Aventure dans un Ascenseur (A French Elevator Adventure)

For the second time in my life, I got stuck in an elevator.  This time, with harpist Shelley Fairplay, two helpful volunteers from the Festival “Harpes au Max” in Ancenis, France … and a bottle of wine.

There’s always that fateful little bump.  I quickly slid to the floor – as if that would help.  Shelley followed.  Here’s what we looked like:Shelley-DHC-elevator-scared-faces

The Harpes au Max Festival was well-run and well-equipped.  At that moment — mere seconds after two volunteers had helped us move our harps to our hotel rooms – they were working out how to rescue us from the elevator.  You can see them in the mirror above our heads, discussing our options, and calling for help.

Were we helpless girls?  No.  We were helplessly inarticulate non-french-speaking harp players without working cell phones.

When you don’t speak the language and you don’t have a working cell-phone sometimes you can’t do the simplest things.

10 minutes after the elevator bumped to a standstill between floors, and when scary had turned to tedious, when we’d sung a few rounds of Frere Jacques and the fire department had been alerted, I realized I was still holding the welcome gift-bag the festival had given me.

It contained maps, brochures … and a bottle of local wine. I’d been wondering earlier when I might find time to drink it … and this suddenly seemed like best time.

(Did I mention I’m slightly claustrophobic.  Only not just slightly.)

The helpful volunteers set to work with car keys to push the cork into the bottle.


In case you’ve never tried this — it’s not easy to elegantly drink wine from the bottle when there’s a cork in it.  The fact is, the cork kept plugging the neck of the bottle – making it impossible to get anything out of the bottle …


… until I discovered my finger-nail clippers.

If you hold fingernail clippers in the neck while drinking you can actually keep the cork down far enough to enjoy a sip or two (note below how the cork floats to the top … oh, right, because it’s a cork).


In fact, we didn’t have to wait 30 minutes. Help came much sooner than expected.  And in case you’re wondering – yes, I can now attest that French Firemen are just as handsome as their American counterparts.


We were rescued …


… and Shelley and I celebrated the rest of the wine with actual wine-glasses and friends Myriam Serfass and her lovely partner (actually, Shelley’s drinking sparkling water but the rest of us are enjoying the sweet local wine – the perfect bouquet for an elevator rescue, I might add).


Later that night …


… and a sign of the times …


Thanks to @ElizaMarshall and Shelley Fairplay @HarpWales for photos!

Posted in Photo Gallery, Tour Diaries, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

HipHarp Residency at Pacific Harps – May 21 & 22, 2016

Deborah Henson-Conant in Concert
Sat. May 21, 2016 •  7:30pm


Hands-on Workshop for Harpists
Sun. May 22, 12-4pm

Register for the WORKSHOP now!!!

Want to do both? Scroll to the bottom of page for info about the Harptabulous Package!

Grammy-Nominated harp virtuoso. Wicked sense of humor. Theatrical flair. Concert 5/21 -Pasadena, CA Click To Tweet


square-generic-DHC-concert-HoffmanThe show will be an intimate outdoor garden soiree where you get the chance to get up close & personal with DHC!

This is DHC’s 3rd Annual appeared at Pasadena’s Pacific Harp and the show always sells out, so be sure to buy your tickets right away!

You’ll see Deborah playing the fan favorites as well as new-not-yet-released music and the close up view will let you see exactly how she does it!


A Very Special “Loopers & More” workshop with DHC
Come as you are — Harps, loopers and Amps are all provided!

Do you want to know more about harps and amplification?  Have you wanted to try out the new loopers, but don’t know where to start — or where to go after you get the first steps?  This workshop is a chance to get your hands (and your feet!) on loopers and amps with hands-on help from DHC and the Pacific Harps staff – and then ask her ANYTHING else you want to know to take your harp playing to the next level.

THE 1st HALF of this fun hands-on (and feet-on!) workshop is all about Loopers and Amplification. Pacific Harps is providing the harps – PLUS a brand new series of Loopers and Amps straight from the Boss factory and Roland showroom.  We’ll work on loops you can improvise over, loops you can layer – and the trick of TIMING so you loop with rhythm. And you won’t have to wait in line for your chance at the equipment – there’s enough for everyone!

Even if you don’t want to play with a looper, you’ll be able to use these techniques for improvising solo AND for ensemble improvisation.

THE 2nd HALF is a special “No-Holds-Barred-Ask-Me-Anything” session where YOU ask the questions and DHC shows you the secrets behind anything she does  – from harp strums to the trick of singing-while-harping – or anything else you want to know.


She’s a Grammy-nominated electric harp virtuoso with a wicked sense of humor, a gutsy set of vocal chords and a theatrical flair.

Inventive. Spontaneous. She pulls sounds from the strings you’d never expect to hear from the instrument St. Peter hands out at the Pearly Gates: Blues. Jazz. Flamenco. Distortion.

And then there’s the looper pedal — a double-jacked foot-pedal that lets her record  music on the fly, building rhythmic layers that over and over until she’s created an almost symphonic bed of sound she improvises over.

Poetic dissonance, movement, story and song — all pulled from the 32 strings of an instrument she wear like a massive bronze bow-and-arrow, the electric harp that’s named after her, the “DHC-Light.”


“From the moment she set foot on stage, I was captivated by DHC.  She’ll tell a story,  ask the audience a question, and people will actually respond! Part of her appeal and magnetism on stage is her ability to be completely honest.”  Allison Volk (Los Angeles, CA)

Part of Deborah Henson-Conant's magnetism is her ability to be completely honest on stage Click To Tweet

THE INSTRUMENT …. is her own Invention!

