Tuesday, 22 March 2011


LA Harp Blog: HARPO AND DALI: "Creative pairings between like-minded thinkers is vital, in particular for artists, writers and musicians. The three co-exist splendidly. S..."

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Five Take Fives

My husband, as well as being a composer, is also an amazing jazz musician. So having been to so many jazz gigs and listened to so many amazing jazz musicians over the years I've always been a bit wary of jazz played on the harp...

But here are 5 very different harp versions of Take Five, commonly attributed to Dave Brubeck, but was of course written by Paul Desmond, the sax player in his group.

All of these harp versions are great, but I have a soft spot for Joy Yu Hoffman's version played on the chinese harp. I really like the middle section of her version, and it just sounds great on the Konghou.

Park Stickney - solo harp

Jakez Francois - harp with piano, drums & bass

Amanda Whiting - solo harp (nice video!)

Polish harpist Małgorzata Zalewska & flugel with orchestra

Sarah Deere-Jones - celtic harp & guitar

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Eagle Harps

Holy cow - a whole new world of neurosis for harpists!

Konghou Harp

47 + 47 stringsdouble-row strings with pedals
Height: 222 cm
Width: 110 cm
Weight: 53 kgs

Joy Yu Hoffman performing her arrangement of Dave Brubeck's "Take Five" on the Kong Hou (Chinese Harp).

Saturday, 12 March 2011

look - no hands!

So, I was playing in a concert with a chamber orchestra tonight and we had just played the Clarinet Concerto by Copland (great piece, loads of harp throughout) and I'm on stage during the interval giving the harp a quick re-tune before the second half starts.

This lady from the audience comes over to the side of the stage and doesn't appear to be visually impaired or drunk.

In all seriousness she calls me over to ask me....

"I've never seen one of those with a projection box on the back before.....

(me - ¿Qué? )

do they all have that?

(me - ¿Qué? )

I had to come over and ask you because I was curious......

do you use your hands to play?


(wait it gets better)

because i can see you were playing with your feet"


Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Arianna Savall

Wow - what an amazing harpist and singer!

Not being really up on the early music scene I hadn't come across her before, but stumbled across a video of her on YouTube.

I've recently bought her album Peiwoh from iTunes and it's been played non-stop since in our house.

Arianna is a fascinating musician, being an acclaimed early music opera singer as well as harpist and has an impressive back catalogue of CDs of early music both as a harpist and separately as singer.

However her latest CDs seem to be of her own compositions played with her band, with Arianna playing triple harp, gothic harp and celtic harps as well as singing. The rest of her band are playing various early and folk string instruments (not sure what they are because of the language on the website!) and also hand percussion.

The result is a very tasteful and sublime world music album which gets the thumbs up from everyone in my household - which is quite a feat as we all have very diverse tastes!

Very difficult to pick a favourite track, possibly Aurora as it's a harp only track. Suite Celtic has a more traditional vibe and shows the musical excellence of all the musicians. A "chill out" track with a very wide appeal is El Llenguatge dels ocells. Although every track on this CD is fantastic.

No UK dates in her concert schedule which is a shame, as I would love to see her live.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Mahler 6 Finale

nails or picks?

picks or nails?

Started the rehearsals on nails, Petrenko then wanted picks, and on the final rehearsal on the day of the concert wanted nails.

I completely underestimated the time needed to grow my nails for this gig, and to be honest just didn't think about this piece coming up in the diary and just kept them usual short length.

Arghgh!! They were just too short at the start of the week.

So ended up having to get some false gel nails put on so that the nails were long enough to play with. My nails are very short and are slow to grow!

Only lost 3 false nails during the week which was quite a bizarre sight as they flew off as I was playing during rehearsals.

note to self - don't cut nails before Mahler 6 again.

BTW - In case you are wondering - they are definitely not my nails above. Can you imagine trying to do anything with those nails?