As the last day of 2011 approaches, here's to leaning back, humming the last refrains from the Samuel-Rousseau Variations, admiring all the new harps we got for Christmas, and reflecting on the year that's been.
2011 began for Camac with a concert tribute to our founder, Joël Garnier on January 8th, marking the tenth anniversary of his death. We were extremely touched by the response to this event from the harp community. All the artists we invited to play accepted immediately, and if we had known how many people would want to come and listen, we would have rented a bigger hall. In May 2012, we will hold a weekend-long festival in Ancenis, to celebrate Camac's own fortieth anniversary. There, we will also welcome many artists Joël knew and loved: we wish he could be there to greet them once again, and - like the memorial concert - the event will be a joyous occasion, a party in Joël's spirit.
We continue both to organise our own artistic events, and sponsor those of others. Our 2011 festivals include the Second Beijing Harp Festival, in collaboration with our Chinese partners Beijing Aria Cultural Development; the blue harp festival Odyssée de la Harpe, now in its sixth year; and our annual Camac Festival in regional France, this year in Angers. We also held La Festival de la Harpe, in Princeton in May, in collaboration with our partners The Virginia Harp Center. This new festival was a great success, with a broad programme ranging from Celtic music with Janet Harbison, jazz with our very own Jakez François, a star recital and masterclass from Catrin Finch, yoga for harpists, and a MIDI harp workshop with Jakez and Arnaud Roy.
Camac's MIDI harp has had a busy year. On January 26th, 2011, Sioned Williams and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Andrew Litton, premiered the first concerto for the instrument: 'No Doubt' by Graham Fitkin. This work used vocal samples from politicians from the time of the Iraq war, as Fitkin aimed to "turn...the archetypal Western perspective of the harp and its associated heavenly docility...on its head."
Following the concerto in London, the black and white MIDI harp returned to Paris to join its blue brother at the IRCAM in Paris, for an extensive composition residency organised together with Ghislaine Petit-Volta. This residency brought together three pairs of student harpists and composers to create three new works for the MIDI harp, which you can read about here. Also in Paris, we were honoured to find the MIDI harp awarded the Max Matthews Prize for technological innovation at the Qwartz Awards. The award ceremony was also an occasion to welcome a new MIDI harp composition: Harp Haikus, by Elisabeth Valletti. Looking ahead, Elisabeth is writing a new album dedicated to the MIDI harp, which will be released in autumn 2012.