Carolyn Munford and Vonda Darr present “An Evening in Paris”

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International travel has been nearly impossible for the last year, but harpists Carolyn Munford and Vonda Darr will take their audience on a musical journey to France during their “An Evening in Paris” program. Part of the Savannah Philharmonic’s retooled 2021 season, the concert features French classics, including Debussy’s Clair de lune, selections from Salzedo’s Suite of Eight Dances, and a duet version of Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro. Munford and Darr are also premiering a duet version of Miguel del Aguila’s contemporary work Submerged. The concert takes place on  Jan. 22 at Skidaway Island United Methodist Church in Savannah, Georgia. We caught up with Munford and Darr to learn more about their upcoming performance.

Tell us a bit about the program. How did this idea come about?

Munford: The Savannah Philharmonic reached out to me and asked if I would present a concert as part of their “re-imagined” 2021 season. I immediately asked Vonda to play with me, and we began brainstorming repertoire. Vonda and I have been playing together almost 20 years. Our duo began when I was her harp student and she taught me some of these classic harp duets like the Salzedo Dances and Prelude, Fugue, and Variations by Franck. We have played many duo recitals over the years and I am so grateful we have the opportunity to collaborate this year, in spite of COVID-19.

This is one of the first in person events of 2021! Will there also be a livestream component?

Munford: This concert will not be livestreamed, unfortunately, but it will be recorded and we are hoping to share some footage after the concert. If you are able to follow The Savannah Philharmonic’s Instagram page, we will be taking over on the day of the concert to share some behind-the-scenes footage from rehearsal.

Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro for two harps sounds fabulous! Did you two arrange this piece or was it pre-arranged?

Darr: This is an existing arrangement by Clifford Wooldridge. Harp one plays the original harp part, and harp two plays a beautiful arrangement of the chamber ensemble.

How have rehearsals been during the pandemic? How long did you spend preparing for this performance?

Darr: We have been rehearsing separately since the program was finalized in late November. We will be rehearsing together the week of the program.

What is your favorite piece on the program?

Darr: There are many of my favorites on this program, but the most exciting one to me is Submerged by Miguel del Aguila. He is a contemporary composer that I became familiar with when we recorded some of his pieces with the Augusta Symphony before the shutdown. He is a very gifted writer for the harp, and he and I have corresponded many times about his pieces. He is able to capture so many facets of the harp, and is very knowledgeable and invested in our instrument!

Munford: I am also very excited to perform Submerged. I love the energy, character, and story behind this piece. This will actually be the world premiere of the harp duo version of this music. To the composer’s knowledge, it has never been performed before!

To learn more about the performance and purchase tickets, visit The Savannah Philharmonic’s website.

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