—by Meghan Caulkett
One harpist’s quest to take the harp out of the concert hall.
Two years ago, I founded 47 Strings, an innovative harp concert series. What makes this music program unique is that we present concerts around the Houston area for those who are not normally exposed to harp music. By taking the harp out of the formal concert hall setting and performing in a wide variety of venues and neighborhoods, we have reached a diverse group of listeners. Within the last two years, I have presented over 30 solo harp and chamber music concerts all around Houston, Texas. Performances have taken place at an AIDS clinic in Montrose, homeless shelters in Downtown and East Houston, and in the waiting room of The Texas Children’s Cancer Center in the Medical Area. Community concerts have occurred in Midtown and at Rice University. And seniors have been introduced to the harp in Midtown and West Houston. Ages of audience members range from only 18 months to seniors in their 90s. The vast majority of the listeners are lower-class, and are often homeless or in extreme poverty. They are frequently Hispanic, African-American, or another minority group. 47 Strings works to make an individual connection with every audience member regardless of age, race, or socio-economic status through original programming that presents specific pieces and pertinent information based on the audience’s age and previous music knowledge.