I just got back from a weekend in North Dakota where the Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra and I competed versus Elton John for the concert-going audiences of North Dakota. I performed 2nd harp alongside Twin Cities harpist Kari Douglas-Rundlett as the orchestra tackled Ravel’s Alborada del Gracioso (which contains one of the more challenging orchestral harp parts out there) as well as classics like Debussy’s Petite Suite and Ravel’s Bolero.
I also had the privilege of sitting in the wings while Californian guitarist Micheal Chapdelaine premiered his Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra in three movements: it was twenty-two minutes of bliss. The music reminded me of a cross between something by David Maslanka, Dido, and Florence and the Machines. At moments the orchestra united into a thrilling wall of advancing sound and then suddenly it would dissolve into a lullaby. Often it was hard to sit still for want of dancing.
Some excited moments of the weekend:
-Two of my strings snapped moments before the Friday night rehearsal.
-Some bits of loose plaster plummeted to the stage only feet from the harps!
-I visited local organic venue ‘Dakota Harvest Bakers’ three times in as many days. (I recommend the chocolate-covered cookie dough truffles.)
-I sat directly in front of the snare drum for the duration of Bolero. My hearing might be slightly impaired as a result, but it was worth it.
I will also add that I thoroughly enjoyed working with the members of the Grand Forks Symphony: they were delightful!
Keep reading: Why I didn’t Choose the Flute.
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 to be notified of upcoming performances and album releases.