The Dutch Harp Festival is now in full swing, here in Utrecht!
The quarter-finals of the competition took place over the past two days—Wednesday and Thursday. Nineteen competitors played their set programs consisting of a prelude of their choice by J.S. Bach, the Hindemith sonata, and the middle movement of the concerto they will play in the final round (accompanied by piano). As per the rigorous rules and regulations of the Dutch Harp Competition, the jury was positioned behind a screen during this first round. When the results came in last night, it was announced that only six are continuing on to the semi-final round. See the results here. As I type now, the semi-finals are already in progress. This round, the jury will enjoy a full view of the performance, and the competitors have the opportunity to present their unique strengths in a free-choice program of 45 minutes.
The opening concert of the festival was pulled off with spectacular effect last night. Audience members packed into the great hall of the gothic Dom cathedral in the center of Utrecht to witness the first of many stories to come on the festival: the Death of Poe. Unlike at any normal harp recital, attendees found themselves entering an immersive world. From the moment they entered the hall, their curiosity was peaked by the sights and sounds they discovered within. Top-level musical artistry from Isabelle Moretti, Sivan Magen, Gwyneth Wentink, and many more excellent musicians, combined with inspired stage production, made a powerful combination.
Moving quickly on to the late-night concert after that, we were treated to the results of a fun experiment: bringing together three of Holland’s best singer-songwriters with harpists and seeing what results from their collaboration. Each of the three pairings produced a unique dynamic on stage. It was eye-opening and fun to see where their musical explorations led.
After even just the first night of the festival program, I already feel renewed with a surge of inspiration for what can be possible on the harp. This is going to be an exhilarating week.