Recently we sponsored two concerts, by Catrin Finch and Paige Su, at the fifth Australian Harp Festival, which took place in Adelaide last month. The fabulous stateside-based technician Liza Jensen also went. As well as regulating harps on site, she gave a workshop on pedal harp maintenance - how to regulate pedal cables, mend broken pedal rods, and so on.
We were only sorry not to be able to attend in person, and it's brilliant to have been sent this report by Jill Atkinson, so we can at least imagine we were there! Many thanks to Jill and our partner Stephen Carter for keeping us in the loop.
Australian Harp Festival, Adelaide 2012
Yes we went! Norah and I were the only Qld reps—and it was WOW! WOW! WOW!!!
People came from Singapore, USA, NZ (14!) and all the Australian states. I was impressed by the turnout of professional harpists from every state and the friendliness and spirit of celebration and co-operation amongst us all. I had a fab time connecting with old friends and new, amazed at how many people wanted to talk to me and proving the strength of the bond between those of us who are enraptured by this amazing instrument. I was also totally impressed by the professionalism and the smoothness with which the SA organisers ran the whole thing, how it seemed to run effortlessly and with total relaxation (when I knew that under the surface they had many last-minute challenges.) Congratulations to Gillian and her team of quiet achievers for a very successful and happy festival.
So what were the highlights?
For me, No 1 by a country mile was Welsh harpist Catrin Finch, whom I nominated as the Paganini of the Harp – and I am sure someone else has already called her that. She was incredible and oh so entertaining. Spectacular and indescribable really. A well-deserved standing ovation and a real character. You have not seen harp playing like this ever—she seems set on dispelling all the old notions of what a harp is, and I love it!
So much else was terrific— lots of hands-on workshops of all sorts, lectures, private lessons with both Catrin and the other international soloist, Argentinian –born harpist Maria-Luisa Rayan-Forero, masterclasses with same, lectures and concerts of all sorts. I got involved in adjudicating one of the 2 solo harp competitions and learnt some new music along the way, which I was then able to go and purchase at one of the harp businesses represented there. Also lots of shining new pedal harps to try out and many different types of lever harp. A great place to go and try before you buy, which many people did. One young aspiring harpist from Tasmania scored the jackpot—she managed to buy the lovely Camac harp that Catrin Finch so ably warmed up for her!!! WOW!!!!!
And even after it was all over, while Norah and I were having breakfast at the airport while awaiting our flights home, who should sit next to us but Liza Jensen, a harp player from USA who was out here to promote herself regulating both pedal harps of all sorts (she gave 2 workshops on regulating the Camac harp, which is a totally different system to all pedal harps before, and oh so simple) and also LEVER harps!!!! As I hadn’t had the opportunity to attend her lectures or talk to her over the weekend it was most opportune that we should meet up in this way, as she is keen to come to Australia next year to regulate all harps and is very affordable. She also has the advantage over some regulators in that she plays harp at a high level herself and will understand players’ particular concerns. Stay tuned!
And now with my first student since the festival I realise I have picked up more than I knew at the time— a very necessary confirmation of proper sitting and arm position at the harp—things we think we know but have to be reminded of visually every now and then in order to keep our own playing and teaching correct. Who better to emulate than these terrific players from the other side of the world!
Sydney 2014—here we come—it is going to be SENSATIONAL—check out the website from now on. I will be harping on this forever until you all join me there! It will change the state of harping in Australia for ever—so many wonderful experiences for every level and interest in harp—all in a week of harp saturation in many wonderful venues in the very heart of fabulous Sydney! I am in love!!!
Jill Atkinson, Editor, Harpbeat, (The official newsletter of the Harp Society of Queensland Incorporated) Principal Harpist Queensland Symphony Orchestra