One of few male clarsach players in Scotland, Neil Wood was born in the small village of Neilston, thirty minutes south of Glasgow and began playing at the age of six. Having been taught by internationally renowned lever harpist and traditional musician Rachel Hair for over 10 years, Neil is currently in his honours year of a BMus(Hons) Traditional Music (Traditional Harp) at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland where he has received tuition from Heather Downie, Corrina Hewat and now specialist wire-strung harp tuition from Karen Marshalsay. He is passionate about Scottish traditional music – specifically music from the Gaelic, Highland and West Coast traditions with a particular interest in historical music and the research, preservation and playing of ancient repertoire on both the gut and wire-strung harp.
Neil regularly employs the use of fingernail techniques in much of his performance practice on both gut and wire-strung harp and explores a range of timbres access both instruments through bending both finger pad and fingernail technique.
Neil is also interested in contemporary traditional music and creating new and innovative sounds that are sympathetic to past tradition. Composing and arranging regularly for solo and group performances as well as private commissions, Neil is an experience traditional composer and arranger, starting the journey winning the Clarsach Composition Competition during The Royal National Mòd in Paisley, 2013. More recently he has began to experiment with electroacoustic composition and sonic art.
With a keen interest in music education Neil teaches a number of private students, holds the position of Instrumental Music Instructor with East Renfrewshire Council, has lead the Clarsach tuition at Fèis Bharraigh and founded and is lead tutor with Glasgow based traditional music education project Southside Traditional Music Ensemble
Keen to celebrate to ancient sociocultural role of the harper, Neil regularly provides music for functions, weddings and events.
In addition to this Neil has been involved with various large projects including the Phil Cunningham Highlands and Islands Suite as part of the Celtic Connections festival, performing as part of a 200 piece ensemble in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.