The Simple Life

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Alison Reese is editor of Harp Column. She is a freelance performer and teacher in West Michigan. Email her at areese@harpcolumn.com.

Honesty is the best policy when it comes to finding your groove

Chances are you’ve never heard of Nikolaz Cadoret, the harpist on the cover of this issue of Harp Column. To be honest, I hadn’t heard of him until recently. Other than the 2004 USA International Harp Competition in Bloomington where he won seventh prize, he has never even been to the United States, so he’s not exactly a household name on this side of the pond. When I saw that this classically trained pedal harpist was performing on Celtic harp at the Camac Festival in Washington, D. C. later this fall, I was intrigued. I decided to find out more about him, and I’m so glad I did.

Cadoret’s story is fascinating. I won’t give any spoilers in case you haven’t already read our interview with him (see “Classic Celtic” on page 18), but let’s just say his career path has not taken the typical trajectory of a professional harpist. What strikes me the most from the interview, though, is how comfortable Cadoret is with who he is as a musician, despite the ups and downs, right turns, and U-turns he has had as a harpist. “You know, when you are in the right place and you do the right things, everything becomes simpler,” he says. “Suddenly everything is right. I’ve reached that point in my life, and in my music—everything is simpler.”

For Cadoret the “right place” is his native region of Brittany in France, and the “right things” are teaching  and playing his unique style of traditional Celtic, classical, and free improvisation at the conservatory in Brest, not far from where he grew up.

En route to where he is now, Cadoret took some paths typical of a talented pedal harpist. But not all of these paths worked out for him. When he found himself in a place that wasn’t “his thing,” he didn’t dwell on it. He didn’t force it. He didn’t succumb to career norms. He simply kept moving. He kept exploring. He kept looking for the musical opportunity that would be “his thing.” Ultimately that search led him to where he is today. “I’m made for playing my music,” he says. “That’s my thing—playing my music on stage, or traditional music with small formations.”

Cadoret’s music is strongly rooted in the Celtic tradition in which he grew up—a style he had moved away from for many years, and only recently returned. “Without traditional music, I always feel something is lacking, which is why I came back to it,” he says. Cadoret says he thinks traditional music is the best medium for him to express his creativity. It’s in that fullest expression of his creativity that Cadoret finds such simplicity and effortlessness. We should all be so lucky to find that in our musical lives—a feeling of ease in what we do and who we are as musicians.

In our personal quests to find “my thing” and “my place,” we would all be well-served to take a page from Cadoret’s book: be authentic to who we are individually, rather than being loyal to who we think we need to be. Being honest with yourself might mean taking the road less traveled. It might mean taking a path a few steps deeper than you’d like to go. It might mean venturing into some peripheral territory where “real musicians” don’t tread. It might mean returning to your roots, as it did for Cadoret. Wherever your search takes you, finding simplicity and ease in what you do and who you are is worth the journey.

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Editor of Harp Column, freelance harpist, private teacher, hot yoga lover, and grammar geek.

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