what are the benefits of having a harp in an orchestra?

Posted In: Young Harpists

  • Participant
    unknown-user on #168273

    Hi.

    Participant
    paul-knoke on #168274

    I’m not sure that this is going to constitute a “quick response”, but
    here goes:

    The harp is not an “extra” instrument in an orchestra. It is an
    important and integral element, necessary for the performance of the
    standard symphonic repertory. Some might say, “But the harp doesn’t
    play in all the pieces!” The response to that is, “Neither do the
    trombones, but no one would consider forming an orchestra without
    them.” When the harp is used in the orchestra, it is often as a solo
    instrument (Waltz of the Flowers, Ma Vlast, Rhapsodie Espagnol), the
    only accompaniment to a solo instrument (Force of Destiny Overture, La
    Vie Parisienne, Pelleas et Melisande), or accompanying the orchestra
    as a whole (Mahler 5, Caucasian Sketches, Prelude to Khovahntschina).
    It is also one of the few orchestral instruments capable of playing
    chords, and hence is frequently vital to the cohesion of the rest of
    the ensemble.

    Why is it important for a school to own a harp? School harps have
    enabled countless children to begin lessons when no other harp was
    available to them. Many have gone on to become outstanding
    professionals. For students that have their own harps, moving the
    instrument frequently to and from school for rehearsals and home
    practice is impractical and highly risky. Most orchestral harpists
    keep a harp at the rehearsal hall for this reason. It is also
    important to ensure that the harpist participate in every rehearsal
    where there is a harp part. This is the only way a harp student will
    receive training and experience comparable to that of other
    instrumentalists. It is also helpful to the other members of the
    orchestra, so they may become accustomed to hearing the music as it
    will be performed and learn their cues appropriately.

    The composers wrote their music with harp in it because they intended
    it to be played that way!

    (Hope this helps you in your noble efforts to get a harp for your
    school. Keep us posted.)

    Participant
    unknown-user on #168275

    Hi Kat!

    The most important reason why you should have a harp in an orchestra is that it makes the music complete! It’s a part of the bigger whole and therefore it has to be on stage with the orchestra!
    The other very improtant thing to realize is already pointed out by Paul: it’s quite an efford to take your harp with you every time you have to go to a rehearsal! It’s not only a risk for your harp but also for the person who has to carry it around! If I played with only one orchestra (I just play gigs at the moment, so me and my dad have to carry my harp around all the time, not a very pleasant occupation) I would ask them too to at least rent a harp!

    Best wishes from the Netherlands!

    Elise, who has still ‘pain’ in her back from dragging her lovely instrument around ;-)

    Participant
    unknown-user on #168276

    Thanks everyone!

    Participant
    Tacye on #168277

    There is also the benefit to the harpist of playing in the orchestra
    from early on- it is very easy as a harpist to only play solo (or
    maybe small chamber groups) and then get thrown in the deep
    end of following the conductor, counting rests etc.

    Participant
    unknown-user on #168278

    I figured it was time to inform everyone about what has recently happened…I have finished the final draft of the letter(I’ve been in and out of town for the past two months, thus the late finishing), and I am trying to get in touch with my teacher and principal of my school to get their opinion of the letter.

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