The USA International Harp Competition (USAIHC) will present its Spring Benefit Concert on Saturday, May 22 at 2:00 p.m. EDT. The livestreamed concert, 3x the Gold, features three gold medalists from previous USA International Harp Competitions. Maria Krushevskaya (Russia), Remy van Kesteren (The Netherlands), and Jana Boušková (Czech Republic) will perform works by Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Liszt, and Dvorak, along with a film soundtrack by van Kesteren on electric harp. Ticket sales for the event will benefit the 12th USA International Harp Competition, to be held in the summer of 2022 in Bloomington, Indiana. We caught up with Moya Wright, executive director of the USAIHC, to learn more about the program.
The benefit concert’s theme is “3x the Gold.” Tell us about the significance of this, and what inspired this program.
Here at the USA International Harp Competition we are already busy working towards the 12th Competition, which will be held in Bloomington, Indiana, June 29–July 9, 2022. Normally, in between our triennial competitions, the USAIHC also presents an annual concert series. But of course we have not been able to present any live concerts since the “lockdown” began in March 2020. One of the goals of the USAIHC is to promote appreciation of the harp and its repertoire, and so the concert series is an important part of that.
Although we do livestream stage III and IV of the competitions, we have not ventured into streaming other concerts so far. So this is a first for us, and when we were thinking of the program our first thought was to feature one of our gold medalists. But then it became obvious that this is such a great opportunity to reach a much wider audience worldwide, so it became a concert featuring not one but three of our gold medalists—3x the Gold! So this is a really rare opportunity to hear three gold medalists in one concert!
As for the timing of the concert—we purposely planned it for the end of May, as it is also a birthday tribute to our founder and artistic director, Susann McDonald, as she will be celebrating her 86th birthday on May 26.
What are some highlights of the program to listen for?
That’s a hard question, as every piece that each one of the three gold medalists plays is a highlight! All three harpists are playing music that is personally very meaningful to them. Maria Krushevskaya performs Walter-Kuhn’s Fantaisie on a theme from the opera Eugene Onegin by Tchaikovsky with superb virtuosity and passion. And this is one of the pieces she played in the final stage that won her the gold medal in 2007. And Remy van Kesteren will play his own composition: an alternative soundtrack to the film Red Turtle. His innovative sound on electric harp is mesmerizing. If I had to pick only one highlight number in Remy’s set, I would say my favorite is the intensely moving final number “She, she moves.” And finally, Jana Boušková’s virtuosity and musicianship in her transcription of Dvořák’s American Suite is spectacular. She admits she has a special affinity with Dvořák’s music, and has made this performance especially meaningful by adding historic photos of Dvořák and Prague, plus period photos of New York and other places Dvořák visited in the U.S., reflecting his fascinating musical journey from Prague to the U.S. So really there are so many highlights—definitely something for everyone!
Tell us more about Remy van Kesteren’s film soundtrack for electric harp. How did this project come about?
That is a fascinating story. The film Red Turtle is a 2016 animated fantasy drama filmed, directed, and written by Oscar winning Dutch director Michael Dudok de Wit. It tells the story of a man who becomes shipwrecked on a deserted island and meets a giant red female turtle. The film has no dialogue, and is a reflection on a deeper level of isolation, desire and man’s relationship with nature. Remy first wrote one single, “Amber,” while improvising when he was watching the movie. After talking to the director, this one piece evolved into a full “alternative” soundtrack. Dudok de Wit said about the alternative soundtrack, “Remy had a striking idea. For his music score he chose to focus on nature, on the different forces that nature exercises on us: water, fire, earth and air. His idea immediately appealed to me. My awe and love for nature were a huge motivation for writing The Red Turtle.” The expanded sound effects Remy produces on electric harp ultimately conjure up and express these forces in a stunning way.
How can listeners stream the concert?
It will be streamed on mandolin.com on Saturday, May 22 at 2:00 pm EDT, and on demand for 72 hours. Tickets start at $25, and the concert is 60 minutes long.
How will this fundraiser benefit the goals of the USAIHC?
Many people know about the solo harp competition we present every three years, but in fact the USAIHC is much more than a solo competition. We organize and present four ongoing programs—the triennial solo harp competition, a composition contest, a concert series and an educational program, Harp Start. All of these programs are part of the goal of the USAIHC: to inspire, promote, and sustain artistic excellence and foster broader appreciation of the harp and its repertoire.
I think many people are not aware that the USAIHC is actually an independent non-profit 501(c)3 organization, and that we have to raise funds for every competition, and for our ongoing programs in between the competition years. In fact 70 percent of our funding comes from individual donors. Supporting our 3x the Gold concert helps us fund many expenses, such as bringing jury members to judge the 2022 competition, presenting laureate concerts, streaming stage III and IV of the competition, and organizing and presenting our ongoing educational programs and concerts.
How else can listeners support the USAIHC?
Please help us spread the word about the 3x the Gold concert, and also check out our website at www.usaihc.org/donate for additional ways to donate directly.
To learn more about 3x the Gold, visit the USAIHC website.