The Camac team has so been doing Russia this week (imagine a topical, indeed witty banner change to Арфавлог, a bit like the Google logo at Christmas). But Russia or no Russia, today is still July 1st, which means it’s time for a new Camac voice on our homepage. It is an extract from a very interesting new flute and harp CD, and it isn’t Russian at all. It is Spanish / Singaporean: performed by flautist Roberto Alvarez and harpist Katryna Tan, and also consisting entirely of new works by composers from these two countries. The result is a mellifluous disc that, for something so contemporary, is remarkably easy to listen to, but that nonetheless offers “serious” repertoire – never clichéd or cheesy. The album was launched in September 2011, attracting considerable attention from both the Spanish and Singaporean press. One blog wrote: "for the year’s most adventurous programming conceived in a concert, look no further", here.
Katryna is a wonderful champion of the harp in Singapore and Malaysia. Deservedly, she has been twice decorated: with the Young Artist’s Award 2005, a cultural medallion from the President of Singapore for artistic excellence, and last year, she was granted a prestigious Setiawan Tuanku Muhriz award from the King of Malaysia. This is a high-level prize given to individuals who have brought honour to the State, by excelling in their careers and respective fields.
As well as being an active performing artist with diverse ensembles – such as her duo with Roberto, and also the Isis Trio we heard at the last World Harp Congress in Vancouver – Katryna is a composer and arranger, and very busy teacher. Her student ensemble the Rave Harpers massively impressed everyone when they came to perform at our fortieth anniversary celebrations in Ancenis. Not only had they managed to bring eighteen students aged between five and eighteen all the way from Singapore, they were fantastically prepared. They even performed their varied and attractive programmes entirely from memory.
Some of the Rave Harpers outside our factory in Mouzeil
Katryna is currently preparing for a concert celebrating her tenth year of work with the harp world in Singapore. This concert, 'Dance with an Angel', will take place on August 12th 2012, 7:30PM, at the Esplanade Recital Studio in Singapore. It is a great example of Katryna's imaginative approach to concert planning, with a programme of music themed around evoking a particular atmosphere.
We are also really looking forward to HarpFest, which Jakez and I are going to in November 2012. It is the fourth time Katryna has organised this highly successful festival (the third migrated over to Malaysia to involve the harp community there). 2012's festival will star the wonderful Cristina Braga with her "Harpa Bossa" programme, and feature a harp musical for the first time, with singing and acting as well as harp-playing. Jakez and technician Liza Jensen will give workshops, and there will be an exhibition. There will also be various performance showcases from not only talented youth of Singapore, but also talented young harpists of the South East Asia region.
Regarding Pluck!, the harp musical, Katryna explains: "the Rave Harpers are experienced in giving traditional concerts now, so I was looking for a new challenge for us all. The idea is to do something fun and different, and involve the audience. It's going to involve harpists from the age of five, to grown-up. When I first came back to Singapore after finishing my studies, there wasn't such a big harp community. But now there really is one, where students and professionals of all ages get together, put on events and collaborate - linking out to the international community, too. It is what I was dreaming of really, ten years back. It's also very important to me to do a lot of new music, particularly from this region, to create a good source of repertoire we can feel really belongs to us and reflects the culture of Singapore."
As you can see, Katryna is a wonderful example of an artist who builds up an entire community through their creative thinking and superbly professional organisation. She widens the horizons of her students and audiences alike, and reveals the harp to be valuable.