The 5-4-3-2-1 countdown is underway for the Camac weekend in Cardiff, organized by our partners Telynau Vining and starting February 7th! Deborah Henson-Conant, who will be beamed across HUGE TV screens live from the US, has made a video with co-organiser Shelley Fairplay, in which you can hear all about the packed and varied programme. There'll be the webinar with DHC about arranging music, concerts with Ben Creighton-Griffiths and Shelley, masterclasses with Elinor Bennett and Eira Lynn Jones, orchestral repertoire, sound processing, and "Become A Harpist For A Day" for complete beginners - and you can also get your harp serviced for free by Enric.
Shelley's own concert, The Three Strands, is also a meeting of minds with Deborah Henson-Conant. Shelley developed it in the course of a programme where Deborah mentored her, and it's like a story of Shelley's journey in finding her own unique style as a musician. The concert combines many musical genres - Celtic, classical, flamenco, Doctor Who, Starwars - and “The Three Strands” refers to an age-old Celtic tale that each harper must master three musical strands in order to truly serve humanity. The details of each strand differ in every story. In Shelley’s version, they are the strands of passion, sorrow and joy. But in every tale, these strands are always played by a harpist, and they always encompass the human experience.
For more information and a full timetable, see here on Telynau Vining's website.
The Académie de musique française in Kyoto is now in its twenty-fifth year! This centre for franco-Japanese musical excellence invites the finest French soloists for an entire fortnight of masterclasses. Thanks to the vision of Chihiro Hayami, the harp has been a member of the programme since 2007. The harp has a particularly strong tradition of excellence in France. The country has been the seat of the development of the concert harp as we know it today. Fine instruments attract fine players, and fine players inspire fine composers. This is the cycle that has lead to so many French masterpieces in the harp repertoire, and so many world-class French soloists, and it is one we are very proud to have as part of our heritage.
We are also very proud to have been partners of the Kyoto Académie since the beginning of the harp's involvement. The 2015 Académie will take place from March 20th - April 1st, 2015, at the Insitut Français in Kyoto. The harp professor will be Ghislaine Petit-Volta, professor at the Conservatoire à Rayonnement Régional in Paris, and also at the Pôle Supérieur d'Enseignement Artistique Boulogne-Billancourt.
Ghislaine Petit-Volta studied with Brigitte Sylvestre, Pierre Jamet, Gérard Devos and Christian Lardé at the Paris Conservatoire, where she obtained a harp First Prize in 1981, and a chamber music First in 1982. From the age of seventeen, she regularly played with the great orchestras of Paris and Northern Europe – the Berlin Philharmonic, the Paris Opera, the Radio France Philharmonic, the French National Orchestra, the Paris Orchestra, the Paris Orchestral Ensemble, the Ensemble Intercontemporain, etc. Alongside her orchestral playing, Ghislaine is particularly well-known for her new music work. She has given many world premieres, for example with the Ensemble Fa, Musique Oblique, Court Circuit, Festival de la Criée (Marseille/France) and Festival d'automne (Paris/France), and works with composers such as Claude Prey, Félix Ibarrondo, John Cage, Ton That Tiêt, Lindolfo Bicalho, Eyrick Abecassis, Fineberg, Favio Daiban and Jean Marc Singier.
Her recordings include a collection of twelth-century French song, ‘Trouvères à la cour de Champagne’, with the Venance Fortunat Ensemble on Harmonia Mundi, Pierre Vellones’s trios with harp on REM, and ‘Pli selon Pli’ (‘Fold by Fold’) by Pierre Boulez, under Boulez’s own direction on Deutsche Grammophon. Her most recent disc is a recital in hommage to Rameau, including her own transcription of Rameau's Pièces de clavecin (vol.1). The closing date for applications for the twenty-fifth Académie de musique française is January 31st, 2015.
You can apply online here (French) and here (Japanese). Many of the masterclasses are open to the public, and there will be a special concert by the best students on the course. You will also have the chance to here all the masterclass professors together in an additional concert, with a programme of masterpieces from the French chamber music literature. In special honour of the quarter-century of the competition, there will also be an additional series of lectures on contemporary music by M. Philippe Manoury.
