Leading up to the 13th World Harp Congress this July in Hong Kong, we’re talking with performers for the ever-popular WHC Focus on Youth showcase concerts. Check in each week as we present insights from these talented young artists.
Give us some background: when did you start playing and who do you study with?
Twelve years ago, at the age of 8, I discovered this wonderful instrument and instantly fell in love with it. Currently I am studying with Lieve Robbroeckx in LUCA School of Arts in Leuven, Belgium. Last year I [was] studying as an Erasmus Exchange Student at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, with Imogen Barford. This is where I will start my Master Degree in September.
Tell us about your WHC program. How did you choose your repertoire and what do you like about the music?
Fantasia Op. 35—Spohr: Spohr composed this piece in the beginning of the Nineteenth Century. I think this piece is absolutely amazing. He wrote a lot of ornaments of high emotional content; they make the piece really sensitive. I like the way he repeats the material he wrote, every time it has a different intensity.
Illustrations of Italian Poetry—Parish Alvars: The English harpist and composer Parish Alvars wrote this beautiful emotional piece in the Nineteenth Century. The piece is full of emotions, and that is exactly what I love about it. It’s as if you can feel the poetry in the notes. It is based on this motto from Petrarca: Ov’è colei che mia vita ebbe in mano? Quanto al misero mondo, e quanto manca a gli occhi miei che mai non fìen asciutti!
Thème et Variations—Sancan: I love variations; especially the ones Sancan composed in the second half of the Twentieth Century. The nice thing about variations is that they feel familiar to the audience. The variations are based on the theme, so there is always something to recognize in the music. The challenge for the composer is to keep the variations interesting, we don’t want to hear only things that we have already heard before. Sancan is a master in achieving this; he uses many different techniques, dynamics and characters in his piece. The thing I love about this virtuosic piece is that there is so much going on all the time, it is like an emotional rollercoaster.
Have you ever attended a World Harp Congress?
This is the first time I will attend a World Harp Congress. I am really excited!
What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you get to Hong Kong?
I will enjoy a boat trip to the island where I am staying.
Which harpist do you most admire, and why?
There are so many harpists to admire. I am really excited to go to all the concerts at the WHC, in particular the one with Isabelle Moretti and Xavier de Maistre performing with the Hong Kong Philharmonic.
Which harpist are you most looking forward to meeting in person at the WHC?
I am looking forward to meet all the harpists. It is an amazing opportunity to meet so many harpists from all over the world.
What’s your most memorable performing experience?
My most memorable experience was the first time I played as a soloist with an orchestra. So many people are sitting around you and supporting you through the music: you are all playing together this beautiful harp concerto. There is this wall of sound behind you, which perfectly blends with the sound you are making. It is wonderful.
What advice would you give a young student wanting to start harp?
The decision to start playing the harp will be the best decision you will ever make; it will change your life. There are so many different ways of playing this instrument: it can be your hope, your biggest help, your listening ear and your most exciting challenge. Enjoy every note you play and make sure you make music.
What’s the best piece of advice someone has ever given you?
Don’t just play the notes, make music.
When you’re not playing the harp what do you like to do?
My favorite thing to do outside playing the harp is definitely traveling. There are so many wonderful places in this world, waiting to be discovered. I love to do volunteering work with children; the most amazing thing is when traveling and volunteering can be combined at the same time: volunteering abroad. In the future, I want to combine these things with playing the harp. It would be extraordinary to go to different places to introduce the harp, give concerts, do workshops with local people and spread happiness all together. I also like to do sports: I go to the gym and the swimming pool a lot.
What’s on your playlist?
All different types of music: pop music, classical music, ‘90s, …
Finish this sentence: In 10 years I see myself …
…as a happy, creative harpist with a lot of original projects on the run. I would like to involve all kinds of people in the audience, and combine all different kinds or art with playing the harp. I think all the arts should be exposed together. Visual art, story telling, dancing, etc combined with harp music could make real magic.