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?

“Your best music teachers are with you everywhere —because these are your ears,” says Russian harpist and composer Maria Bubnova.

I started playing the harp when I was 6 years old. Now I am 13, so I have been with the harp for more than half of my life. My teacher Tatiana Erdeli-Schepalina is a representative of a famous Erdeli dynasty of harpists.

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

I heard the Sonata in F Minor by Jean-Baptiste Cardon during a performance of an adult harpist and fell in love with the music and the harmonics. That is why I decided to play it. I had been working on it for nearly one year before my first public performance. As for Albert Zabel, I selected the piece Warum, which is completely unknown and not played, at least in Russia. I find it very challenging technically and very beautiful musically while completely different from those famous Zabel’s pieces. I became acquainted with Absidioles by Bernard Andres when I was attending Suoni d’Arpa contest in Italy, I am fond of this very dynamic and contemporary piece.

Have you ever attended a World Harp Congress?

No, I was too young for that.

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

I have two options: either I am going to sleep until the evening concert as I have an overnight flight, or I will look for a harp to practice. I have heard that harps sound very differently in Hong Kong because of humidity level and I am curious to try.

Which harpist do you most admire, and why?

Ksenia Erdeli inspires me for a number of reasons: her more than 70-year career as a harpist, and her hard work and dedication. I have read her book of memoirs and I am fascinated by the efforts she undertook to promote the harp as a solo instrument—to enrich the harp repertoire with new transcriptions and inspire composers to create original harp music (like Gliere for example).

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

I’m not sure if Bernard Andres will be present at the congress but I would be happy to meet him. I have played many pieces he composed (“Kola” and “Muscade;” “Gigue” from Automates, Dances d’automne, Algues with flute, Sweet Blues, Absidioles and I am planning Duke for the next season) and I love them all very much. I think that Bernard Andres is an exceptional composer and harpist, it will be a big honor for me to shake his hand.

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

I have seen quite a number of magnificent performances in Moscow and St. Petersburg, which makes it rather difficult to choose one.

What’s your most memorable performing experience?

When I was 10 years old, I prepared a 12-minute program for my first International contest. My teacher was extremely satisfied with my performance and I was very happy to gain such experience.

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

As you start studying a new piece, learn the right fingering from the beginning and always position your hands correctly.

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

Your best music teachers are with you everywhere —because these are your ears.

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

The thing is that I am not only playing the music, but I am composing too. That is why I usually spend a good part of my free time on it. I am also keen on playing in a theatre school.

What’s on your playlist?

Actually, my playlist changes quite frequently. Now I have the opera Boris Godunov of Mussorgsky, best of Frank Sinatra and News of the World album of Queen, plus some Russian rock music.

Finish this sentence: In 10 years I see myself…

…In 10 years I see myself as a harpist of Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko opera and ballet theatre of Moscow (the second well-known musical theatre of Moscow after Bolshoi).

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 Maria Bubnova


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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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