WHC Sydney Draws to its Finale

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Hong Kong Harp Ensemble after their performance at World Harp Congress, Sydney.

Hong Kong Harp Ensemble after their performance at World Harp Congress, Sydney.

After six exciting days, the 12th World Harp Congress officially ended in the morning on the 26th.

The last evening concert was on Friday, July 25th at the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall, an unbelievably gorgeous hall, with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra featuring Louise Johnson and Sivan Magen. The concert was named Harp Legends, and it was a once in a life time opportunity to watch so many harpists playing on the same concert at the Opera House. Here’s a part of the program’s introduction – “This concert begins with two horn notes, the simplest of announcements, ushering in the harps. And the harp is the star of the program. You’ll see six harpists in the orchestra and two harp soloists. You’ll hear not one but two concertante works for the harp: Rodrigo’s ‘Serenade concerto’ and a brand new piece by Lee Bracegirdle, Legends of the Old Castle. And on Friday night, there’s every chance you’ll be sitting near a harpist as we warmly welcome more than 200 delegates from the World Harp Congress. (The Sherlocks among us can look for the tell-tale callused finger tips.)”

Sydney Opera House (taken on my way to the concert).

Sydney Opera House (taken on my way to the concert).

The program started with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra performing Orpheus – Symphonic Poem by Franz Liszt (conducted by maestro Simone Young, whose daughter also plays the harp), and six harps were used! Sivan Magen beautifully performed Joaquín Rodrigo’s Concierto serenata with the orchestra next. Following the intermission (which is called interval there), Louise Johnson, the principal harp of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, performed Lee Bracegirdle’s Legends of the Old Castle. Mr. Bracegirdle is a horn player and was actually a member of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra; he started his career as a composer in 1998. The concert ended with a breathtaking piece by Alexander Zemlinsky – The Mermaid.

The final event of this year’s WHC was an ensemble concert which took place the next morning. The performers include harp ensemble directed by Anne Lebaron (USA), Rave Ensemble directed by Katryna Tan (Singapore), Malaysia Youth Ensemble directed by Jee Fei Khor, and the Hong Kong Harp Ensemble (which I was a part of). Everyone gave a great performance, and it was a wonderful way to handover WHC to the Hong Kong committee.

The past week has been an amazing experience and tons of fun. The next World Harp Congress is going to be in 2017 and held in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a fascinating city. Please come and participate!

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