Behind every twirling snowflake and pirouetting flower on stage in Tchaikovsky’s iconic Nutcracker ballet are the flying fingers of a harpist. Sometimes, if we are lucky, two harpists.

The music is what we all dream of—a gorgeous, exposed part with big juicy rolled chords, arpeggios that fall beautifully into our hands, and even our own cadenza. But our dreams quickly turn to nightmares in spots where the part is awkwardly written or we are scrambling to cover two parts on a single harp.

The Nutcracker is tough to crack on your own, but with some advice and edits from our experts, you will have the benefit of wisdom gained from over 1,000 performances behind you. So pull out your score, sharpen your pencil, and get your part ready for the upcoming Nutcracker season.

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About Author

Elizabeth was the Principal Harpist of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra from 1982 to 2017, after 6 years as harpist with the National Ballet of Canada. She teaches at UBC, the VSO School of Music, the VSO Institute and privately. In 2011, she was the Chair of the Host Committee for the World Harp Congress in Vancouver, and currently is President of the West Coast Harp Society/ BC Chapter of the AHS.


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