For the French readers among you, there's a new lever harp journal out - and it's free! You can download the first issue of Harpes Mag here: 37 pages of articles about Stéphan Lemoine, Andréa Seki, Jean-Luc Vaillant, Valérie Patte, and many more. The magazine also contains the sheet music for Seki's arrangement of Scarborough Fair.
For more information, contact the magazine's editor on firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Camac team are currently heading to the Edinburgh Festival (another event I'm pretty gutted to be missing) - and thinking about the lever harp in Scotland leads me to highlight a really great new lever harp blog by Tristan Le Govic. Celticharpblog.com does what it says in its name, is written in English and in French, and currently features a particularly interesting interview about string theory - or, why the world is like a giant lever harp.
For intelligent, wide-ranging writing about the lever harp, with particular focus on Celtic repertoire and pedagogy, look no further than the Celtic Harp Blog. There is also a page where you can join in and describe your top three lever harp recordings.
The Camac Voice of February is one of the artists who recently performed at Camac Ibérica’s birthday party in Madrid: François Pernel. The extract now playing on camac-harps.com is part of François’s own arrangement of J S Bach’s first cello Suite. The cello suites are tricky to bring off on the harp – perhaps because of the very different colour of bowed cello bass notes – and it’s impressive to hear this one, the most famous, so successful on the lever harp. If you like that, check out François’s SoundCloud page, where you'll find everything from a Vivaldi-based classical waltz mix, to "Irish groove", "Celtic Breton jazz", and "Rachman'hip'hop".
Despite the sound of its name, traditional music is an exceptionally creative medium, adapting and adopting whatever musical styles it finds and likes. In the lever harp world alone, you’ll find so-called “Celtic” music (itself native to at least five different countries and traditions) married to classical, jazz, world music, rock, pop, electronica and the avant-garde. With its spirit of constant discovery, this music is anything but entombed in aspic, and proves that tradition is as much a question of individual talent as anything else.
François Pernel is one of the lever harp’s most individual talents. Composer, arranger, performer and teacher, his music is distinguished by a particularly skilful appropriation of diverse influences. He has released more than a dozen albums - which you can order here, or download as MP3s - from his composition ‘Gnossienne’ in homage to Eric Satie, to his album ‘Harpe Corps’, on which all the tracks feature amplification and sound processing in one way or another.
Another long-established harp festival (2013 will be its thirty-second year) has also just released its full programme: you can now explore the 2013 Edinburgh International Harp Festival online! In fact, I think it's the best festival website I've ever seen, with not only exhaustive information about this year's festival, but interesting archive sections and a great blog.
The lever harp - in all its huge and hugely creative diversity - is at the heart of the festival, as is the way it is a place where professionals and amateurs can get together on very equal terms. As important as the concerts are the huge number of courses, workshops and late-night sessions where anyone can join in: whatever your level of experience, you will find new sources of inspiration, friendship and joy in making music. There are also special events and courses for children, and is also a big harp exhibition. On the subject of instrument manfacture, another theme that's really caught our attention is the festival's "resonating string" series of concert and workshops. These will track developments in the construction, repertoire and performance techniques of harps from Medieval to MIDI - our own MIDI harp will be visiting the festival, with Arnaud Roy.
Wow! You can download the full brochure here.
Edmar Castaneda, pictured here at the 2012 festival, will be returning to Edinburgh for the second year running
Elisi (Handcraft) brings together two classically trained Turkish harpists, Sirin Pancaroglu and Meriç Dönük, together with Jarrod Cagwin, an American percussionist who has made Istanbul his home. This predominantly improvisationalproject is based on traditional Turkish music. They also intertwine elements of classical, contemporary, jazz and fusion.
Alexander Granados, director of Camac Ibérica, greets the public at the Real Conservatorio Supérior de Musica de Madrid
Jakez and Eric report from Madrid that Camac Ibérica have had a super first birthday party! A full house awaited Gabriella Dall'Olio and François Pernel's recital in the auditorium of the Real Conservatorio Supérior de Musica de Madrid, and the two artists were applauded wonderfully by their delighted public. Gabriella and François even concluded their shared concert together, improvising on Paul Lewis's Saturday Night Jazz Suite. Here are some photographs of the concert, plus the ensuing day of successful masterclasses. A big muchas gracias to Gabriella, François and to everyone who came in such numbers to both events!
Waiting for it all to begin
Many thanks to Corrina Hewat for news just in about the annual harp village in Cromarty, in the Highlands of Scotland. It's an ideal opportunity to spend time playing fine music, enjoying sessions and concerts, eating freshly caught seafood, and drinking ale and whisky. 2013's weekend (Friday, September 27th - Sunday, September 29th 2013) will feature Corrina Hewat, Patsy Seddon and Mary Macmaster as tutors, and it is also possible to borrow harps if transport would otherwise be an issue.
Nikolaz Cadoret is a rising star in the Celtic harp firmament. The photo above was taken during his performance at the longue nuit de la harpe during our festival in Ancenis, where he wowed us with his technical virtuosity and musical creativity, fusing traditional music with jazz and other contemporary styles.
