Recital review: Princeton Harp Festival – Addi & Jacq

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Let me begin by saying that I am a HUGE Addi & Jacq fan… I came across their music before the 2015 Battle of the Boroughs win (click the link to see their award winning performance!) and have been musically obsessed with them since that time.  I was so excited to see them perform tonight, and they DID NOT disappoint!

Day 2 of the Princeton Harp Festival has left me feeling invigorated, inspired, and excited to get back to my instrument and Addi & Jacq were the cherry on that ice cream sunday of magic!

Recital breakdown:

The first half of this evenings recital featured 4 local harpists (and one flutist!) performing in an array of styles: Elizabeth Huston—–Elizabeth Huston began the evening with a stunning performance of “Starscape” by composer Jan Krzywicki (check out this video Liz playing this exciting piece of American music).  This piece of new music glittered in the hands of Liz; even after a string popped during her performance she was collected, cool, and confident on stage.
Robbin Gordon-CartierRobbin Gordon-Cartier (click the link to see the 2000 Harp Column interview with Robin!) brought things back down to earth with a rousing rendition of “Summertime” by George Gershwin and finished off her set with a quick and adept modulation straight into “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” arranged by Frank Voltz.  Before performing Robin explained to the audience that in agreeing to be a part of this concert she wished to share two of the things that she loves the most: summertime and God.  Her performance was full of joy, expression, and some truly lovely playing on the Camac Excalibur harp.
Odarka StockertOdarka Stockert has to be one of my favorite people that I have met at this festival.  A singer-songwriter-harpist, she regaled the audience with a stunningly beautiful original work titled “Circles” and an arrangement (of her own) of the American ballade “Lakes of Pontchatrain.”  Her haunting voice combined with the shimmering loveliness of her harp arrangement and her absolutely kind, open, and fun-loving personality will stick with me long after I return to Miami.
Merynda Adams and flutist John RomeriMerynda Adams, with NYC based flutist John Romeri closed the first half of the program with two movements from Astor Piazzolla’s “Histoire du Tango.”  Their performance stunned me.  I know the piece well (and recorded it with my fiancé and duo partner as a part of our first album last year) and for that reason I often feel strangely when I hear it performed.  That was not the case this evening (when you know a piece so intimately it is difficult to be objective to another musicians interpretation).  Their performance was full of life, excitement, and most importantly, movement.  John Romeri stunned with some of the most characteristic playing that transitioned seamlessly from straight forward to improvisational in feel.  Merynda’s use of dynamic contrast and forward motion kept me not only engaged but on the edge of my seat throughout the performance.  Together they have brought new life to this piece for me… and I cannot wait to get home and play it again!

And then there was Addi & Jacq…

IMG_1874There is little I could possibly say here that any person with a heart and a brain couldn’t come to themselves in attending a performance by Addi & Jacq.  Their music is great because it is at once catchy and soulful.  They seem to have managed to take the heart and soul of blues, jazz, and classical and shove it inside of a pop exterior.  They opened with my favorite song from their first album, “Kinda Funny,” and from there things just got more and more spectacular!!  One of my favorite parts of the evening was when Addi explained one of their newer projects: to write a song for every bridge that connect Manhattan to the outside world (did you know that there are over 2,000 of said bridges!?!?!!? Holy cow!).  They performed one of these bridge songs, “Garden State,” which might just be my new favorite of theirs!!

One of the most engaging things about Addi & Jacq is their stage presence.  With nothing but two harps, a microphone and a metric ton of tech equipment that ranges from looping pedals, vocal harmony machine, and distortion pedals (oh, and a double bass bow) they manage to create a sound that easily competes with a full band ensemble (guitar, bass, and drums all accomplished through vocal and harp effects in combination with technology).  Who needs drums when you can pound on the soundboard of a harp and then hit the looping pedal to keep it going throughout the song?  Guitar?  Over-rated… Jacq can toss on a distortion pedal and sound just like a guitar… only better.  Need a drone or low bass note that would usually be played on electric bass?  No worries, just bring out the bass bow and saw away at a wire string!  Horns?  No need.  Addi can replicate a trumpet with her voice!

Addi and Jacq with harpist Kristina Finch

Addi and Jacq with harpist Kristina Finch

All in all I walked away from this concert more excited than I was when I entered (and I didn’t think that was possible)!  Addi & Jacq represent some of the best of my generation of harpists and music makers… people who are out there making their own music, sharing it with the world and working their butts off to make their dreams come true.

If their music hasn’t found you yet I STRONGLY encourage you to seek it out.  Innovation requires support and through them there is the real opportunity to engage all new kinds of audiences and draw them to the harp.  Not only that but they are both truly lovely people who deserve every success that comes their way.  Check out their music and follow them on facebook, instagram, soundcloud, and twitter to keep up with everything that they are up to and to see when/if they are playing a live show near you!!

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Miami based Dr. of harp, gown-addict, lover of bulldogs, and fitness enthusiast.

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