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The Third Thailand International Harp Festival and Youth Competition 2016

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The Third Thailand International Harp Festival and Youth Competition 2016
“What Harpists have in Common”
Harpists, so the joke goes, spend half their life tuning their instrument, and the other half playing it wrong.
“Yes indeed,” says master harpist of Myanmar, Aung Pyae Son, ” what we fear most is that our string breaks in the middle of a recital because it takes us about half an hour to re string and retune our harp”.

Whether or not the frustration is universally shared by all harpists will be known this coming month when world renown harpists as well as young harpist hopefuls gather in Bangkok for the Third Thailand International Harp Festival and Youth Competition 2016 to be held from August 11 at Chulalongkorn University in an event co hosted by the Tamnak Prathom Harp Centre.

The Festival will present a rich and varied concert programme containing some of the harp’s greatest repertoire in four concerts given by some of the world’s leading harpists on the “European” classical pedal harp and the Latin American harp.

There will also be 12 young harp hopefuls in the 17-year-old category from seven different countries contesting for Her Majesty’s the Queen’s trophy, since Her Majesty has a great interest in the harp and had graciously accepted to be Patron of the Festival which, this year, is held as part of the celebration of her Seventh Cycle Anniversary.This year’s competition is designed to provide a platform for young harpists who wish to start participating in international competitions. The set pieced, which includes Handel’s Harmonious Blacksmith rearanged by harpist and teacher, Carlos Salzedo, are challenging and competitors are expected to prepare new works intended to creat an interest and excitement in new music. One work is by the important 20th century French woman composer, Germaine Tailleferre, and the other is a new work commissioned for the competition “Sunflower” by Catrin Finch.

The jurors consist of six the best respected and sought-after teachers of the world, headed by Elinor Bennett of Wales, who is also Artistic Director, and includes Professor Helga Storck of Germany, Mieko Inoue of Japan, Jie Zhou of China, Assistant Professor Tongsuang Israngkul of Thailand and Judith Utley of the United States.

For the first time, top harpists of Myanmar and Khmer have been invited to join the Festival and will hold a workshop and recital enticingly entitled “What Harpists Have in Common” on August 6. The rare event will give opportunity for harpists from vary different cultures and backgrounds to shar experiences by comparing techniques, styles, pleasures —and frustrations — of playing the harp and learning more about music, methods and practical matters of the harps that are played by the Myanmar and Khmer musicians as well as sharing the “European” music with them.

The Khmer “pin” team, will be led by master harp maker,Sonan Kavei Keo from the Royal University of Music and Dance and his daughter harpist Sngoun Kavei Serey Roth and ethno music teacher, Va Bophary. The Khmer harp or pin as it is called is an exciting reinvention of the instrument which wa believed to have existed in century 13th or C14th. Its past existence was discovered within the past decade on a bas relief in a Khmer ruin. With the help of a French ethnomusicologist, Patrick Kersale,Khmer musicians worked to trace out the shape of the harp and inscriptions of how they were made and used and examinied similar instruments that survived elsewhere in the region.Craftsman Sonan Kavei Keo had the task of rebuilding the instrument while his daughter , Sngoung Kavei Serey Roth learned how to play it. The harp was launched at a public concert in the year 2013. Very similar to the Myanmar harp, the saung dok, the harp is an astonishing link to the region’s culture.

Launching off the Festival on August 5 at the Thai Cultural Centre will be world renown Isabelle Moretti of France in a rare combination with Latin jazz harpist, Edmar Castaneda of Colombia.Both will present a rpogramme combining the classic with the jazz and they will be playing pieces ranging from Schumann to Chick Corea. Claudia Lamanna of Italy and winner of the competition in 2012 will join forces with Anne Denholm, royal harpist to Britain’s Prince of Wales, will presenta programme entitled “The Classic and the Contemporary”.

Following tradition, Claudia is invited back to the Festival to give “the Winner’s Recital”,” following the festival’s aim at keeping friendship through music and to enable young harpists to get to know each other and follow each other’s progress in the harp world.Claudia, now 20, is studying with one of the most sought-after teacher, Isabelle Perrin, after completing her harp studies in Italy with the highest marks. Claudia, who has just become one of the finalists in the prestigious USA Harp Competition in Bloomington, will be presenting a full programme of classical harp repertoire in a concert “The Classic and the Contemporary” on August 8 with pieces ranging from Scarlatti to Paul Hindemith and Henriette Renie. Anne Denholm, selected royal harpist to HRH the Prince of Wales this year, will play contemporary works by living composers both Welsh and English. One piece, “Her Face was Full of Woe” was specially written for her by William Cole just earlier this year

The Concert “A conversation between two harpists” on August 10 bring together two well-established harpists and teachers, Elinor Bennett and Chantal Mathieu of Switzerland to see what are their favourite pieces or what all harpists need to learn to play.

To round of the festival will be the most adventurous and ambitious concert “The Best of the French” or”…..It all started with Debussy ” featuring some of Britain;s brightest young talents, headed by the harp world’s heart throb, Catrin Finch. With the vibrant young quartet, the Pavao Quartet, and guest instrumentalists, Julian Sperry, flute, and Nicholas Ellis, clarinet, the group will play Debussy’s Danse “Sacree & Profane” with Thai guest musician, Nakorn Kitiudom on the double bass.The piece is followed by all-time favourite , Camille Saint-Saens’ Fantasie for Violin and Harp, Gabrielle Faure”s Impromptu for solo harp; “Rhapsody” by Claude Debussy,specially rearranged for the group from the clarinet concerto; Andre Caplet’s chilling Conte Fantastique; Debussy’s Sonata for Flute, Viola and harp, Faure’s “Une Chatelaine en sa Tour” and rounding off with the giant of French harp work, Maurice Ravel’s “Introduction and Allegro” for harp, string quartet, flute and clarinet”