Music Review—Sparkling New Works

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From levers to pedals, new repertoire for all to enjoy.

Jan Jennings is Music Review Editor for Harp Column.

Jan Jennings is Music Review Editor for Harp Column.

 

Many pedal harpists are familiar with the glissy solo piece, “Great Day,” from Nancy Gustavson’s Sparklers collection. It has even been used as a crowd-pleasing unison ensemble piece with great success. Until now, however, lever harpists haven’t been able to play along. Stanley Guy has changed that with his second harp accompaniment to the pedal harp solo, published by Gustavson Music Publications.

This new duet version includes both the original solo arrangement as well as the second harp part. There is no score, but it isn’t absolutely necessary, especially since most harp duos and ensembles don’t have the luxury of a conductor! Unfortunately, the second harp part comes staple-bound to the first part, so you cannot just pull out each part. The second part also does not include any pedal or lever change notation. It’s actually easier to play on lever harp because you can pre-set the fifth- and sixth-octave Cs to sharp and leave them throughout the piece, although this is not indicated on the music. No other changes are necessary. Pedal harp players will need to move the C pedal back and forth several times, and this should be written in the music.

The second harp part has measure numbers, but the first part does not (as in the original). Fortunately, Mr. Guy laid out the music with the exact same number of measures per line as Mrs. Gustavson did, so it makes rehearsing easier (“start at the fourth measure of line three”).

The legend of special harp effects from the original Sparklers publication is included as an insert, though the list should be edited for this part since not all the special effects are used. These are minor issues that hopefully, can be corrected on subsequent printings.

The second harpist’s hands move in concert with the first harpist’s hands (minus the glisses) so this can help keep a steady beat in case the first harp players get a little carried away! For example, where harp 1 plays descending glisses on each beat of the measure, the second harp plays the same top note on each beat. The second harp part plays octaves in the bass along with harp one, but plays block chords instead of the strummed short (or long) glisses.

It’s easy to overlook the need for a few printing improvements, as this is a very nice accompaniment to a piece that is fun to play. Thanks to Stanley Guy for providing this option!

There is a lovely new original solo for lever or pedal harp by Brook Boddie, recently published by Seraphim Music. The title, “Upon the Willows,” is taken from Psalm 137: 2. Just two pages in length, this music is sight-readable for the intermediate to advanced player.

Written in E-flat, there are no lever or pedal changes. The left hand accompaniment is mostly an arpeggiated style that gives movement to the piece. The right hand melody is single notes, thirds, and sixths. No fingering is provided, but the notes fall logically in the hands. The A-B-A format is simple and sweet. The music is printed on heavy card stock and the typesetting is easy to read.

This would be an appropriate piece for almost any occasion where a soothing, pretty melody would be welcome.

Ann Lobotzke has self-published “Crown Imperial Coronation March” by Sir William Walton for pedal harp. This was used as the recessional for the wedding of Prince William and Katherine Middleton.

This is a bright and energetic piece in 2/4. Fingering is noted where it is most helpful. It is just two pages, but there is a repeat of the entire first page making it long enough to get a large wedding party back down the aisle! All pedal changes are clearly marked in the middle of the staff where they won’t be missed. The typesetting is easy to read and printed on sturdy card stock. The music is not difficult and includes a lot of octaves in the bass and some large chords in the right hand. Ms. Lobotzke tried to stay as close to Walton’s original chords as possible. Intermediate to advanced players should be able to sight-read through this.

This is a useful addition to the wedding recessional repertoire and would be a good choice for formal church weddings or other grand exits!

In addition to this new pedal harp arrangement, Ms. Lobotzke has also recently published three traditional pieces for lever or pedal harp. Although space limitations don’t allow an in-depth discussion here, you may want to check out these very playable arrangements. Contact your favorite harp vendor to find the Shaker hymn “Simple Gifts,” “Carolan’s Concerto,” and “Auld Lang Syne.” Let’s hope Ann Lobotzke will continue to publish new arrangements for us. •

Jan Jennings is the music review editor for Harp Column and is the author of The Harpist’s Complete Wedding Guidebook and Effortless Glissing. You can e-mail her at mail@harpbiz.com.

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Jan Jennings is the music review editor for Harp Column and is the author of The Harpist’s Complete Wedding Guidebook and Effortless Glissing. You can email her at mail@harpbiz.com.

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