Tuesday, 27 March 2012


You would think that as a harpist, I would understand how important it is to listen to other harpists performing. I get a lot from going to concerts (although I don't do it very often, not nearly often enough) and taking part in workshops etc. But I have always found it incredibly hard to sit down and listen to classical music. Part of me cannot sit still in contemplation for long enough. The rest of me is afraid of the emotions that come up from listening to and concentrating completely on music that I love.

My mum bought me a harp CD for Christmas. The CD is called Harp Showpieces, and I doubt she had even heard of the harpist - Judy Loman. I suspected she looked at the back of the box, saw La Source which I recently performed for the first time (having fallen in love with it aged 10!), and thought it would make a good stocking filler.

Hasselmans - La Source - performed by Isabelle Moretti

I don't think she knows what she has started. I lent it out to the payroll manager at work as his wife had expressed an interest in getting some harp music to listen to, so he came round to my desk one day to ask for some recommendations. I lent it out before I had listened to it myself, then realised this wasn't quite right, and so once he gave it back, I had a listen. I broke my rule of no classical music in the car (normally I get too absorbed and can't concentrate on the road) and it hasn't been out of the CD player all week.

A chance comment from a chat over Facebook with another harpist's brother led to my discovering the Introduction, Cadenza and Rondo by Parish Alvars - which I then was delighted to find was on my new CD. He had said it was his favourite, but his sister said it was really hard, and did I play it. His sister is incredibly talented and is one of my biggest sources of inspiration, having been completely wowed by one of her solo concerts a couple of years ago. I said I couldn't play it, and if his sister found it hard, there was precious little hope for me. I didn't know it at all, so skipped through to the track on the CD and began to listen. It was incredible.

Parish Alvars - Introduction, Cadenza and Rondo - performed by Eleanor Turner

It then reminded me of another piece which I absolutely adore, and has been a favourite for some time - Legende by Henriette Renie - herself an incredibly talented and pioneering harpist from the days where women were only allowed to play the harp at home as a way of increasing their marriageability!

Renie - Legende - Xavier de Maistre

I'm not sure I can bear the thought that I will never perform these pieces - doing a full time job, plus all the other things I currently spend my time on, means I do not have the required practice time to devote to the harp. Truth be told, just the practice time alone wouldn't be enough anyway. I am carrying another scary injury, and I know that if I am to really progress, I need to spend a significant amount of time and effort picking things apart and putting them back together

I began investigating music courses (long story) and am thrilled to have been offered an audition at the Royal Scottish Conservatoire on April 18th....

So I have picked up my practice time again, to get ready for the scariest performance of my life.

And to help me out, my mum pitched up with another CD on Sunday - this time she admitted she didn't have a clue who the harpist was - and it was the aforementioned Xavier de Maistre, who is rather dashing and Mum admitted this was a big part of the reason for choosing it. I have yet to listen to it, as I copied it onto my phone and promptly lent it back to her!

My blog has been a little light on pictures recently so here is a harp I adore.... a Marmite harp - I think it is stunning. It's a Salvi Scolpita - and the image is from Salvi Harps

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