Sunita Staneslow has been reporting from the Israel Harp Contest for Harp Column since 2001, giving her a unique perspective on the evolution of the instrument’s most storied competition and its young stars. She shares her thoughts on the prestigious event.
(This article is a companion to our feature interview, Crowning Achievement.)
What was it like behind the scenes for those who came to listen and be inspired? For me, I felt as though I entered a different world and traveled back in time. For the first time, the International Harp Contest in Israel was held in the northern coastal city of Akko, a 90–minute drive from Tel Aviv. Parking was outside of the Old City of Akko, just next to the sea. Early winter in Israel can be stormy, and we had several days of billowing clouds and at least one thunder storm. We walked through the stone gateway and into a courtyard and garden, past ancient trees and vines to listen to the first three stages of the Contest in the city’s historic Knights’ Hall. The building was constructed during the Crusades and is steeped in history. It has been converted into a museum and is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is truly a romantic place, and the harps all looked stunning against the backdrop of the hall’s vaulted stone ceilings, although it was not the most comfortable venue for the audience seated on plastic chairs.