Harps by the Hundred

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The anatomy of a massive harp concert.

—by Anamae Anderson and Marilyn B. Dodson

It’s 4:30 on a Saturday morning, and the city is quiet. Most sane people are still in bed. The sky is dark, and the sun has yet to peek above the horizon. It is the calm before the storm.

In a matter of hours, hundreds will gather here for a massive 143-harp concert in the Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. The performance is the result of the collaboration of 15 dedicated harp teachers with one vision: to bring together Suzuki harp students in Utah to celebrate the joy of music and create a unique sense of community across all levels, ages, and studios.

As teachers, we’ve all worked tirelessly on our parts, choosing repertoire, making rehearsal recordings, writing narration, directing rehearsals, communicating with parents, and making sure every student is prepared. Sometimes the effort involved felt like it was too much and we swore we’d never undertake something so insane again. Then the big day arrived and we worried that all those hours of preparation might not be enough.

4:45 a.m. West Temple, normally one of the busiest streets in Salt Lake City, only sees a few cars at this hour. However, today is different. This quiet thoroughfare is about to see a small army of harpists arrive with a fleet of 143 harps in tow. We and a few other teachers arrive with the first wave of harps. It takes us nearly an hour to prepare for the rest of the student harp arrivals. We post directional signs, and color code everything to make sure everything and everyone ends up in the right place.

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