Friday, 23 July 2010

the glamourous life

I bought a Victorian style hooped underskirt from the most amazing "aladin's cave" of a theatrical costume shop in Cambridge today.

I had just gone with a friend who was buying a costume for a show she is doing and went into a frenzy when I saw all the Victorian dresses they had.

However, after trying on a few dresses I decided that the one I already have is best but was in need of enormous hoop underskirt to make it all stick out!

Just need to get a few more props sorted out with Richard then I think we are all ready for our first Queen Victoria's Parlour gig next week. So just about to pop out and rummage through some charity shops for props.

I've just been doing some practice with the hooped underskirt over my jeans to see how it feels playing the harp with it on, and am very glad I did as it is very, very strange. How did the Victorian ladies manage?

I've also got a bit of a cold in my right ear so I need to play with an ear plug at the moment. The combination of hooped skirt over jeans, t-shirt, flip flops and big yellow ear plug sticking out of right ear is not the most glamourous look! Hopefully my ear should be ok by tomorrow for the last of the run of Katherine Jenkins gigs that I'm doing this summer.

Monday, 12 July 2010

My One and Only Love

Just been showing a harp student some harp videos and have stumbled on this amazing video on YouTube which I've just added to my "inspiring harp videos" page on this blog.

Definitely the most tasteful jazz harp I have ever heard. Texan harpist Cindy Horstman in a duo with bass player Michael Medina.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Old v New

I played on a Katherine Jenkins gig yesterday at the Llangollen Eistedfodd and it's going to be broadcast on S4C this Sunday 11th July at 8pm. I played David of the White Rock as a duet with Katherine again, this time a very different and scarily chromatic arrangement, and there were also a few harp solos in the Welsh Medleys.

So that got me thinking about why I used my black Aurora harp and not the gold Iris, especially as that concert was being broadcast on the telly...

I really appreciate having two harps, especially as I've been managing with just one up until now. The new gold Iris is at the Phil at the moment, so it was convenience really that I used the black Aurora. But actually I was really glad I didn't use the gold Iris!

The Iris is now starting to bed in now that it is nearly a year old and has an amazing rich sound which really carries across an auditorium. For solo and orchestral work it is a truly stunning instrument to play and you can get a real range of dynamics.

For Katherines gigs though all the instruments are miked up and the harp has 2 very close mikes, 1 at the bass end and 1 at the top. The engineers get a great sound (so I'm told) of the harp out at the front, but it is a complete nightmare playing with such close mikes. You have to be so aware of every finger noise, damp and pedal noise.

My Iris produces so much sound that I'm very conscious of having to damp all the time especially the mid range. You don't notice that when you play acoustically but it really shows up whenever I have done some test digital recordings.

I was going to do a CD recording earlier this year, but I've postponed it until the harp settles in and matures a bit more and generally doesn't have so much "boom" on a close up microphone.

So the Aurora came into it's own! It's a really lovely harp with a great sound and I'm very lucky to have two such amazing harps.