Catching up with Gary Schocker

We’re a bit obsessed with composer/flutist/harpist Gary Schocker’s new compositions for solo harp! Case in point: Sunfish, which is kind of like a modern Pozzoli etude on steroids (listen to Gary play it below.) Gary has just released a slew of new solos and—we may be a bit biased here—but they are all pretty awesome! Gary’s style ranges from laid back (Birds, Late) to jazzy (Someplace Warm) to quirky (Snap Dragon). He currently has 15 (yes—15!!!!) harp solos listed here on Harp Column Music, and if you’re looking for accessible-but-substantial solo material, you will definitely want to check them all out on his artist page. Plus, we think his cat Arpaf is adorable.

Check out Gary's new solos:

We caught up with Gary to find out more about his latest creative streak…

What motivates you to write for the harp?

I fell in love with the harp which took me by surprise. Having grown up with a L&H in the house and playing along with my father on the flute, it never occurred to me that I would want to play it myself.

What do you most like about writing for the harp?

As a composer I write what I love: melody, creating something emotionally engaging and memorable. Writing for harp is different for me from how things usually happen when I compose. Sometimes I will walk by the strings and just can’t resist hearing a few notes, and the pattern intrigues me enough to start something from it.

What do you least like?

I can’t shift as quickly between modes or keys on harp, but the limitations are really freeing for me. Less choices make for easier decisions.

Which of your pieces on Harp Column Music are you most proud of?

I can’t say that one piece makes me more proud any more than I can say I love one of the cats more than another…

What’s the nicest thing someone has ever said about your harp pieces?

Well, more than words, it has been so great to have the finest players loving and recording my work. Emily Mitchell has done so much to help promote my work, and Yolanda Kondanassis recording my Hypnotized with Jason Vieaux, which got many people to hear what I create.

Who do you like to hear play your music?

The two great players above, and Etsuko Shoji have all played my music so beautifully.

What composer inspires you most?

I think Tournier is wonderful, and of course Ravel. My “Cherry Blossoms” is written for the same grouping of soloist with string quartet flute and clarinet. And generally I am a big Faure fan. So, the French!

If you weren’t a composer, what would you be doing?

Probably I would be playing my flute, or if non-musical, I might be a writer or garden design guy.

What else do you want people to know about you?

I am a flute player, and spend every day trying to make something beautiful.

Listen to Gary

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