I experienced one specific conversation at least five times during the festival:
Sitting down at the dinner table: “Hi, my name is Stephanie.”
“Hello! I’m Anna.” (Or Caroline, or Helen.)
A moment of silence while we eat our lunches. Then, “So, how are you spending your time at the festival so far?”
I begin, “Well, I’m taking three courses…”
My companion smirks. “I did that, my first year.”
I soon understood what they meant! I spent a lot of time packing and unpacking my rental harp, tuning my harp, and holding lightning-quick conversations with harpists in hallways to avoid being late to my next class.
Truly, this festival was like none other. Take a couple hundred harpists, give them all lever harps, and present them with a schedule chalk-full of world-class performances, unique workshops and in-depth classes. Also, cue the snow, rain, and wind, just to keep things bracing.
A few highlights:
-the number of lever changes in the concerts and the resulting feeling in myself: “If they can do it, I can do it!” (With practice.)
-successfully picking out tunes at the late-night sessions, and being surrounded by harpists who felt comfortable (or at least willing to be uncomfortable) in that environment.
-taking classes in harp from Corrina Hewat, Wendy Stewart and Sarah Deere-Jones. I felt challenged and inspired. Now to apply what I learned.
The companionship, the excitement, the inspiration; the desire to practice more, improvise more, memorize more: it was overwhelming in a good way.
I’m a skilled harpist and have always expected excellence from myself. This isn’t my first harp conference, but somehow after a week surrounded by such high-level teaching and performances, I know I can expect more of myself. My goal is to work toward that “more” with both patience and diligence.
Thank you Edinburgh International Harp Festival! I’ll be back.
To see more of my Scotland pictures, read Traveling Scotland: Edinburgh and Stirling.
My attendance of the EIHF was made possible, in part, by funds provided by the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC) through a grant from The McKnight Foundation.
Stephanie Claussen is a professional harpist from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She performs on her harp throughout Minnesota in various concerts, recitals, and collaborations with other musicians. Sign up for her e-mail newsletter receive notifications about upcoming performances.