Wednesday, July 27, 2011

World Harp Congress - Day 2


Whew! Crazy day. I hit the ground running at 8am and didn't stop until 9:30pm.

The first (late) stop was a panel discussion "The Acoustics of Harps" presented by three enginerd professors from Canada and France (and France), Chris Waltham, Benjamin Elie and Jean-Loïe Le Carrou respectively. Even though the French guys were not speaking their native language, they were speaking my language. I found their experiments and charts mapping the sound envelope of the harp interesting. Unfortunately, they ran over their time and didn't want to miss my next session so I left before I could find out any conclusions. However, I did get a couple websites: and that I will check out later.

Next, I was headed off to someplace called "St. Paul's Anglican Church LABYRINTH", which did not bode well, for a session titled "Yoga and Pilates for Harpists". I found the actual labyrinth ok and... (I just realized right now that it was referencing the Chartre Labyrinth that was painted on the floor of the room we were in. Dur.)... Anyway, the walk to the church was .5 miles, but I made it more. Did I mention I'm a panicky traveler? Vancouver is so completely easy to navigate I have no idea what was going on with me. I arrived late (you will be hearing that more - it was my theme for the congress) and missed some info, but I think I got the gist.

It was taught by Danielle Perrett (England). She is a harpist and saw a need for this kind of instruction and filled the need. She teaches mostly Yoga with a little bit of Pilates and McKenzie Method (My PT folks use this method!) There were some things she said that really stuck in my mind:

  • Our bodies mold themselves to playing the harp, therefore we need to do a lot of opposite motions.
  • Instead of shoulder rolls, perform shoulder "D"s (no forward motion).
  • Core strength is what holds us up when playing -strengthen it!.

The demonstration harp was loaned and made by David harps. I don't know if you can see in the picture, but it is a grey and white marble finish with maroon accents. Yes, really.

I got turned around finding my way back to the hotel, so I didn't have a chance to get lunch before my main reason for attending: The Hongyun Konghou Ensemble. I have a 30 second video of them playing posted over at facebook. In this short span of time you can see and hear the girl in the middle bending the strings and using her retractable pick. They have picks attached by string to tiny retractable rollers attached to rings they wear around their index fingers.

Warming up.

The rest of the afternoon was a free afternoon for tours and such, however the Capilano Suspension Bridge tour was cancelled due to lack of interest. By this time I was famished, so I decided I'd find a place to eat and then just go out to the Bridges myself using public transportation. I made my way back to a sushi place I found on my earlier wanderings back from pilates, surprisingly accurately, I might add, and had an extremely late lunch, something which I cannot function well doing at all.

By the time I was ready to catch the hotel shuttle to the Bridges, I would have had to get across town in a record two minutes to catch the last one of the day, so I mapped out a route taking all public transportation. The instructions had me get off the bus too early so I walked (some more) to the Waterbus station.

This is the bus I hoped to be on:

I went into the station to get a ticket for the next one and couldn't find my bus transfer, which meant I would have had to shell out another $3.75, which I refused to do on principle. The station also does not have a bathroom in it, and a guard pointed me in the wrong direction to public restrooms. I ended up using one in a coffee shop, but it was actually in a health club to which the barista escorted me through their storeroom and up a couple flights of stairs to a room with showers and ONE toilet.

I walked all the way back across town.

To give myself a break, I got takeout at a restaurant downstairs from my apartment. They got the order wrong.

The evening concert was Winter Harp and Patrick Ball. I wasn't too interested in Winter Harp, so I wasn't too concerned that I arrived late (Surprise! I got lost. But I found the Vogue Theatre with the help of an increasingly concerned police officer). My suspicions they weren't my cup of tea were confirmed, but they are some talented musicians.

The pedal harp is, I believe, a sister to mine. The decorations and carving looked almost identical.
They have a 5 foot tall Psaltery (they're normally 1.5 - 3 ft) you can see 2nd from the right.
At the far right is an Organistrum, which is a hand-cranked drone-type instrument. There is an engraving in Latin on the side that says, "Do not turn past 300rpm." Hee!

I had never seen Patrick Ball perform, so I was looking forward to it. Right before he came out, though, they announced no photos. Grrr. In this day and age, that seems a bit odd. And he looked really great, too - his costume made me feel nostalgic, even though it was period from the 1730s.

Patrick's performance was a scene acted entirely by him, punctuated with music. I had difficulty following the performance, which was the story of Turlough O'Carolan's last days as told by Charles MacCabe. The music was a different matter. Patrick's playing is effortless and flawless. Watching his hands move over the strings seemed more like he was gently scratching a cat's ears and the harp purred its content. Simply amazing.

I managed to make it back to the apartment in a relatively straight line and collapsed in bed, hoping to have a better navigational next day.

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