Photo: WaterAid/ James McCauley
Catrin Finch has just released her new, self-composed album, Tides. This disc is the first time Catrin’s own compositions have appeared as a complete body of work, and the album also features her piano skills. She has gifted one of the tracks, 'Changing Tides', to support WaterAid's work to bring safe water and sanitation to some of the world’s poorest communities.
We recently shipped a blue harp to Addis Ababa for Catrin Finch, who has been to Ethiopia as part of her work as an ambassador for WaterAid.
Catrin writes: "Growing up on the West coast of Wales, my childhood by the sea was one of the main influences on my creativity, so I suppose that’s why learning about WaterAid’s work to help the world’s poorest communities gain access to safe water, toilets and hygiene facilities really resonated with me. Today, over 748 million people around the world still have no clean water to drink, and globally over 500,000 children die every year from diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation. That's over 1,400 children a day.
Ethiopia is in the horn of Africa, where an extended period of droughts, famines and conflicts has had a serious impact on health and life expectancy. Many children die before the age of five and almost half of the population - over 44.5 million people - have no choice but to collect water from unsafe sources. To date, WaterAid has funded more than 50 water and sanitation projects in Ethiopia, transforming the lives of 1.2 million people with clean water and more than half a million people with safe sanitation, but until safe water reaches everyone everywhere, their work continues.
People vary in the extent to which they relish competitions. Having been useless at them myself, I regard their winners with great admiration and awe, and I also really feel for everyone who gets thrown out. I promise you that in the fullness of time it will cease to matter, but it's always very hard at the time.
A wise course of action in the bloody aftermath of first round results is to join Germaine Lorenzini for a cigarette in the fresh air, and this was where I found myself at the last Cité des Arts competition. "It's a horrible process sometimes, isn't it", I said, mournfully. "Of course it's a horrible process", said Germaine, "but we have no other solution. You can't achieve the constructive aspects of a competition in any other way. There's no better way to push your level, train your nerves, handle pressure. So we have to keep doing them."
And so, as we explain in the sponsoring section of camas-harps.com, we keep doing competitions. They are important, and to win one is an incredible achievement which should be celebrated far and wide. Nonetheless, festivals are more fun.
We have just returned from the Second Cracow Harp Days, and they have been a perfect example of why we love festivals. Interesting, diverse, and warm, organised in friendship and with a passion for the harp and the artists who play it, the weekend was a joy from start to finish.
We began with a celebration of young Polish talent: a lunchtime recital by Klara Woskowiak, co-winner of the Camac competition in London in 2014. If you were unlucky enough to miss it, you can enjoy a film of the entire concert on TV Zaprasza, one of the festival's national patrons.
Congratulations to Andreas Milder, who will take over from Gisèle Herbert as the professor of harp at the Hochschule für Musik in Würzburg. And - auditions to join his new class are closing soon! The deadline for applications is March 31st, and you can find all details here. He has held a teaching position at the Würzburg Hochschule for some years now, and will take up his full professorship in the summer of 2015.
Andreas Mildner won the first prize in the Arpista Ludovico competition in Spain in 2009, and is now Principal Harp with the West German Radio Symphony Orchestra, Cologne. He has also been honoured with the Kulturpreis Bayern, the Barischer Kunstförderpreis, and last season appeared as a concerto soloist with the Bremen Philharmonic, the Würzburg Philharmonic, the Staatskapelle Schwerin, and the Utrecht Philharmonic.
Andreas’s duo with tubist Andreas Hofmeir is a central feature of his diverse chamber music activities: watch them here playing Piazzolla (arr. Andreas Mildner), live in the studio of the Bavarian Radio.
Who is Ulysses, for you? This is the question Elisa Vellia has asked all sorts of people, all over the world. Call him Ulysses or Odysseus, the name means something to everyone. Great myths wend their way through our collective and private minds, wherever you come from and wherever you are.
Elisa, another constantly-journeying Greek, had already experienced the power of music in bringing people together, singing and playing for them with her guitar or on the piano. "I first discovered the harp in the London Underground", she explains. "A busker was playing a tiny harp at the foot of a long escalator down to the Tube. In the middle of this huge, bustling city, so full of people who are too busy hurrying past to look you in the eye - where, as with all big cities, you can feel completely alone - everyone who went past this musician felt compelled to put money in his hat. I immediately stopped and asked him to drink a coffee, and talk to me about this magical instrument he was holding in his hands."
As Elisa's own travels continued from England to France, and she found herself in Arles, she discovered a Greek community who have been based in the region for the last 150 years. She wrote a song for them: “Ulysses, you are their brother / Ulysses, you are their wind / On these lonely seas / You are their only, unique friend”. She found her audience were deeply moved by the music of a country they had themselves for the most part never visited, but which belonged to their grandparents, and whose language, songs and dances had been passed on to them in their cradles. And so it was, in Arles, that Elisa Vellia had the idea of a light, robust, concert-quality harp, with which it would be easy to travel to different audiences throughout the world.
David Rescher of the Harfengalerie Camac Berlin has launched an extensive new touring project: Vielsaitig auf Tour! This title is a play on words in German, combining versatility (vielseitig) with lots of strings (viele Saiten) - very fitting, we all agree!
