The Art of Harp

International Harp Festival Vol 1

Introduction by Rüdiger Oppermann

BHO and Chieftains "ln these changing times it's important that we musicians get together. We have a common language! With this privilege we have the chance to experience cultural understanding. To practice equality in communication we must first discover the basis for each new culture that we face. For a musician this means being open to difterent tunings and rhythms, understanding other structures and melodies, and developing another feeling for time. We must learn to ask the right questions and to listen with new ears."

The harp is considered to be the oldest instrument known to mankind. It exists in varied forms throughout the world. The first form of the harp, the Bow Harp (developed from the hunting bow), is the most ancient ancestor of all stringed instruments. Harps have been present in hundreds of forms for thousands of years) Diverse cultures and centuries have brought about a multitude of possible constructions, styles and timbres.

This new CD series "The Art of Harp" Is the most comprehensive collection of harp styles ever. We're crossing over all the traditional boundaries by presenting everything from ethnic-music (in new, digital geld recordings of previously unknown harp cultures) to classical harp solos, folk, pop. jazz-harp and other styles. Some of these musicians have appeared in the annual "International Harp festivals" that I've organized in Germany for the past 17 years. These harp festivals began in a few small clubs and developed into international events with thousands of listeners and sister-festivals in Italy and the USA. We hope that this album brings across some of the delight that we experience with the harp.



Gráinne Hambly - 2 tracks

TPhoto of Harper (or harpist?)he harp is the national symbol of Ireland. Gráinne Hambly is a young Irish harper from Mayo. She performs traditional Irish dance pieces on a Neo-Irish Harp (with nylon strings).

"With her playing we experience the century-long fascination of Irish music; a foot-tapping rhythm, the earthy groove in the left hand as fundament for a shimmering, scintillating circular melody, full of astute ornamentation, trills and stops in the right ... a union of density and airiness, earth and sun, green and gold; the musical likeness of the island."

Check out Gráinne's Website.

Malamini Jobarteh - 2 tracks

Photo of Harper (or harpist?)Malamini Jobarteh is the Grand Old Man of the Kora in Gambia son of the legendary Albali Bai Konte. He in a world traveler - the musical ambassador of his country. He plays the Kora and sings for weddings, rites of passage and other ceremonies. Malamini improvises here engagingly on the theme of "Kelefa", a heroic Mandikan warrior.

A Kora player can reach impressive speeds by a cogwheel technique of alternating hands. The difficulty remains in keeping the bass line and harmony accompaniments going while improvising a melody on top of it all. The musician must be both "here" and "there" at the same time - a consciousness in which the human being exists not only on a material level but also in a spiritual realm full of gods, ghosts and ancient ancestors.

Deborah Henson-Conant - 2 tracks

Photo of Harper (or harpist?)Deborah Henson-Conant is today's foremost jazz harpist. After classical training she began arranging pop and jazz standards for the harp in the 1980s. Deborah now composes her own songs and accompanies herself on an electrically amplified "Concert Harp". By making unique use of the double-action pedal system she produces "blue notes" with virtuosic foot-work. "Coqueta" developed in collaboration with the guitarist and the percussionist of her band.

The Naguru Adungu Troupe - 2 tracks

Photo of Harper (or harpist?)The Adungo (from the family of Bow Harps) is the most popular instrument of the Alur, a tribe residing in the border territory between Uganda, Zaire and Sudan. They migrated to this area about 400 years ago thus bringing the ancient music with them. A grooving Adungu band transports the dancers and listeners into an ecstatic frenzy in no time at all.

The musicians on this recording live in Naguro, a part of the capital city Kampala.

Kristen Nogues - 2 tracks

Photo of Harper (or harpist?)Influences of traditional Breton tunes, French Impressionism and the "avant garde" can be heard in Kristen Nogues' unique compositions for her instrument, the small, nylon strong Celtic Harp. The lyrics of this strangely macabra lullaby come from the 19th century. A household servant who must stay at home to care for a child while the parents go out dancing.

Cynthia Mowery - 2 tracks

Photo of Harper (or harpist?)Cynthia Mowery is principal harpist of the Baden-Baden Philharmonic in Germany. Bom in New York she studied with Alice Chalifoux at the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music. After working for the National Symphony Orchestras of Costa Rica and Venezuela Cynthia made Europe her home.

Her comments on this Prelude: J. S. Bach (1685-1750) originally composed this memorable Prélude as the introduction to the "Partita in E major" (BWV 1006) for solo violin. Many years later he arranged the same work as a "Suite in E Major" (BWV 10060), intended for a harmony instrument.

Almut Kirchner - 1 track

Photo of Harper (or harpist?)Almut Kirchner practices an art which, although once widely spread in all of Europe, can rarely be heard today. She sings the art songs from the Medieval to the Baroque Period accompanying herself on a harp with two rows of strings.

The harpist who conquers the dizzying technique of reaching through one row of strings on the Arpa Doppia to get to the chromatically tuned half-steps must be dedicated indeed! No wonder the Single- Action Pedal Harp was greeted as a welcome replacement for earlier attempts at chromaticism. In Wales a harp with no less than three rows of strings was developed Out of the idea of the Italian Arpa Doppia still being used for Welsh folk music today.

Almut Kirchner studied voice with Ingeborg Most and Elisabeth Jungblut and Baroque Harp with Andrew Lawrence-King, England. Professionally she works in the field of environmental protection and has a degree in molecular physics, which must be of help in finding the proper strings on the Arpa Doppia!

Margot Krimmel - 2 tracks

Photo of Harper (or harpist?)Margot Krimmel does with the harp what Joni Mitchell did with her guitar: She composes new, catchy songs in a folksy-jazz style, sings and accompanies herself. She plays on a Tyrolean folk Harp with a single-action pedal system. The rhythmical metallic sounds at the beginning and end of the piece were produced by plucking on the wire connecting cables within the body of the harp!