Q and A with Claire Thai


Leading up to the 13th World Harp Congress this July in Hong Kong, we’re talking with performers for the ever-popular WHC Focus on Youth showcase concerts. Check in each week as we present insights from these talented young artists.

Give us some background: when did you start playing, what’s your current age, and who do you study with?

I began my study of the harp at age 5, and am now 17. I study with Dr. Christine Vivona, Rachel Knight, and Dr. Carrol McLaughlin.

Tell us about your WHC program. How did you choose your repertoire and what do you like about the music?

I chose the “Carnival of Venice” because I saw a YouTube video of my favorite harpist, Catrin Finch,  playing it—I had to play it. I also enjoy my second piece, “Viejo Zortzico,” because of the interesting rhythms and beautiful melodic lines.

Have you ever attended a World Harp Congress?

I have not attended a World Harp Congress.

What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you get to Hong Kong?

I am going to go to the Hong Kong Flower Market; it’s a place where the streets are lined with green plants, orchids and huge bunches of flowers.

Which harpist do you most admire, and why?

I most admire Catrin Finch because of her incredible clarity and expression, and her confident stage presence. She has inspired me to work on my tone and making sure that every single note I play is as clear and deliberate as possible.

Which harpist are you most looking forward to meeting in person at the WHC?

I most look forward to meeting Catrin Finch.

What’s the most memorable musical performance you’e ever attended?

I attended a concert by Maria Luisa Rayan, and the amount of detail she put into every note of every piece was so inspiring to me. I was lucky enough to be able to perform for her in a master class the next day.

What’s your most memorable performing experience?

My most memorable performance was when I played the Dubois concerto with an orchestra—it is such a beautiful piece and fits so well for the harp.

What advice would you give a young student wanting to start harp?

Play music you love to play—life is too short to play music you don’t enjoy!

What’s the best piece of advice someone has ever given you?

Someone once told me, “I don’t get nervous anymore, because I just want to show the audience that singing is what I love to do most.” This mindset helped me overcome any performance nervousness because it is true, harp is what I love to do most.

When you’re not playing the harp what do you like to do?

I enjoy ballet dancing and playing video games, as well as drawing.

What’s on your  playlist?

I have a lot of alternative rock, rap, and lo fi hip hop on my phone, as well as a 114 hour playlist of my favorite classical music.

Finish this sentence: In 10 years I see myself…

…continuing harp performance.

To learn more about the World Harp Congress visit www.worldharpcongress.org.
To register for the 13th World Harp Congress July 7–13 2017 in Hong Kong, visit www.whc2017.org.

Listen to Claire Thai


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The Harp Column Staff has been bringing you great editorial content, interviews, features, and reviews since 1993!

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