Deborah Henson-Conant

Telling stories with music at HipHarp.com

Every time I get on a plane with my harp, suitcase and carryon, it’s a technological triumph for me.  When I started touring over 20 years ago, I struggled to find ways to get an electric concert harp where I needed it to go.  I tried borrowing concert harps and retrofitting them with pickups, I tried renting local electro-acoustic harps, I tried having new, innovative cases built so I could get my own harp around.

Each solution had its problems.  I’d spend hours trying to fix buzzes in borrowed or rented harps, stress over how to get a coffin-sized harp case from the airport to the theater, sit at airports waiting for a plane big enough for the harp case, or scramble to dismantle parts of the harp case at the airport so it could get through the hold.

Big Impossible Fantasy

My big, impossible fantasy was to walk to the check-in counter at an airport, hand over two bags: my harp, and my suitcase, then pick them up in baggage claim and  play every show with my own instrument and gear.

Living the Dream

After two decades collaborating with CAMAC harps on the “DHC” electric harp – an 11-pound electro-harp with racing-bike inspired carbon-fibre frame – now I get to live that check-in counter dream in reality every single time I travel.

That meant years of solving design and manufacturing problems on the part of CAMAC harps – and years of reinventing my own playing style, learning to navigate a completely new instrument-interface and developing the harness and gear. In the end, the new instrument reinvented my style and opened up completely new ways of playing.

Now the “DHC” harp exists – all over the world.  You can actually just go buy one (once you get on the 6-month waiting list). Yup!  It’s named after me, and it was waaaaay worth the wait.

Now the challenge is just how much I can get into the harp case, how I can cleverly pad the harp with my clothes, harp strings and gear — and how to quickly explain to TSA what the heck is in the bag.
And the really fun part?  Strapping it on and walking onto stage.  Truly living that dream.

I’m performing the Closing Concert at 13th World Harp Congress in Hong Kong on July 12, 2017! See more details here >  http://www.whc2017.org/