Following on from Edmar Castaneda's new album, Harpblog has another piece of news about the harp in Latin America. It's a very special project for Latin American harp students, that will take place in Mexico between the 25th and 30th of April, 2012. It is: a travelling harp workshop, organised by Isabelle Moretti (France), Mercedes Gomez (Mexico) and Marisela González (Venezuela).
Before this article goes any further, here is an essential practicality: the application form! Closing date: March 10th.
And now, here's some more about the project from the artists themselves!
Isabelle Moretti. Photo: Eric Larrayadieu
After two journeys with my husband, the one to Venezuela to El Sistema, and the other to Mexico with Mercedes Gomez, I became truly aware of how lucky we French musicians are, to have almost everything we need while others have practically nothing. Of course, I had already been aware of this, but these journeys really brought it home to me, almost physically.
The traditional Criolla harp is an instrument widely played in Central and South America, but the “classical” harp struggles to fulfil its potential because of significant difficulties – a lack of instruments, strings and music, but also a lack of contact with the outside classical music world, and little access to teaching (I mean, contact other than on YouTube !). On the other hand, the goodwill, courage and self-sacrifice of certain teachers is not lacking at all!
It was in meeting two of these fantastic teachers, Mercedes Gomez from Mexico and Marisela Gonzales from Caracas, that I very much wanted to do something concrete, by offering my help as a soloist and as professor at the CNSM in Paris.
Mercedes and Marisela know their countries very well. Their knowledge is extremely valuable and after long discussions, it became clear to us that the most useful thing to do would be to create a travelling classical harp workshop. If the workshop travels, this permits the young harpists of Central and South America to take part more easily, by reducing the duration and price of their journey.
We are thinking, in the first instance, of beginning in the two cities of Mexico and Caracas. Following the initial results and level of interest, it would of course be possible to expand our field of action at a later date. It is a journey for us all. We hope that by putting our knowledge together, we will be best able to help all these young harpists who deserve it so much.
THE INFINITE IMPORTANCE OF SHARING
What might some harpists in France, Venezuela and Mexico have in common - besides playing the harp, being women, and enjoying teaching?
Possibly, in this case, it is that the three of us own a dictionary that includes the verb to SHARE. Our project started when Isabelle Moretti (France) was teaching in Brazil. Marisela González (Venezuela) was also working there, and after her course had finished, Isabelle travelled to Mexico, where I live. Marisela, Isabelle and I began discussing the harp world in Latin America, and its difficulties.
We decided to use this verb "to share". We started thinking about how to share our very different experiences. We wanted a workshop in which Isabelle, with her enormous talent and amazing experience, could help us to strengthen the studies of our harp students in Latin America, as we know this needs hard work. We thought a lot about what to call this experience, and decided on TALLER ITINERANTE DE ARPA CLÁSICA, which means the CLASSICAL HARP TRAVELLING WORKSHOP.
Our Taller Itinerante is specifically addressed to Latin American students, who, owing to their political, economic and cultural circumstances, generally have had much less access to opportunities, instruments, strings and scores than students from first world countries. The travelling workshop that will take place in April is a first adventure. We will see how it goes, shape it while it's happening, and keep a fresh, open-minded spirit.
Isabelle, Marisela and I have been practicing our three languages at different levels, thinking “out loud” at our computers (what a crazy image! My grandma would not have a clue what I'm talking about!). We have discussed how to structure the sessions - these will include individual classes, and technique sessions in groups - and how to open the application process.
While the three of us were doing the artistic planning, I contacted schools and institutions in Mexico to see who could host and support the workshop. Janet Paulus and Artemisa González, our generous colleagues and professors at the Escuela Nacional de Música (part of the National University UNAM) jumped for joy at the idea. They spoke with their director, Francisco Viesca, who has respected and supported a lot of our harp ideas, competitions, master classes and other projects over the last few years. Camac Harps also kindly volunteered to sponsor us.
Thanks to this wonderful support, we are ready to launch the project and send out the application forms. I promise to let you know how this adventure will develop. There have already been wonderful benefits, like sharing some Venezuelan and Mexican harp repertoire with Isabelle, her recommending some French teaching literature, and the three of us being very aware and respectful of the different situations and contexts from which we come.
All this, besides making us more aware of how vital it is that artists work together, fills my heart with gratitude and the molto crescendo joy of sharing.
¡GRACIAS, THANKS, MERCI, GOOD LUCK, BONNE CHANCE Y BUENA SUERTE!
Mercedes Gómez Benet, Mexico
Regardless of the challenges we face in Latin America, we are teaching the harp and we will continue to do so! But I also feel we must do something inspiring for our students, who love their instrument so much that they overcome all the difficulties, and keep practising as much as they can.
Last year, after meeting Isabelle Moretti at a festival we had in Brazil, and experiencing what a motivation she was for the students, Isabelle offered enthusiastically to help us. So here we are, with a programme of masterclasses and technical workshops for students of all levels. This way, we are giving a chance to students who would probably never be able to travel abroad to hear harpists other than their own teachers: a chance to play or to hear these masterclasses and workshops in our own countries with a unique harpist. It will be a week of students of different levels playing and re-playing together, watching, talking, observing and absorbing as much as they can. They will also know that this is going to happen again, close enough for them to get to; they will be able, in other words, through this repeated experience to keep growing as harpists. I am certain that our workshop is going to be a chance for sharing: not just experience or knowledge, but the joy of learning and playing together.
Of course I want to thank Isabelle Moretti, Mercedes Gómez, Artemisa Reyes, Janet Paulus and Camac Harps for their generosity and support.
Marisela Gonzalez, Venezuela