Once upon a time DHC played a hulking 6-foot-tall concert harp, like you see at the back of the orchestra.  But she really wanted the freedom to move around the stage – and the freedom to be able to travel with her instrument.

She had a vision of an electric harp she could strap on like an electric guitar, and put in the luggage hold of a plane.  She created a prototype and took it to Europe’s most visionary harp builder, Joel Garnier.

For the next 20 years Joel’s company, CAMAC harps, worked with DHC to create the harp of her dreams.   The result is the world’s leading electric harp, named after Deborah, the “DHC-Light,” an 11-pound carbon-fibre instrument that can soar over an orchestra – and that she even took on tour with legendary Rock guitarist Steve Vai for a world tour in 2012.

Take a harp. Shrink it down. Strap it on. Plug it in. Deborah Henson-Conant 5/21/16 Pasadena, CA Click To Tweet



WHAT:  Garden Soiree Concert with Deborah Henson-Conant
  Sat. May 21, 2016 •  7:30 pm
WHERE:  Pacific Harps, 922 N Craig Ave., Pasadena, CA 91104
TIX:  https://goo.gl/xBVjYv


WHAT: A Very Special “Loopers & More” workshop with DHC
Sun. May 22, 2016 •  12pm-4pm
WHERE: Pacific  Harp, 922 N Craig Ave., Pasadena, CA 91104
Come as you are — Harps, loopers and Amps are all provided!

Harptabulous Package – Want to combine workshop & show?

 –  2 VIP Tix to DHC’s Intimate Salon Concert
Sat. 5/21 at 7:30pm (Value: $150)

–  1 registration for DHC’s LIVE Hands-on Workshop
Sun. 5/22 – 12pm (Value: $75)

–  10% off Pacific Harps strings, accessories, and DCH’s music & CDs.

Package total:  $225  $197 (Save $28!!) To get this deal click HERE and then click on ‘get tickets’. A pop up will appear and you will see all the ticket options, including the Harptabulous Package!


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A Visit to the Harp Factory (Photo Tour)

Bienvenue a France!  I’m in Ancenis for the Harpes au Max Festival this weekend.  Here’s how the first few days of my trip went!

When I arrived on Monday I set up my hotel-room as a practice room — something that’s possible because the electric harp has very little acoustic sound, so I can practice any time of day or night … and I do!


Yesterday, I got a tour of the CAMAC harp factory to see my signature harp built and had an interview with harp developer and builder Jakez Francois.  We saw a harp-form being manufactured and painted and I can’t WAIT to share the interview with you next month.

Here’s a shot from the factory – Jakez is holding the foam harp-form that will become a “DHC” electric harp – and on the wall are hundreds of drawers with harp hardware in them.


I don’t remember what we’re discussing in this photo, but I’m here with the developer, Jakez Francois and the engineer who translated the harp designs into reality … (blah! I lost the piece of paper where I wrote his name!)  Jakez is holding the high-grade foam form that is used to create the DHC and we’re standing next to the OLD machine that was used to create these forms.


In this picture we’re watching one of the highly focused factory workers preparing the housing for the electronic pickups that will be attached to the body of the harp.


In this photo you can see the harp shape after it’s been coated with carbon fibre at the bicycle factory (seriously).  After that it’s been sanded to prepare it for painting and the wooden attachment that holds the strings and the electronics has been attached.


The harps are painted in a completely dust-free environment to make sure the finish is perfectly smooth.


Here are two finished “DHC” harps – ready to be strung and sent to their new owners!


Here on the factory floor you can see a whole STABLE of harps – some strung, some unstrung.  Most of them are acoustic, but you can see the blue & black DHC harps right in the middle.


Jakez and I set up for the Interview I’ve been asking for for years – to tell the story of the “DHC” harp and how it went from conception to reality.


One of my favorite corners of the CAMAC factory is this one, where a famous old classic harp sits next to a portrait of ‘my’ harp, the “DHC.”


If you’ve ever wondered why so many women play the harp, I’m pretty sure it’s because so many of the harp builders are so handsome — but don’t take my word for it – here’s a photo from the factory — you can decide.


I also got to meet two of the wonderful women behind the front-desk at CAMAC – people I talk to on the phone and in emails but never get to meet!


While at the factory, with everything set up for the interview with Jakez, I also filmed two masterclasses for the new online Harp-school.com, which will be edited and added to the hundreds of harp masterclasses next month.

Here’s a selfie with Evelina and Martin, the geniuses behind Harp-school.com.


And in case you think I never get to actually hang out in the wonderful places I visit, yesterday I got to enjoy Ancenis with my actor friend, Robert Sicular who happens to also be performing in France right now.


We got to see Ancenis just as the blossoms are carpeting parts of the town.


And as I sat writing this blog, who should toast me from the next table but Venezuelan harp superstars Eduardo Betancourt and Leonard Jacome!

Yup!  All this and the Festival “Harpes au Max” hasn’t even started yet!!

Oh … and one last thing … as I was leaving the Factory, Jakez offered me this one-of-a-kind PINK harp case … which I politely declined in favor of a white one – but for anyone out there buying a DHC-32 harp who wants a truly unique and waaaaaay-easy-to-find-in-an-airport 19-pound fiberglass road case – this is the ONLY one there is in the world – so let the CAMAC factory know ASAP.  I was sorely tempted – if only so I could put a tag on it saying, “This may look like your luggage, but don’t be fooled – many bags look alike.  Make sure to check the luggage tag”


Posted in Harps, Instrument (My Instrument), People I Meet, Photo Gallery, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments