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Attending Harp Somerset 08?

  • Alan
    Alan Zenreich

    Lauren and I are leaving NJ at 6:00am tomorrow for Alexandria VA to attend part of the Harp Somerset Folk Harp festival.  Aside from being our first real exposure to the harper community, we hope to find a harp that wants to follow Lauren home.  Lauren will attend some workshops, I'll sit in as a "companion", and frequent the exhibit hall.

    I hope we get to see some of you there, don't be shy, introduce yourself.   I assume there will be name badges, and that there are probably only one Alan Z. and Lauren Z. there.  We'll be heading home on Saturday late afternoon. 

    We're looking forward to this.

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    replies to "Attending Harp Somerset 08?"
    • Alan
      Alan Zenreich

      Lauren and I spent Friday and most of Saturday at the festival.

      This was our first face to face experience with the harp community, and it was a real pleasure.

      We enjoyed chatting with two folk from Harpcolumn... Jennifer and Jean.

      Lauren attended several beginner sessions ranging from introduction to the harp to goal setting to a yoga class.

      As a "companion" I attended sessions on gadgets for the harp, electrifying your harp, and one on the midi harp.  Oh, and I also got to attend a "your first harp lesson" session, so I was hands on for a while... great fun.

      The Friday evening concert was very nice.  I forget the details, but Pamela Bruner played a very difficult piece (LOTS of lever changes) and got a standing ovation.  Some other performers played Bray harps, and other cross stringed instruments, and there was a 23 TV show medley that kept everyone smiling as we connected the music to the show titles.

      After the concert, we played "jam voyeur", where we sat on the floor and watched/listened to the "beginners jam".  They sounded great as an ad-hoc, and were often accompanied by some other folk who played concertina, recorders, bagpipes, harmonica, flute, and violin/fiddle.   I can see myself attending next year, with my little mandolin trying to keep up with the harpers.

      Aside from the classes and concert, there was a prime directive for the trip... to see if there was a floor harp that wanted to follow us home.  I'm pleased to say, that we now have a newborn harp in our living room. 

      It's a Heartland Harps Dreamweaver.  We like the way it sounds, the pricepoint and the ergonomics of the curved soundbox (you don't lean it on your shoulder).   The Dreamweaver is their only non-custom made harp, and they brought a few to the festival, so we had our pick of finishes.  Lauren chose one with a mahogany color, and Dave installed a full set of Truitt levers for us.

      Of course, I'm a gadget guy, so we got the deluxe case and wheels.  The wheels attach to a pocket in the case, or directly to the harp, which makes it very easy to move.  She also got an ultra-stool (height adjustable bench).  To rounding out the toys (and our credit card bill) we added a tuner with remote pickup, some music books, Pamela Bruner's DVD "Learn to Play the Harp Beautifully", and other assorted goodies.

      We left about 5:00pm and got home about 5 hours later. 

      Lauren has named the harp (actually she said that the harp named herself) "Celeste".  I didn't hear any whimpering coming from our living room late last night, so I suspect the newborn has adapted to her new home.

      All in all, a delightful, productive and successful trip, and a lovely introduction to the folk harp community.  Everyone was very supportive, and folk seemed genuinely pleased that Lauren is joining the community.  Very cool!

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    • Jerusha
      Jerusha Amado

      <<I'm pleased to say, that we now have a newborn harp in our living room. 

      It's a Heartland Harps Dreamweaver.  We like the way it sounds, the pricepoint and the ergonomics of the curved soundbox (you don't lean it on your shoulder).   The Dreamweaver is their only non-custom made harp, and they brought a few to the festival, so we had our pick of finishes.  Lauren chose one with a mahogany color, and Dave installed a full set of Truitt levers for us.>>

      Alan,

      This is wonderful news!  I hope that your daughter has many happy years in her journey towards becoming a harpist!

      Jerusha

       

       

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    • Alan
      Alan Zenreich

      I hope that your daughter has many happy years in her journey towards becoming a harpist!

      I hope not!  Lauren is my wife.  <s>

      We have two sons, then shut down production <vbg>

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    • Briggsie B.
      Briggsie B. Peawiggle, Esq.

      You had fun, didn't you? It sure sounds it. CONGRATULATIONS on the new harp, harp case, stool, tuner and other good stuff. What an exciting time for Lauren! I love those harp cases with the wheels that slip into the case. I wish all harp cases had that. It's really nice. How much does the Dreamweaver weigh? And totally cool on the lever installation right then and there. It always amazes me what luthiers can do so quickly and so well. I was hoping the Dreamweavers would be at the AHS conference so I could try one. They intrigue me with the curved soundbox. But, alas, they were not there.

      Briggsie

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    • Jerusha
      Jerusha Amado

      Sorry!  I was under the mistaken impression that she was your daughter!  The good wishes still apply!

      Jerusha

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    • Alan
      Alan Zenreich

      Briggsie,

      Yes, I had a great time.  I believe the stock Dreamweaver is 21 lbs.  I just weighed this one, with full levers and a small bag holding the tuning key, it's just under 24 lbs.   The deluxe padded case weighs 10 lbs, the wheels add another 5 lbs.

      While he was updating our harp, Dave had all the levers in position but not fastened yet.  He turned away for a moment, and when he turned back he saw someone sitting down, ready to try out that harp.  He managed to stop her in time.  It would have been embarrasing to have the levers falling to the ground as she played <s>

      After Dave finished the installation, Pamela played the harp to make sure it was ready to go.  We picked it up from the exhibit aread and took it immediately to our final workshop of the day... then it was straight into the car as we drove home.

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    • Briggsie B.
      Briggsie B. Peawiggle, Esq.

      Very cool on the weight. Once again, congrats on your new harp. I posted on here recently that I acquired a new Webster Cecelia at the AHS Conference. It's just nice having another harp in the house -- another good harp. :)

      Briggsie

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    • Unknown
      Unknown User

      Anyone else buy anything yummy? How about the Harp Tastings? Any surprises there? I sure do hope I can go next year!

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    • Alan
      Alan Zenreich

      Lauren and I sat in for the large harp tasting.  Granted, we have uneducated ears when it comes to harps. 

      Each harp was played twice.  First one short piece by one performer, then the harp was moved to the second performer who played a different piece. 

      All of the harps sounded very good (not a big surprise) in the very large room under these less than optimal conditions.  There is definately a difference in sound depending on the performer. 

      However two of the harps stood out for us, and they turned out to be the R-Harps Merlin, and the Timothy Harps Storm King.  I've included the links below.

      http://www.rharps.com/merlin.html

      http://www.timothyharps.ca/harpmodels_stormking.htm

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    • Briggsie B.
      Briggsie B. Peawiggle, Esq.

      Alan, I played the Storm King at Timothy's booth at the AHS Conference. It was beyond awesome. What a marvelous harp. Did you see Timothy's other harps there? His flutes?

      Briggsie

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    • Jerusha
      Jerusha Amado

      Alan,

      I've noodled on a Merlin here in town, and my quick impression was that it had an enchanting voice and a wonderful feel as far as tension is concerned, a little lighter/more comfortable than the Dusty or Thormahlen.  I also loved its light weight.  I have not had the chance to hear a Storm King but would love to hear/play one.

      Jerusha

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    • Unknown
      Unknown User

      Hi Alan and other friends,

      I haven't posted much here but I had a grand time at the festival too.  It was my first time also.  I didn't buy a harp there, but since I had just bought a Fisher from my teacher, it was cool to get to talk to her maker, Larry.  I never intended to name my harp, but it just happened kind of like it did with "Celeste".  My harp's name is Bridget after St. Bridget of Ireland. 

      Took some great classes, but "Singing with the Harp, Scottish Style"was the real stand-out for me.  I really liked Corrina Hewat; incredible musician yet she was so down-to-earth.  I learned some great new songs. 

      I hope I can go to the whole festival next year as I was only able to go for a day this time around. 

      Happy harping,

      Denise

       

       

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    • Barbara
      Barbara Brundage

      Pamela Bruner played a very difficult piece (LOTS of lever changes) and got a standing ovation


      Anyone remember what this was? I'm curious.

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    • Alan
      Alan Zenreich

      Briggsie,

      Timothy apparently now makes only two models, the Storm King 40 and the Llyr 36.  They both sound wonderful (only the storm king was played during the tasting).

      Lauren and I really enjoyed talking to Timothy... he's a harp player turned harp builder, and that's a great combination.  We would have loved to take one of his harps home with us, but it was beyond our budget at this point.  When we stopped by his booth on Saturday, he asked which harp we bought and he agreed that the Dreamweaver was a good choice.  These harp makers are more colleagues than competitors, and they apparently have respect for each other's work.

      The other great combo is Dave Woodworth and Pamela Bruner of Heartland Harps.  Dave builds, and Pamela plays, so their synergy shows in the end results.  They had a slightly used Sylvan 32 model there that was beautiful, but Dave suggested that as a beginning student we spend *less money* and get the Dreamweaver because of the extra two bass strings.  We appreciated this kind of advice.

      So perhaps one day our living room will be like yours... lots of harps, encouraging them to breed < s >

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    • Briggsie B.
      Briggsie B. Peawiggle, Esq.

      Yes, although if you read on Timothy's website, he did a run of 6 Aedh harps this year. Three were spoken for in advance, and three are waiting for owners unless this is an older blurb. I would like one of those for travel. They are so cute. I go away to Delaware for 9 or 10 days every summer to visit my brother and I have such withdrawal while I am gone because in the summer when I am home, I spend hours each day playing/practicing. It kills me to walk away from them for that time. It would be nice to have a "carry-on" harp to take along.  But, unfortunately after my recent lustful purchase of the Cecelia, my magical envelope (which continuously has $20 bills in it as long as I follow certain rituals....LOL) is currently empty. And since playing Timothy's harps, I am totally TOTALLY impressed with what he is doing. Like you, however, there is no way I could afford the Storm King, nor would it suit my current needs. It was a bit heavy for my current needs. I bought the Webster Cecelia because I wanted lots of strings (36) and full Camac levers and a light weight harp to take from school to school since I teach music in several schools. Bill Webster, who also makes a WONDERFUL instrument, but who is going to be at Southeastern and wasn't at Somerset. My Cecelia is a wonderful little instrument. My teacher just bought one of his McFall harps which she played at AHS. I like the integrity of his harps, and I also like the high tension of his harps. Timothy's are like that too. Really really nice harps. Did he have on his kilt at Somerset? He wore it every day at AHS. :) Timothy strikes me as a real creative artist-type. Did you see his flutes? They were quite intriguing to me.

      Briggsie

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    • Alan
      Alan Zenreich

      I didn't look closely at his flutes... we were single minded about harps <vbg>

      Yes, Timothy was wearing his black kilt.  There was at least one other guy walking around the festival in a kilt.  I've got to hand it to these guys, as it was COLD in some of the room <vbg>

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    • Alan
      Alan Zenreich

      I just made a couple of quick photos of Celeste.  Click here to take a peek.

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    • Jerusha
      Jerusha Amado

      Alan,

      Stunning harp!  What beautiful wood grain!

      Any impressions/opinions concerning the levers?

      Jerusha

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    • Alan
      Alan Zenreich

      Jerusha,

      Considering that the entire harp is made of laminates, it does have very nice grain.  Unlike Dave's other harps, this one is stained to a mahogany color.  His the others are the color of the wood you select.  They're all finished with a hand rubbed waterproof polyurethane finish.

      I like the Truitt levers, they seem very nice and well constructed.  However, I like the way the Camac levers are built too.  Would have been a tougher choice, if there was one to make. 

      For the moment, I've put some colored rings on the C and F levers.  I'll probably replace them with some wraps of colored automobile detailing tape.  Or perhaps I'll use another common way to indicate those levers by painting the end with red or blue nail polish.  I haven't decided which technique to use yet.

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    • Mimi
      Mimi McNeel

      Barbara,

      Pam played a Mozart Sonata, K. 545.  When she was chatting after the performance, she mentioned that she had only had to omit a couple of notes.  She played impressively and musically.  She flipped levers a lot -- once with her right hand.

      By the way, I was one of the harpists for the large harp tasting at Somerset this year.  It's very interesting to play 16 harps in quick succession, trying to make each of them sound their best.

      Mimi

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