The winners of the Dutch Harp Competition 2014 have been announced. Congratulations to them all, on their magnificent achievements!
Returning from the Dutch Harp Festival feels like coming back from the World Harp Congress. Were it not for the exhilaration of the competition, both from the contestants' performances and from the discovery of not one, but two new harp concertos, you'd almost forget you'd been at a contest. There is the same celebratory atmosphere, the same happy opportunity of seeing friends and colleagues again, and the same impossibility of seeing it all.
Some events were zany, and whackiness stimulates ideas. Even if you never end up playing Conte Fantastique dressed as nurses and paramedics again, it still jolts your perspective about the story, in all its nervous intensity. Some concerts reached out to new audiences, such as children, or those who wouldn't normally consider a classical instrument. The widespread success of Catrin Finch and Seikou Keita's harp/kora duo, witty, joyful and tender by turns and always lovely, has already made a big impact on the world music scene and doubtless will continue to do so.
Other concerts showed us the very best the classical harp can do. Few will forget Isabelle Moretti's performance of the second movement of Ravel's piano concerto in G. It is so difficult, the endless line Ravel himself said "nearly killed" him; but so beautiful. Its fragile, luminous knowingness is like its time, between the wars, few illusions left, art needed more than ever. On the harp, it was less jazzy, more wistful, the flute entry all the more poignant because of the pastoral resonances that seemed to be, and not to be, all at the same time.