This is a blog series featuring performances of my  harp showpiece “Baroque Flamenco” by other musicians. Click HERE to link to the overview blog Baroque Flamenco Around the World.

Today’s Featured Performer: Eleanor Turner


TURNER Eleanor Headshot with Harp color

Eleanor Turner

I’m a harp soloist, chamber musician, composer, arranger, harp teacher, lover of all good music, wife and mother. I’m motivated to collaborate with other musicians and I love to work with dancers and other creative people to combine ideas.

I love to challenge and surprise myself and enjoy traveling but also try to be around as much as possible for my 2 and 12 year old children. (This photo, by the way, was a selfie in our rehearsal room in New Orleans last summer, in front of the sleek black CAMAC electro-acoustic harp I used for the performance.)

(Hint: Eleanor says “Twitter and Instagram are my current favourites!”)

DESCRIBE THE FOLLOWING PERFORMANCE OF ‘BAROQUE FLAMENCO’ INCLUDING WHERE & WHEN IT WAS:    In this video I’m playing “Baroque Flamenco” with the Louisiana Philharmonic in the summer of 2014 at the American Harp Convention with you conducting, DHC!


Q & A

1. If you had to describe the experience of playing “Baroque Flamenco”  in 5 words or less, what would they be?

Liberating, fun, engaging, virtuosic, vibrant

2. What do people say when you play this piece? Do you have favorite memories of people’s reactions to it?

“It’s so much better LIVE” is one of my favourite reactions – it’s all over YouTube, but it’s true, it is SO much  better live!

“I love your cadenza” and of course harpists saying “I can’t wait to learn it!”

General non-harpist public can be really excited by Baroque Flamenco and I love hearing that they had “no idea you could do that on the harp!”

And “you really DANCE when you play that!”

they had 'no idea you could do that on the harp!' @EleanorTurner #harp #BaroqueFlamenco Share on X

3. What drew you to this piece – why did you choose to learn it??

I had never heard the piece when I bought the music!

It was actually featured on the front page of the (where I used to order all my music but there’s no longer a UK outlet) for a while and I knew I wanted to learn every solo piece that DHC had written.  Her “New Blues” was one of my favourite pieces and the only DHC in my repertoire at that point, so I just ordered “Baroque Flamenco”  and started learning it.

I then started rooting around for youtube videos and so on, bought one of DHC’s early recordings of it on itunes, watched it on DHC’s ‘Invention and Alchemy’ DVD and got really into it!

4. What does this piece add to your repertoire (and/or your life) that you didn’t have before?

This piece has been hugely important to me as it’s the only piece I perform that really allows me to be free but virtuosic, to legitimately show-off as much as possible and be the extrovert that is at least part of my character, a ‘dancer’ (at least in my mind!) and also has an element of improvisation yet is highly structured so I can’t go too far off the beaten track!

It is also a very physical piece; meaning that the music and the percussive use of the harp creates the physicality itself, so nothing is forced or put-on, it is all essential and intrinsic to the music and the performance.

the percussive use of the harp creates the physicality itself #harp #BaroqueFlamenco @EleanorTurner Share on X

5. What would you tell someone else who’s thinking of learning this piece that you wish you’d known before you learned it?

I made a lot of mistakes through not re-reading the music after initially learning it. There were so many places where I had made assumptions about the direction of the percussive strums and had neglected to revisit it soon enough after getting the feel for it.

It is SO GREAT when you read carefully and interpret all DHC’s painstaking notation. I didn’t find the notation confusing, once I’d worked it all out, I had just been lackadaisical and was relying on my natural feel for the piece.

[Editor & Composer’s Note: This is exactly why I created the 4-week “Baroque Flamenco Beyond the Page” course.  Even with the notation and description, it’s so much more effective when I can  ‘show’ exactly how it’s played!]

6. What do you think you can get from working directly with the composer of the piece that you can’t get from the sheet music?

I am eternally grateful that I had the opportunity to work with DHC on this piece, in person, and several times, too.

When I stood next to DHC as she showed me her flamenco strumming, it was completely different to mine – so confident, smooth, heavy and TOTALLY un-harpy.

it was immediately clear what she meant by turning the harp into a percussion instrument #harp #BaroqueFlamenco @EleanorTurner Share on X

It was immediately clear what she meant by turning the harp into a percussion instrument for this piece – I now advise students to completely forget that they are playing a harp when doing this piece – don’t just ‘alter’ your harp hand position to be able to strum percussively, completely re-envisage the whole thing so that you are strumming ‘rasgueado’ style on the flamenco guitar, slap the soundboard firmly but not aggressively – using the whole hand and the heaviness of an arm filled with rhythmical intent.

See, it’s very hard to describe in words! This is why I was so privileged to actually work with DHC.

Of course, now we are extremely lucky as we have her genuinely inspired, amazing and impressively thorough ‘Baroque Flamenco Beyond the Page‘ course which I have done myself and highly recommend to all.

7. Anything else you want to say?

Thank you for the music!


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