The Great Outdoors

I am no stranger to outdoor adventures with the harp. I’ve played outdoor weddings at ski resorts, serenaded Appalachian Trail hikers, and performed on a river bank with fly fishermen casting in the background. Wrapped in a cloak against the October chill at a Renaissance fair reception, I saw Shakespeare emcee the event. He politely stopped the music at one point to make an announcement, and then he actually cued us back in with a dramatic wave of the arm and the line, “If music be the food of love, play on!” At another Renaissance fair wedding, the bride and groom put the rings in a replica of the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch and had a reading from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

But the most memorable outdoor wedding I’ve played was on a golf course. There was only grass near the wedding site, and for a complicated set of reasons, the venue wasn’t able to provide any sort of hard surface I required for my harp. I ended up bringing my own wooden platform, and the resort put up a small pavilion for the harp, so we set up under that. After getting the platform and my full-size pedal harp down a hill, we were ready to start. The wind was so strong that the flutist had to play with one foot on the music stand to keep it from blowing over and taking a chunk out of my harp. But that proved to be the least of our problems.

As the couple began to exchange rings, a huge gust of wind blew over the canopy of the pavilion above my head. The stakes pulled out of the ground, and the pavilion whooshed away, its metal supports clanging into the arbor where the couple stood. It missed the top of my concert grand by inches.

Astonishingly, the officiant didn’t miss a syllable. Some guests jumped up and moved the fallen pavilion, and we somehow got through the ceremony. Not long after, I bought a 27-pound folk harp that I can sling over my shoulder. I still love to play my concert grand, but not under pavilions. •

— Hannah Eagleson Hershey, Pa.


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