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 grew up in London and started playing the harp at the age of 7 having studied the piano for two years already with my mother. I’m 19 now and am in my second year studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London with Karen Vaughan.
Tell us about your WHC program. How did you choose your repertoire and what do you like about the music?
I chose the Grandjany Fantasie on a Theme by Haydn as it works really well as an opening piece—it shows off what the harp can do and also warms up the fingers! Renie’s “Contemplation” is one of my favourite pieces to perform, the harmonies and melodies work so beautifully. Finally I wanted to play a piece by a UK composer so I chose William Mathias’s Santa Fe Suite. It’s a wonderful piece and the “Sun Dance” is such an exciting finale.
Have you ever attended a World Harp Congress?
This will be my first—I’m especially excited as I’ve never visited anywhere in Asia before either.
What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you get to Hong Kong?
I’m looking forward to trying lots of the cuisine and just generally soaking up the atmosphere.
Which harpist do you most admire, and why?
So many! One of my favourites is Sylvain Blassel, I love his musicality. I’m also really inspired by Marie-Pierre Langlamet, Sivan Magen, and Isabelle Moretti.
Which harpist are you most looking forward to meeting in person at the WHC?
All of them—I’m looking forward to meeting many new harpists as well as seeing people I’ve met before.
What’s the most memorable musical performance you’ve ever attended, and why?
I couldn’t possibly choose just one…having grown up in London I’ve been lucky enough to see so many amazing performances both by soloists and orchestras.
What’s your most memorable performing experience, and why?
My performances with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain were all memorable, I think that’s when I first completely knew that I wanted to pursue the harp as a career—leading Stravinsky’s Petrushka at the Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Proms was really exciting.
What advice would you give a young student wanting to start harp?
First go and have a harp lesson—if you like it then think about renting one and then practise and persevere!
What’s the best piece of advice someone has ever given you?
To believe in hard work, and to not believe in miracles. (Also thumbs up, elbows out, and relax!)
When you’re not playing the harp what do you like to do?
Spending time with friends—I love going out to eat and trying new food.
What’s on your playlist?
All sorts; it depends on my mood—artists I will never tire of include Nina Simone, Amy Winehouse, Desmond Dekker, Erykah Badu, Marvin Gaye and of course lots of classical music too.
Finish this sentence: In 10 years I see myself…
I would love to still be living in London and doing a variety of things, both orchestral and solo playing and lots of traveling.