You may be starting to descend into a tinsel-strewn frenzy of festive cheer, but here's another deadline coming up in January worth taking a note of now. We are sponsoring the Académie Musicale de Villecroze. This long-standing, prestigious academy has decided to reopen its harp class, and 2015's professor will be Isabelle Moretti.
The course will take place from March 31st - April 11th, 2015. Application is by recording and the deadline for this is January 21st. All application information is available on the course site.
In association with our Hungarian partner, Csilla Gulyás, Florence Sitruk will be giving a course for pedal harpists at the stunning Karolyi Castle in Hungary, between October 26th and 30th of this year. With places for just six students, the course will be small and with plenty of opportunity for individual study.
A nice place to work! Karolyi Castle
Here is the schedule:
Créativ' Harp, the francophone Swiss association led by Céline Gay des Combes and Elodie Wulliens, is holding an Irish Harp Weekend in Vevey, in the late autumn. Janet Harbison, doyenne of the Irish harp and our inspiration for the harp we named after her, will hold a course of group lever harp masterclasses between November 7th - 9th.
Students will also have the chance to share the stage with Janet, forming a harp orchestra to accompany her at the course closing concert in Clé-de Voûte, November 9th at 5PM.
Janet and harp orchestras are no strangers to each other - her ensemble The Irish Harp Orchestra is famous throughout the world, so you couldn't ask for a better ensemble-playing chance.
If the thought of performing in concert with Janet Harbison makes you feel thrilled but also - well, terrified, don't panic. The course is suitable for all levels, and the part you play in the final concert is guaranteed to be one you will also enjoy!
The deadline for inscriptions is September 15th, 2014. Download the application form below for more information.
You have two weeks to get your registration in for Arpa Horta, a lovely pedal harp course in the Catalan Horta de Lleida region. Now in its third edition, the course makes the most of its beautiful rural setting by taking place in all seasons - beginning in the spring (2012), then summer (2013), this year, in the autumn (October 24th - November 3rd), and next year the course will be in the winter. "The cycle", course director Berta Puigdemasa explains, "will allow participants to experience the passing of time through music and nature."
Arpa Horta's principal instructor is Isabelle Perrin, and she will be joined by Maria Lluïsa Ibáñez, and physiotherapist Bart Loomans. A musician's body is as much their instrument as their harp is, and one of Arpa Horta's established features is in-depth work with Bart, to prevent injury and develop as efficient and natural a technique as possible.
The admirable Katryna Tan and her Singapore studio, Rave Harps, are holding another event this week - this time in Malaysia. Penang is the setting for a harp retreat, offering the chance for a long weekend of intensive study with Katryna and the Rave Harps tutors. There will also be a concert of harp solo music, on July 5th.
We have now all returned from L'Académie Camac, the course with Germaine Lorenzini we've just held in the South of France. This has been a new project. In themselves, courses are not new for us: we sponsor many, but we had never done one like this.
More or less all courses aim to be a time for intensive study, new sources of inspiration, and a chance to focus without day-to-day distractions. They are like breaks from one kind of reality, in order to commune with another. This is the theory, but like many great ideas, it's not always so easy in practice. Courses under financial pressure have little option than to increase the number of students, and reduce the amount of lesson time. A large number of participants also almost always means sharing harps, which can be all right and can be really frustrating, depending on the ratio of students to instruments. There are many walks of life where, for all there may be a lot of pressure on you to economize, you cannot cut costs indefinitely without affecting the final result. The arts are particularly vulnerable to financial cuts because you have to invest in them, financially, in order to have riches that are profoundly valuable, but/and are not fiscal.
More than anything, we wanted our Académie be a holiday from day-to-day life, with all its conflicting demands and distractions. We wanted students to be able to come regardless of income, so we charged no fee. To facilitate intensive study, we kept the course small, and everyone had a full private lesson every day. We also had a harp and a practice room per student, so they could work peacefully without having to juggle time slots and instrument sharing.
We also wanted the course to be peaceful, because daily life in music is pressured in all sorts of ways. We decided against a compulsory formal concert at the end of the course, because this can mean you spend the whole course practicing for the course concert. Some students do however want topractice performing, so we had informal concerts before dinner every day instead, for those who who wished to play.
Here are some photos from L'Académie Camac - keep out an eye for regular additions...
It's nearly the end of the course! We're packing the harps in their boxes. All the boys had to gladly helped
Michael, the legend, joins in the lessons