Concert Snaps, Memorable Meet and Greets, Candid Behind-the-Scene Moments, and Beyond!

Last week I got back from Salzburg, Austria where I go to experience two of my dreams colliding:  to have created a show-stopper concerto for harpists that so excites an audience that they jump to their feet — and to experience a master harpist playing it while I simply get to watch, listen and be moved by it.

It was as if I were a child, having created the perfect adventure story – getting to hear it told to me by a master storyteller.

This all happened on a stage in Salzburg, Austria watching my talented colleague Evelyn Huber, the passionate musicians of Philharmonie Salzburg with their great conductor Elisabeth Fuchs.

Concert Snaps …

There’s nothing better than being on stage.

The Mastermind … Elisabeth Fuchs

The Mastermind behind all of this was the powerhouse conductor Elisabeth Fuchs – a visionary with such passion and FUN that she is a constant geyser of creativity.  Building this concert together with her and Evelyn Huber was so much FUN. There, I said that word again. But what could be more fun than creating powerful, beautiful music with musicians who have both the rigor, passion and training to bring it alive  – and the joy to DANCE with it. Elisabeth Fuchs is all that and it cascades throughout the orchestra and the audience like a wild spring of creative energy. 

This was our first working lunch together which, of course, included the symphony dog, Emi as well. And in concert, below. 

Memorable Meet and Greets …

Meeting these wonderful harpists from orchestras throughout Austria and Germany was one of the highlights of my trip! It was such an honor and a joy to get to connect with these wonderful artists who have all shared their lives, like I have, with this magnificent, unwieldy, soulful instrument and to get to just sit and laugh about how our lives have already connected and could continue to connect.

From left to right: Ute Blaumer (Theater Hagen), Evelyn Huber (Munich) , Martina Holler (Gärtnerplatztheater Munich), Deborah Henson-Conant, Silvia Savary (freelance harpist), Uta Jungwirth (Rundfunkorchester Munich)

I got the chance to meet Evelin Greblo – our first Composer’s Spotlight featured artist – at the concert in Salzburg. Evelyn traveled with her whole family from Slovenia for the show – and then SHE went home and performed Baroque Flamenco for a charity television event.  After enjoying all Evelin’s wonderful videos of Baroque Flamenco, was so fun to finally give her and her brother (who also plays the harp) a big hug.

What ACTUALLY happened backstage before we walked out on stage

Ever wonder what symphony conductors and soloists are DOING backstage just before they enter the hall? Well, with the Salzburg Philharmonic a few weeks ago I suddenly realized – 30 seconds before the show – that I was wearing the wrong boots. No big deal, right? But electric harpists (like very pregnant women) can’t reach their feet. This is when conductor Elisabeth Fuchs rushed to the rescue. Watch through to the end when the stage door actually opens.

Candid Moments Behind-the-Scenes …

We had incredible fun on and off the stage. Check out what happened off the stage.

Look what I found on my bike ride in SALZBURG!

Evelin Greblo – our first Composer’s Spotlight featured artist.

Soundcheck for “2 Hip Harps” Concert with Salzburg Philharmonic, when we finally got into the hall and set up for the dress rehearsal and concert – Evelyn and I are testing out our monitors in this segment.

More rehearsal – so much joy, fun and energy! The best part is, we were IMPROVISING!

In rehearsal with Evelyn Huber, inventing a new intro for “New Blues.”

At a working lunch, high above Salzburg with Evelyn Huber and conductor Elisabeth Fuchs.

Not so “chance” encounters …

Like these special lessons! I was so glad to meet these amazing young harpists and spend some time working together on their versions of “Baroque Flamenco.” See in the photos below Vitus Lexhaller, a 16 year old passionate harpist from southern Bavaria, and Katharina Kubatta, a 17 year old harpist from Salzburg who won the opportunity to play “Baroque Flamenco” with the Salzburg Philharmonic last year

“I played your Baroque Flamenco with the Philharmonie Salzburg and of course the solo-version too, it is one of my favourite pieces! It is so much fun!” – Katharina Kubatta

Not just getting coached … a big part of the show!

Katha and Vitus weren’t in Salzburg just to get coaching on “Baroque Flamenco’ – they were ON STAGE with Evelyn and me (see if you can find them in the performance photos above!) AND they were our HARP HELPERS who tuned and dragged and positioned our harps and ran out to get us batteries and snacks and last-minute forgotten makeup.   

The beauty of this collaboration, was that we got to work together, play together AND have a private masterclass — supported by a scholarship from the Salzburg Philharmonic. That made it possible for Vitus and Katha to work directly with the composer of a piece they’ll play and teach themselves for the rest of their lives. If this kind of creative collaboration inspires you, check out the Salzburg Philharmonic’s current fundraising projects and and share your support. This is an amazing organization!  And if you want to support more scholarships for students to study with me – let’s talk.   

 

The concerto … in story form

On Monday, after the show, I got to finally meet Verena Jochum in person. We’ve been working together for nearly two years on a marvelous project to create a solo theater work from the concerto Soñando en Español and for the first time I got to see Verena’s perform a first draft of the work — acted “from the harp”.  It was thrilling to think of the new audiences this version of the work will open it up to. I love this picture of two artists in discussion together about creating two different concert works from this concerto that once lived only in my imagination.

Telling the same story … in different ways

I loved spending the morning with Evelyn and Verena, working together to help Verena craft this new adaptation of “Soñando en Español”  that she’ll be performing later this year. 

The true beauty of the sound

When you’re playing with a full symphony orchestra you need support in so many ways – and one of them is amplification!  It’s not just about being louder – it’s about being more present, for every audience member – and that takes big ears in addition to technical know-how. So we were grateful to get to work with Ekki von Nordenskjöld and Wolfgang Neumann to enhance the sound.  Ekki is Evelyn’s go-to technician for sound – and Wolfgang is a studio owner, musician, composer and recently also a filmmaker, who also captured some of the great shots of the show for us.  And then there was that great Nepalese restaurant we all fell in love with. 

Honorable mention: A Harpists Tradition — Napping in the Harp Cover

If you’ve ever been on tour with a pedal harp, then you’ve taken a nap in a harp case. It’s inevitable because it’s sooooo inviting.  Since we had THREE pedal harps on stage, BOTH Evelyn and I had the chance to hunker down in separate harp covers and get a little shut-eye before the concert.

In the news …

Regional TV Salzburg caught a clip of our performance! Listen to the full clip by clicking on the image below … but please do not judge my terrible German accent . 

… and Beyond!

Only a few hours after the concert ended in a concert hall near the house where Mozart was born, outside on the internet my 2023 Online Harp Improv Challenge began – and I got to SHARE the joy of learning how to improvise with nearly 1000 harpists all over the world.

I came home to hundreds of posts from excited harpists, improvising for the first time and excited about their newfound freedom. 

THAT, my friends …. is living the dream – for a kid who wanted to be a composer and then fell in love with improvisation and harp. To get to share the joy and freedom of that with so many people who bring ME such joy and freedom – that is living the dream, not just by myself, but in the best of all possible worlds – the world of Collaboration.

And what a joy to get to share all this with you.

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