Nikolaz will be appearing at our Paris showroom, l'Espace Camac, on November 18th as part of our "Carte blanche" series of masterclasses and concerts. The afternoon workshop (from 10AM to 5PM) is open to those who have studied lever harp for at least three or four years, and will focus on playing by ear (in a group), arranging music and improvisation. After this, Nikolaz will show us how it's done with a solo performance at 6PM. As ever, the event is entirely FREE but places are limited (particularly for the workshop), so please make your reservations with Claude on email@example.com.
In 2000, Jakez reworked our lever harp catalogue to make it clearer, particularly with regard to the names of the harps. Models before this time can still be a source of confusion. The harps were worked on a lot, which resulted better harps, but also in a rather complicated list of models often with the same strings and ranges, yet different.
To help with any confusion particularly regarding second-hand models from our earlier ranges, David Rescher of the Harfengalerie Camac Berlin has written a German-language explanation of the background to the present-day Mélusine and Korrigan, plus a summary of our current range, in response to questions on the German harp site harfenforum.de. I've made an English version for Harpblog. Never do any work someone else has already done, better than you would.
The Morgane, with its thirty-four strings, was the first larger lever harp made by Camac, in the 1970s (prior to this, we manufactured a leverless Bardic harp with a four-cornered soundboard and in quasi-Guinness style. It was also available in kit form, and very popular throughout the 1970s). The Morgane was built to be strung in nylon (A01 – D26), with bass wires (C27 – C34), offered with a choice of flat feet or taller legs, and a four-cornered soundbox. The Morgane remained in production until 2001.
At the end of the 1970s, Camac added their Mélusine model to their range. This harp had 36 strings, 2 more than the Morgane, in the bass (H35 and A36). It was also strung with nylon and wires and had a similar four-cornered soundbox. The Mélusine came into being following requests from Breton harpers, who wanted a greater bass range.
The Mélusine de Concert, developed in the 1980s, had a round and bigger soundbox, and a correspondingly bigger sound. The first Concert Mélusines still had a carbon fibre soundboard, with which Camac’s founder, Joël Garnier, had been experimenting in this decade.
Brigitte Baronnet is giving a concert in her home town of Chateaubriant on October the fifth, to celebrate her now fifty years on the concert stage! As you can see from the flyer above, she'll be joined by some friends, who also encompass some of the most famous names in the Breton celtic scene. From Myrdhin, Mariannig Larc'hantec and Catherine Nguyen, to Brigitte's own pupils - among them rising stars Clothilde Trouillaud and Vincianne Tronson - it promises to be a delightful celebration of the lever harp in Brittany.
Our factory and head offices are in Brittany, and it was lever harps that Joël Garnier first began to manufacture. The Mélusine was Joël's first lever harp, developed with the help of Mariannig Larc'hantec in 1976. If you are interested in the history of Camac's lever harp models, David Rescher from the Harfengalerie Camac Berlin has excellently summarised it here, and I've ripped it to make an English version, here (links).
It is no coincidence that Joël Garnier began harp making thanks to folk music, for Brittany has been at the heart of the Celtic revival, and particularly for the harp. Like many folk revivals, the French Celtic revival actually began in cosmopolitan, intellectual surroundings: Paris. It was a politico-intellectual movement born amongst the Paris Breton intelligentsia between the first and second World Wars: until 1950, there was only one harper in Brittany, Paul Le Diverres. The return to Breton "roots" was pan-Celtic, copying other Celtic countries, and the harp was seized upon as an instrument symbolising the heart of Ireland. Historically, the Irish had had to burn their harps when the English invaded; he who kept his harp did so in peril of his life. The harp therefore became a symbol of resistance for those who still had one. It was in this spirit that the harp was reborn among the Bretons in Paris, as a symbol of resistance against the French State. More specifically, it was one Madame Erwanez Galbrun, who gave correspondance courses in Breton from Paris, who particularly encouraged the revival of the harp.
Brigitte Baronnet was one of the first members of Telenn Bleimor, the Paris-based Breton harp ensemble established by Denise Mégevand. Mégevand - herself classically trained, a pupil of Lily Laskine - had been contacted by, among others, Alan Stivell's father Georges Cochevelou and Brigitte Baronnet's mother, looking for a lever harp teacher for their children. Mégevand arranged the music for Telenn Bleimor herself, inspired by the Barzaz Breiz traditional Breton songs, and other Celtic airs. Telenn Bleimor was above all an organisation designed to promote the lever harp. The harps were provided at no cost, and by the 1960s, Brigitte and her student colleagues were performing regularly in and around Paris, particularly in the conservatoires. Through its appearances in educational institutions, it was Telenn Bleimor which introduced the idea of using the lever harp as a practical beginner's intrument to harp teachers of the time. Below is a more detailed history of Telenn Bleimor, written by Brigitte and reproduced here with her kind permission.