London to Istanbul: A Harp Journey Across Great Britain and Southern Europe

Just another WordPress site

London to Istanbul: A Harp Journey Across Great Britain and Southern Europe

Hello! It looks like there are a few of you watching and so I thought I would start the stream a little bit early just to check the sound. So if you are listening and you can hear me okay or if it needs to change can you leave a comment for me? And you could also check to make sure if you can turn it up on your end if it’s not loud enough because I’m using a microphone this time, so you ought to be able to get pretty good sound even if you turn it all the way up I’ll just hang out here and wait for some comments that come in. I heard “loud and clear.” Thank you so much; I appreciate it. It’s helpful. I think I will play a little tune – I think I’ll play “Wild Mountain Thyme” just so you can hear the harp – make sure you can hear that okay hmm I might move my mic just a tiny bit this direction. There we go Please if you’re still having any issues, let me know and I’ll be monitoring the comments throughout. I do see it’s seven o’clock so I’m going to start talking about the concert. I’m really happy to see all of you; I recognize some of the names and I’m happy to share this concert program with you. I actually came up with the idea for this program about a month ago and chose all the music for it, and so I feel like the tone of all this music is a lot happier and more lighthearted than how I’ve been feeling these last few weeks, and I think how we as a community have been feeling these last few weeks. So I hope that this can still be a enjoyable evening for you and that it can be peaceful and a moment of rest So the the idea for the concert came out of the Coronavirus, of course. I was thinking about this summer and how everything that we usually do during the summer is changed. And how very few people will be going on vacations and there won’t be camps and festivals, and fairs will be canceled. And so I thought maybe I will think about some of my past travels and just enjoy those again instead of going on new adventures. So this is my way of bringing you along with me and we’re not going in any geographic order; we’re kind of skipping around based on what kind of music I thought would sound good next to the previous piece etc. So. We’re going to start off in London And I will be reading for you some excerpts from journals that I’ve kept or

letters that I’ve written while I was on vacation. This isn’t my actual journal but … there we go So my friends and I went to London and we were staying in a bed-and-breakfast on the outskirts of London, close to the airport and we got there around suppertime so the nice couple who owned the bed-and-breakfast said “You should take a walk down to the 16th century pub that is nearby, and you should go through the churchyard, because it’s an experience.” So we went through the churchyard as directed and I wrote, “Now normally I put no stock in the idea of a graveyard being a scary place. But as we left the friendly sidewalk lined with brick row houses to cut through the churchyard, as instructed, I felt a supernatural sort of chill filled the air. “Maybe I’d been reading too much ‘Anne of Green Gables’ recently or maybe it was the purplish dusk, but the crumbling black headstones jutting out at odd angles from the mounds of uncut grass seemed unexpectedly menacing. Even the muted organ chords emanating from the church building added to the atmosphere.” So my friends and I agreed that neither – none of us would have wanted to be walking alone through that churchyard that evening. We did end up going into the church right after that because it was open, and we had a lovely chat with organist who was preparing for his Sunday morning service. And after that we had a lovely supper at the 16th century pub. And it turns out that I’m actually quite tall, as I’ve been told in my life, and in the 16th century people were shorter – apparently – because the beams of this pub came to about here on me and there were all sorts of signs “Duck!”, “Watch out for your head” so the music I’ve chosen to go with this experience is the Scottish ballad “The Selkie” and I’m interested to know if you are familiar with selkies or not? And this is – it actually originates up in the Shetland Islands and there are seals up there. So the selkie is a mythical mythical creature in Scottish folklore that is a seal in the ocean and they can shed their seal skins and walk as humans on dry land. And this is a piece that I learned when I was a young girl and it just always had sort of an otherworldly quality about it that I loved. So, hope you will enjoy Thank you

Somebody does know of the selkies. Mic does cut out the reverb hmm I think, I’m gonna change a setting, if you will just pardon me, in my audio By the way in honor of this program I’m wearing my travel dress. This is the dress that I take on all of my trips because you can stuff it into a luggage, and it comes out mostly unwrinkled. Okay, I’m gonna try that and we’ll see if it’s any better. Please comment one way or the other Alright. We are going to travel to the south of France now. So I lived actually in Montpellier, which is on the southern coast of France, for two years so a lot of these travels were based out of the South of France. But I was coming back after a summer spent in America and we had a fall retreat. And so my friend Janette and I took the train down to Sête, which is a small town south of Montpellier along the coast, and then another friend of ours picked us to take us to our guest house. So we were driving through the French countryside and at one point my friend pointed out the window (and we were right next to the sea) and it was getting a little dark at that point and I just saw this three-masted ship that was out at sea and it was lit from top to bottom. It looked like something out of “Pirates of the Caribbean” or out of “Peter Pan,” you know when it’s all covered in the fairy dust And it was just magical. My friend, he said he thought it was probably going to Morocco. And suddenly I just had this need to go to Morocco. I haven’t been there yet but hopefully someday. So I’m interested to know if you have experience – you know, somebody just mentions a place and suddenly you desperately want to go there. So, to represent this in music I’ve chosen a cantigo de Santa Maria and this is a group of about 400 or so pieces that were written in the 13th century, in what is now Spain. And these were pieces that pilgrims possibly would sing as they were going on their pilgrimage. And the reason this seems to fit for me is that there was a pilgrim route that went straight through the downtown of Montpellier and was marked with little shell, brass, whatever they’re called, in the road and I would walk along that and think of those pilgrims So this one is Cantiga 384 and it translates in English, the name, as “The Monk who wrote Mary’s name in three colors.” And the three colors were gold blue and rose I love that one. Good, I’m glad there was an improvement. All right, next we are not

