Q and A with Lara Somogyi

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely heard of Netflix’s hit series Bridgerton. If you’re anything like us here at Harp Column, you may have noticed something unusual in the background of one of the opening episodes: a harp. Who is responsible for the harp music in the show? None other than Lara Somogyi! No stranger to the world of film and television, Somogyi has performed for productions such as Green Book, When They See Us, Will & Grace, Coming 2 America, and more. Recording the music for Bridgerton is one of her latest ventures. We caught up with her to hear more about the process.

Bridgerton is a hit! It must have been exciting to be a part of the show. Can you tell us more about the experience?

It was such an honor to be part of the series! I recorded the harp on all eight episodes of the soundtrack by composer Kris Bowers, though I was not featured on screen. The episodes were filmed in the United Kingdom and there were quite a few harpists featured on screen including Elizabeth Green and Ruby Aspinall, among others. I got a call to record and everyone recorded themselves from their home studios. There were maybe around 25 players. We were all separate but it was so special to be able to record remotely. I’m in awe of the composer and the entire team of mixers, orchestrators, and copyists who made this score come together during a pandemic. I feel extremely lucky to be a part of it!

“I recorded each episode from my home studio,” Somogyi says.

What was the music like? Did you have any favorite parts of recording?

The music was so extremely beautiful! Kris Bowers is incredible. My favorite tune was one called “Feeling Exceptional” where I had fast, sweeping 16th-note arpeggios. It was a blast!

This isn’t your first time performing for a television series. Any memorable experiences you’d like to share?

Yes! I love recording for film and television and feel so grateful to be a part of some incredible shows! Some other shows I’ve been a part of are Mrs. AmericaLittle Fires EverywhereWhen They See Us, and Will & Grace. One of my favorite moments recording on a show was at the Capitol Records recording the “I Love Lucy” episode of Will & Grace. We got to record all the iconic scenes from the episode and the cast came in to listen! On a 10-minute break, I was doing some practice in my isolation booth and Sean Hayes came in and asked if we could do a “bit” together! Experiencing his vibrant energy in person was exhilarating!

Another memorable experience for me was recording for Little Fires Everywhere because it was written by Mark Isham and Isabella Summers, from Florence + the Machine. She’s the “machine” and has written some of my favorite songs! It was really fun recording reverbs, shimmers, delays, and all sorts of sounds on that series. I used two harps on that session, which was a huge treat.

“It was really fun recording shimmers, delays, and all sorts of sounds,” Somogyi says of her Capitol Records recording session.

Are there any tips or tricks you have for harpists in this field?

Something super useful that we did at the Royal Academy of Music was sightreading class. I would say practice sightreading as much as you can! Most of the time when you are recording, you don’t see the music ahead of time and you have to mark it up, pedal it, and read it on the spot. Each session is different every time. Study your favorite scores as it will give you insight into the writing styles of your favorite composers.

To learn more about Somogyi, visit her website. You can also read our feature with Somogyi in the January-February 2020 issue of Harp Column magazine.

 

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About Author

Hannah Palmquist is a freelance harpist and teacher based in Saint Paul, Minn. She is the associate editor at Harp Column. Hannah earned her doctorate from the University of Minnesota and is passionate about chamber music.

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