10 things you don’t know about François Pernel


Harp Column’s Ten Things series is back! This time we’re catching up with some of the featured artists who’ll be appearing at the Princeton Harp Festival in just four weeks. First up, from France, François Pernel, scheduled to perform at the festival’s opening concert on Friday, Nov. 6. Watch for more featured artists in the coming weeks.

1 How do you keep your music creative and fresh?
It might sound strange, but I just don’t listen to music too much. I try not to use my brain too much. I am always composing “on the harp,” and my mind is directed to who I want to compose to. I am not looking for musical answers from outside. I just keep confident of my own feelings.

2 Not limited to the harp, who is your artistic inspiration?
Music: Stravinsky, Messiaen, Björk, Radiohead, Dominique A, Magma.
Books: Marguerite Duras, Samuel Beckett, Christian Bobin.

3 What is your favorite city?
Galway, Ireland

What is your most proud accomplishment?
My two composition books.

5 How do you unwind?
Walking along the Loire River.

6 What is your favorite place to perform?
I have been a street performer for a long time. It’s still very exciting for me to be performing in the street!

7 What is the last movie you watched?
Kumare! (And I loved it!)

8 What is the craziest thing you’ve ever experienced during a performance?
I was playing Furibondo from Haendel (Partenope) in a church with Alexis Vassiliev (counter tenor). Huge thunder. We finished the tune in the total darkness. I started to feel drops…. hail had filled the gutter and it was dripping on my harp in the middle of the church!

9 What are your gig bag essentials?
Tuning key, tuner, spare strings, CDs, books!

10 What’s the best advice you can give an aspiring harpist?
Be stubborn. Find the tools in the world to reveal the jewels hidden inside of you.


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