The “DHC Blue Light” is Camac Harp’s latest collaboration with strap-on-harp-legend Deborah Henson-Conant. Made of super-light, mega-strong carbon fibre, it weighs just 11lbs, boasts a new lever design, and comes in 34- or 36-string models. Even Deborah herself can’t get a back-up model right now because of the length of the waiting list.
Ingeniously, Camac collaborated with bicycle manufacturers to make it happen. Deborah began working with Joël Garnier in the early 1990s, while she was on the hunt for a lever harp she could harness to her body and move about on stage with.
“I had wanted a harness harp for years. Some harp makers built quick prototypes (such as John Hoare of Pilgrim), but finally I got a small Rubarth lap harp, covered it with red-and-silver contact paper, put a pickup in it, made a rudimentary harness for it, took it on tour and played it for Joël. He said, “Ah, Deborah, now I see what you mean,” and the next time I saw him (it seemed like 4-6 months later, but was maybe more), he handed me the prototype of the Baby Blue. I still have that very first prototype!
I built a new harness (the prototype for what we’re all using now), a friend modified the harp (which was wood, so fairly easy to modify) so it could attach to a bogen camera-tripod as a stand, and I started touring with it, wrote orchestral pieces for it, and learned about amplification. For a while I always shipped the harp in a bicycle box, as it fit perfectly and I could often get it on a plane free that way.
The culmination of the Baby Blue was “Invention & Alchemy,” when I got to really show what the instrument could do both as a solo instrument and as a feature with orchestra. The end of the era came soon after at the Arles harp festival about 3-4 years ago, when I came without my Baby Blue and played a modern model.