(We first shared this post on April 21, 2016)

Baroque Flamenco is one of my most famous and fiery pieces. But it wasn’t always.

The first time I heard the melody, it was in a Minuet by Jean-Jacques Rousseau  (pictured below, quite fetchingly, I think).

I found it in one of my first harp books (“Medieval to Modern, Vol. 1″ by Samuel Milligan) under the title “Minuet in A Minor.”

I fell in love with the melody and started improvising on it, first in a Baroque style, and then over time, I started adding rhythm to the variations.

Little by little the piece became a conversation of styles: the melody was Baroque, but the variations took on a Latin rhythmic character (a lot like the rhythm of Bernstein’s “America.”)

Then, one day, packing up my gear in a rock club in Berlin, and hearing Ottmar Liebert’s “Nuevo Flamenco” on the house sound system, I had a revelation: “Wait a minute!” I yelled at myself over the music, “The harp … the HARP … is just a big GUITAR!”

By which I meant: there’s a whole other instrument here, not just the strings, but the sound box as well.

I started experimenting, and created a cadenza for the piece that included my best imitation of a flamenco troupe, from strums and slaps to foot stomps – all created on the strings and soundboard of the harp.

Wait a minute! I yelled at myself over the music, The harp ... the HARP ... is just a big GUITAR! Click To Tweet
DHC Playing Baroque Flamenco with the Grand Rapids Symphony

Me playing “Baroque Flamenco” with the Grand Rapids Symphony

There's a whole other instrument here, not just the strings, but the sound box as well! Click To Tweet

Thus was born, “Baroque Flamenco,” which morphed from a sweet, haunting minuet into a fiery tour-de-force that was the dramatic finale of my PBS music special “Invention and Alchemy”, and later became the 3rd movement of my  concerto “Soñando en Español.”


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