I think we should be warned, some nutjob oboist has posted online a combined harp part for the Nutcracker that looks unplayable, but will undoubtedly tempt conductors to not use a second harpist, thereby losing us work. Perhaps if enough of us protest, it will be removed from the imslp pages.
There’s an even more ominous trend about to start. I heard a report on NPR last week that both the Minneapolis Symphony and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra are in deep financial trouble and that the management wants to eliminate 6 permanent (salaried) positions from the orchestra in order to fix the financial situation. The report didn’t say which positions they wanted to eliminate. But I’ll bet that one of them is the harp position. I wonder how many orchestras in the next 5 to 10 years will make the harp job a fee-for-service position.
I have NEVER in over 40 years of doing the Nutcracker had a second harpist to play along with me. I agree with Elizabeth. Real estate in most pits is at an absolute premium. I would love not having to combine the parts, but it is/was not to be.
The New York City Ballet Orchestra (always) has two harps, and possibly American Ballet Theater. Perhaps they are alone in that. Miss Lawrence used to say one should refuse to combine, only play the first part. A second harpist isn’t paid more than another violinist, are they? But I don’t suppose that works in the real world. If any combined part were to be posted, it should be one by a harpist, like Joan Ceo, who has I think a complete orchestration done.
As for the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, they have never had a full-time harpist, shame on them. The second harpist with the Minnesota Orchestra has never been full time, that I know of. So I don’t think we stand to lose very much there.
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