Harp Goes Hip Hop

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Laura Sherman

Currently the harpist for Wicked on Broadway, Laura Sherman is also the founder of Gotham Harp Publishing, specializing in historically informed transcriptions of early music and new works by contemporary composers. During her 30 years in New York City, she has performed with many of the top freelance orchestras, subbed on numerous Broadway shows, recorded on diverse films, commercials, and sound recordings, and performed solo and chamber music recitals. Her website is www.wickedharp.com.

—by Laura Sherman

One of the exciting things about being a freelance harpist in New York City is the variety of gigs that I get asked to play. Being conversant in a wide variety of musical styles is an absolute must in this city. One type of music that I never imagined playing on the harp was hip-hop, so when I was invited to play on the cast recording of the new, hip-hop influenced Broadway show Hamilton last summer, I knew it was going to be a unique experience.

Here’s how Broadway cast recordings usually go: the cast and musicians perform a slightly condensed version of the show in just a couple of sessions, in order to keep the length of the recording and its costs down. That’s largely how it went for the cast recording we made for Wicked, the show I regularly play.

So when I found out that Alex Lacamoire, Hamilton’s brilliant music director and orchestrator, had scheduled two full weeks of recording in Manhattan’s top studio, Avatar Studios, with multiple sessions each day, with Questlove (of the Roots and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon fame), as one of the executive producers, I knew this project was going to be different.

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