After five very intense days, the Dutch Harp Festival and Competition concluded with a grand finale concert on Sunday: No Harp, No Glory! The three finalists of the competition performed with the Ludwig orchestra, under the direction of Ed Spanjaard. For this final round, each competitor played the first movement of a concerto by either the Glière or Reineke, followed by a world premiere of Fantasia for harp and orchestra by Paul Patterson, and ended with a free-choice “storytelling” solo.
First Prize (€10,000 and concert tour in 2015, including a recording of one of the concerts of the tour): Juliana Myslov (United Kingdom)
Juliana Myslov additionally won the Audience Award (€ 2,500), which was presented by chairman of the board Henk de Breij. Also, she wins the prize for best interpretation of the piece Fantasia, presented by the composer Paul Patterson himself (this award was chosen by the jury).
Second Prize (€5,000): Markus Thalheimer (Germany)
Third Prize (€2,500): Shiho Minami (Japan)
Best known in the harp world for his solo suite Spiders, Paul Patterson has made a valuable contribution to the harp repertoire with his fun and rhythmic new concerto. The contestants had to learn Fantasia in a very short amount of time, though, since the piece was only just finished at the end of last year, and they didn’t receive the score until less than two months before the competition. Many of them reported finding it a nearly impossible challenge to prepare the concerto in such a short amount of time without even having an idea of what it would sound like. Nonetheless, Juliana Myslov blew the audience away with her riveting and solid performance entirely from memory. This young harpist from the United Kingdom, at the age of just 17, achieved a stunning victory this week. She unfortunately had to run off immediately after the award ceremony to catch a plane, so I have not been able to get an interview with her yet but plan to before long.
Fantasia was not the only new work for harp to be introduced during the concert. After the finalists had finished playing and the jury had exited the hall to cast their votes, artistic director Remy van Kesteren premiered Gaëtane by Herman van Veen. If you are starting to get curious about all this new repertoire, you will soon be able to watch the entire recording of No Harp, No Glory! on the festival’s YouTube channel.