spirit; My Shepherd Will Supply My Need; Rock of Ages; A Mighty Fortress Is Our God; Be Thou My Vision; Great Is Thy Faithfulness; Abide With Me; Jesus Loves Me; How Great Thou Art; The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, Is Ended; and Doxology (Amen).

Breakin' Out      
This contemporary collage features Cynthiaís original compositions for harp, keyboards, woodwinds, and nature sounds.  From a romantic French love song to an Indian raga, from a jazzy playful tune about street performers to a blend of Arabic and Celtic idioms in the same song, the recording offers the wide variety of genres that Cynthia Douglass has become famous for.  Her international upbringing shows through in this cd, and her interest in many cultures is reflected in the exciting variety of themes and instrumentation.  From Indian flute to pennywhistle, from sitar to Amazonian birds, each selection offers surprises that will delight and fascinate the discerning listener.  Selections include: The Last Warrior, Le Rivage, Lubnan, In the Forest, Raga'ish, Street Magic, Springtime in Mountain Brook, and Winter into Spring.

Bridge Across Eternity   
Bridge Across Eternity exemplifies the range of passion Cynthia brings to her musical recording. This predominately classical album features Cynthia on the Celtic harp, with a rich accompaniment by her and her friends heard on woodwinds and bowed strings. Selections include: Sheep May Safely Graze ; Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring; Simple Gifts; O'Carolan's Draught; Sinfonia ; Innsbruck, I Must Leave Thee; Venetian Dance; Gymnopedie #3; Primavera; Ocean Waves; Ave Maria; Lauda; Fur Elise; Belle Qui Tiens Ma Vie; and Ascension.

Celtic Magic       
Celtic Magic presents Cynthiaís expertise in Celtic music.  All tunes are traditional Scottish and Irish, and she is joined by the Irish flute, bodhran, fiddle, and guitar.  Some selections are lovely and slow, others sprightly and fast. You will feel transported to the Celtic islands as Cynthia weaves a tale of mystery and magic through her nimble fingers on the harp.  Selections include:  Sheebeg and Sheemore,Down By Sally Gardens, O'Carolan's Concerto, Banks of Loch Lomond, Lord of the Dance,Stirling Castle,Musical Priest,Drowsy Maggie,O'Carolan's Dream, Jack Broke Down the Prison Door, She Moved the Fair,O'Carolan's Welcome, Morrison's Jig, Last Night's Joy, Matt Maloy's Reel, and many more!

Love's Garden    
Love's Garden emphasizes the romantic magic in this blend of contemporary and traditional love songs. Selections include movie themes and traditional favorites. The purpose of this album, Cynthia says, is "to cultivate the garden of love within us all." Selections include: Somewhere in Time; Music of the Night; All I Ask of You; Love's Garden; Through the Eyes of Love; O Danny Boy; Edelweiss; The Town I Loved So Well ; Wind Beneath My Wings; Unchained Melody; Until the Last Day of Forever; The Rose; Foggy Dew; Gratitude; and Amazing Grace.

Lullabies for the Wee Folk   
Soothing lullabies for solo Celtic harp to calm your little ones.  A perfect gift for new arrivals and for young children to aid them in their sleep.  Selections include:  Brahms Lullaby, Dona Nobis Pacem, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, You Are My Sunshine, Puff, the Magic Dragon, Rock A Bye Baby, Golden Slumbers, O How Lovely the Evening, Touch of the Master’s Hand, Hush, Little Baby,  Cock



Raised in the Middle East, I retreated from my turbulent surroundings through music. After twenty years of classical training on violin, clarinet and renaissance recorders, I feel my most important musical lesson (from my grandfather) was learning to play "from the heart." The Celtic harp is my favorite instrument because of the rich harmonies it creates, the musical way it links the divine and the earthly realms, and the serenity and peace it brings to many of my listeners.

While I studied for a brief time at Oberlin Conservatory, music became a hobby for me while pursuing other interesting subjects in college. I completed my undergraduate studies at Georgetown University, School of Foreign Service, with degrees in International Economics and Arabic Studies. Due to an unfortunate accident while at Oberlin College, I was forced to give up the clarinet, and took up the renaissance recorders during my later college years. While performing on recorders years later, I stumbled upon the Celtic harp and at last found my calling. While I am predominately self-taught, I considered Kim Robertson to be my mentor until I developed my own style.

I performed on clarinet with the Arlington Symphony Orchestra; the Oberlin Wind Ensemble and Oberlin Orchestra; and the Washington, D.C. Baroque Chamber Orchestra; I performed on renaissance recorders with the Smithsonian Institution Early Music Ensemble (Washington, D.C.) and Classic Winds, a recorder quartet based in San Diego, CA. I performed on Celtic harp, bodhran, and recorders with Silver Strings and Crystal, an Irish band in California. I currently perform both as a soloist and with other Celtic musicians from the Birmingham, AL area.

I have regularly visited cancer patients and others with my harp at the Scripps Memorial Hospital, La Jolla, CA; and played for terminally ill patients at the San Diego Hospice, San Diego, CA. I also played for the Midtown Nursing Home in Somerset, KY several times -- have given talks about the effects of harp music on the human physiology to the Chief of Staff and other staff members of Scripps Memorial Hospital and to the staff and patients' families of the War Veterans Memorial Nursing Home in Augusta, GA. I have played harp for patients and staff at the University of Alabama, Birmingham (UAB).

I have recorded with World Disc Productions, Friday Harbor, WA, and with Celestial Sounds, my own record company. I have produced ten solo albums and three sampler albums available on tape and compact disc.

I teach privately in Birmingham, AL, and offer group workshops for beginning through professional harpers and harpists. I have offered five distinct workshop
titles: Passionate Playing, Bass Patterns Techniques in Composing and Arranging, Selling Your Wares at Trade Shows, The 6/6 Cross Strung Harp, and Learning a Celtic Tune in a Session. These have been taught in: Atlanta, GA, San Diego, CA, Mt. Laguna, CA, Oberlin, OH, Burlington, VT, and Monterey, CA. They have been very well received, and testimonials in this regard are available upon request.

I have extensive experience performing for a wide variety of events including solo concerts, weddings, receptions, elegant dinners, new store openings, business luncheons, and parties. In addition, I offer consulting on harps, healing with music, recording design, graphic design of album covers, and harp related matters. I also sell Celtic harps representative of five American harp manufacturers.