First Rehearsal with Christina Pluhar and L’Arpeggiata at the festival Ruhrtrienalle in Duisburg, Germany — and I’m kicking myself with more feet than I have. It’s all about this harp. We needed a simple acoustic lever harp for one piece. It took a couple months for me to realize that I didn’t need to find one in Duisburg proper – that my harp company, CAMAC could send one from Paris.
But at about the same moment that I realized this, the organizer emailed and told me a harp had been found. She’d had the same revelation, had called CAMAC and arranged for it to be sent. “You can stop worrying,” she told me. So I did.
That was my first mistake.
It all comes down to the word “Blue.” What we needed was a small acoustic lever harp. The one I played in 2009 when I worked last with L’Arpeggiata happened to be Blue. So the organizer asked for a blue harp – and lo and behold, it seemed she’d found the same instrument! She emailed and told me they’d be sending the blue harp.
There was a little voice in my head that said, “I should call and double-check on this.” But, no, I’d just sent her the details of the harp and I was in the middle of five deadlines — and what could go wrong? So I didn’t double-check.
That was my second mistake.
Because “Blue” isn’t just a color — it’s also the name of a specific concert harp model which is NOT an acoustic lever harp.
The long and short is that we got here and the WRONG HARP was here. The wrong TYPE of harp. A harp that will not work with this concert. And worse than that, this harp was probably 10 times harder to send than the harp we needed.
Does this help me be less stressed-out about concert preparations. No.
I can see now where it all went wrong. First, I focused too closely on the language. We needed a harp IN Duisburg, so I looked for a harp IN Duisburg — but it was just as well to have a harp GO TO Duisburg.
Secondly, I forgot how much can be misunderstood shifting from culture to culture, even when there’s no language shift … and this included both a culture and a language shift.
So I feel like it’s all my fault. In fact, I’m sure it is. The fault of a literal mind. But does that help? No. It doesn’t help anyone.
What have I learned? Well, I’ve learned that the first thing to do anywhere and everywhere I’m playing is to contact my harp company – to let them know what I’m doing and to coordinate in general.
Like most everything that goes wrong, it seems obvious now. It could have been so simple.
So the next question is: how will I get the instrument I need here? And the final question is: how will I make the most of the fact that I have the wrong instrument? Stay tuned. This is my artistic cliff-hanger.
What me (you) worry? You can play any harp on the planet!!!
Poor Deborah. You must have felt like they were channeling your blues harmonica story: “Don’t be so particular, young lady. It’s a harp. It’s a blue harp. It’s the littlest one they had.”
Hope they can set it right for you!!