Touring harp, touring harpist

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Swedish artist Laleh Pourkarim (currently living in Los Angeles!) had the awesome idea to bring a small symphony orchestra on tour in November 2016. Together with the amazing conductor Hans Ek (the man behind the beautiful arrangement of “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall that Patti Smith performed at the Nobel Prize Ceremony) they picked musician to this orchestra with experience of improvisation and pop music performance, and of course I was so thrilled to be the harpist they asked!

We played a beautiful show in nine arenas all over Sweden, from Skellefteå in the north, to Malmö in the south, with the highlight being a show in the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm with almost 13000 in the audience. Such a great experience for me, on so many levels I feel so lucky to be invited to do this tour with this great band.

During the tour, I learned a couple of things that I wanted to share with you. Please fill in if you have had similar (or different!) experiences.

  1. On this particular tour, we used my own harp. It is great to play on a familiar harp, but suddenly questions about insurance, transport trunk, trolley for the trunk and if I can live without my Harpo trolley for a month, arise. I had to make a plan. We played shows on weekends and I actually had some other gigs during week, so I had to plan how to use my other harp, with a borrowed trolley etc. Worth thinking about.
  2. My new best friend: the harp roadie. I wasn’t allowed to move (my own!) harp. I was just supposed to show up before the gig, enter stage, play the gig, leave stage. Of course it is nerveracking! And how was I supposed to warm up, practice… So my new BFF, the harp roadie, was my key to success! (Never ask the tour manager if you can enter the stage early, he will never allow you. Ask your BFF).
  3. My second BFF: The sound engineer. How do you become his/her best friend? Have an electric harp. They will, of course, tell you that they can mic anything, but the smiles on their faces when they discovered: no leakage, just clean, pure harp signal that they can play around with. You will be heard. And loved, forever.

I truly hope this is a wind of change that will swipe the world, pop artists bringing orchestras on tour. It was great, the reviews we got was great, and it was a more or less sold out tour. And it was so great to be part of a crew that didn’t hesitate to bring a harp on tour!

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