Vielsaitig auf Tour is a series of concerts and workshops in collaboration with professors throughout Germany. This year, we are delighted to be working with Andreas Wehrenfennig, Fabiana Trani, Elisa Mediero, Simone Häusler and Nicole Müller, from Rostock in the far north of Germany, to down on Lake Constance. Together with the host professors, David has invited guest artists Nikolaz Cadoret, Evelyn Huber and Petra van der Heide to give workshops and concerts. These in themselves are versatile. Nikolaz will reveal the dynamism and richness of the contemporary lever harp; Evelyn will be exploring jazz and world music, and Petra will be running her renowned orchestral audition training.
Alongside the days' artistic events, the Harfengalerie Camac Berlin will be holding exhibitions, as well as offering the chance to have your Camac harp regulated.
Entry to all events is free, but it is necessary to book in regulations, and to take part in the workshops. Detailed information and registration forms are available online at the Harfengalerie's dedicated Vielsaitig auf Tour webspace.
Between March 21st - 22nd, we will be in Onex, Switzerland, for a harp weekend with François Pernel and the association Harpes en Coeur. François has composed a Stabat Mater inspired by the music of Gershwin and Bernstein, for: counter-tenor and tenor solo, harp solo, a choir of twelve lever harps and four flutes. The rehearsals are well underway, with the classes of Elise Estavoyer, Sylvie Laville, and Alessia Lepori. The world premier of the Stabat Mater will take place at the Église du Christ-Roi, 6 chemin de l’épargne, 1213 Petit-Lancy, at 5PM on March 22nd.
Throughout the weekend's rehearsals and courses there will also be a Camac exhibition, and the chance to have your Camac harp regulated for free. For regulation bookings and exhibition enquiries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are very proud to announce the latest development in our range: the Ulysse (Ulysses). An ultra-light, highest-quality concert lever harp created together with Elisa Vellia, the Ulysse is a 34-string harp that weighs just over 8 kg. Elisa dreamed of a robust, light and reliable harp, with a deep and rich sound, for traveling to audiences throughout the world. After months of work, Jakez François, our master craftsmen and our in-house engineers have turned this vision into reality.
The Ulysse combines centuries-old traditions of luthiery, in particular through a magnificent spruce soundboard, with innovative modern materials such as carbon fiber and titanium. It is the quintessence of a savoir-faire acquired through years of experience with fine instruments, such as those that are the pride of our company: for example our Concert Mélusine, Aziliz, Janet and Telenn Kadiou. This expertise is combined with our state-of-the-art developments from the DHC ultra-light ElectroHarp.
The Ulysse is strung with Alliance™ fluorocarbon strings, for a supple yet strong touch ideal for traditional music.
The first stop on its journey will be Parisian. At L’Espace Camac on Sunday, March 8th at 6PM, Elisa Vellia will blend her voice with that of the Ulysse, in workshop and concert.
You are cordially invited to discover them both! Please reserve your places for the launch directly with L'Espace Camac: +33 (0) 1 40 40 08 40, email@example.com.
We’ve just returned from an action-packed weekend organized by our UK partners, Telynau Vining. The harp days we and/or our partners sponsor usually aim to provide a broad spectrum of artistic and commercial opportunity. There will be concerts, probably across different musical genres. There will be masterclasses and workshops, plus Camac sales & service, with an exhibition and regulation opportunities.
Our exhibition in Cardiff
We also always try and strike an intelligent balance between input from international visiting artists, and local talent. Music is a universal language, but equally every country we visit has its own musical life to support and celebrate.
Cardiff was no exception: Telynau Vining surpassed themselves with an ambitious programme for children, professionals and amateurs alike. From “Become a Harpist for a Day” for complete beginners, to masterclasses by Elinor Bennett, Eira Lynn Jones, and Val Aldrich-Smith, to a fascinating lecture from Meinir Heulyn about concert dress, and a grand finale with Deborah Henson-Conant live on video link from the US, the wide range of events had something for everyone – and this, not only.
It can be very enlightening when a programme offers things you can see are for you, but also explores what hasn’t been on your radar. Once you are there, curiosity entices you through the doors of classes you wouldn’t otherwise have thought of. It is, for example, an education to watch a masterful pedagogue like Elinor Bennett teaching grades 1-4. Teaching beginners well is far from self-evident, particularly when you have just left music college, and grades 1-4 are a long time past in you own experience. It is similarly thought-provoking to see Eira Lynn Jones expertly handle a mixed ability masterclass. In such a group, how do you ensure that everyone has a constructive experience, whether they are playing or watching? How do you coax the less confident into performing, while showing the more advanced players in the group why this is also relevant to them? How do you be rigorous, so everyone leaves having learnt something, while simultaneously managing to inspire, not discourage? It was equally impressive to watch Shelley Fairplay work with her large ensembles of complete beginners (“Become a Harpist for a Day”, complete with T-shirts), and her own students, the aptly-named Dynamic Harps. Teachers like these are passionate, committed and they know that music is for everyone.