moving too far. We’re just going to Spain So I had the privilege of visiting Nerja, which is kind of- it’s a resort town in the south of Spain – two times for a week each time. I was on a retreat and had a lot of time to just walk along the beach and explore the town. And I made this list, that I sent in a letter to my siste, of all the things that I loved about Nerja It starts: “wind whipped palm trees, and deserted fire blackened brick ovens, and goats in pens, and rows of cabbages, and old British couples, and little kids on bicycles. Colorful laundry and Spanish music and clapping from behind plastic fences. And clouds resting threateningly over the hills. Orange trees and junky old cars like in America and the smell of the sea. There is an air of happy – dilapidation about the place.” So I really enjoyed my brief, brief moment in Spain so in honor of that I have learned a Spanish dance. This was originally written for guitar but then I’ve transcribed it here for the harp. And it is so fun Here we go. The music that I bought for it just calls it “Spanish dance.” I’m curious to know if there’s another name for it? So if you it, please, write it down for me the traditional Scott -Spanish tune

That one is a lot of fun. I was hoping to actually perform it for you on my lever harp but it turns out there are about 30 different leverage changes and I thought it’s safer to do it on the pedal harp Our next stop on this vicarious vacation will be in Sorrento. So Sorrento is a city in southern Italy and it’s close to Pompeii. So my friends and I had taken the train down and we spent the day at Pompeii (which was great) but there is no shade whatsoever at Pompeii except for that my friend Lisa had brought her umbrella. And she very kindly lent it to me otherwise I think I would have wilted and not loved it. But we got home to Sorrento where we were staying at an Airbnb And the thing that I remember the most about the city is that has all these courtyards, and high walls, and narrow streets but there were vines kind of spilling out into the street and they were covered in blooming flowers. So I remember it smelled really nice and it was just this kind of weird, garden feel in the middle of a city. Anyway, we went swimming that evening down in this little just, maybe 20 feet of rocks, but there was a beach there that you could go swimming. And there was just something magical about being near the city, but swimming in the bay and we could see the mountain across the bay and it was lovely. So then that night we went home to our Airbnb and we didn’t have a view of the bay, but if you stood on a chair on the balcony you could see over the roof and you could see all the lights at night kind of wrapping around the bay. And my friend Aaron, he got up there, and he looked. He said it looks like somebody draped a whole bunch of Christmas lights across the shore. So I just loved that image for this city. For Sorrento I’m going to play a piece called “Reverie,” and it is by Hassalmans, who is a famous French harp composer. And there’s just something buoyant about it that reminds me of swimming in Sorrento Thank you. I’m just going to take a minute here and read some of your comments. Thanks you

for the applause. Ah, good to see you Some of you I don’t know your names; You might be in disguise. Maybe I actually know you in person and I just don’t recognize your name. All right. This next piece is inspired by a fortress in the north of France. So it’s called Mont Saint Michel, and it is a peninsula and sometimes it’s an island, depending on the tide. But it’s sits all alone out near the sea and it looks like Minas Tirith or the castle at the beginning of Disney movies, or something like that. But I was able to visit with some friends and I just fell in love with it. It’s made out of stone this grey stone but it’s all kind of turned green from- kind of- it’s not quite moss …What is it? It’s turned green. I liked it. Anyway, what I wrote about it (there’s a monastery there, right at the top,) and I wrote: “Of all the religious places I have seen thus far in Europe, this was my favorite. Sitting on the plain wooden bench in the main chapel, slightly chilled and refreshed by the stormy sea air, I felt as if I could have been a nun. Here there was just stone and wood and a space to worship God. So I’m actually going to play for you a dance from Brittany. Mont St. Michel is in Normandy which is in the north of France but Brittany is the region that is just to the west of it. And it’s a Celtic – it’s one of the Celtic nations. And so this type of dance is called An Dro. And the dance itself: you all hold pinkies in a line and the line kind of snakes back and forth throughout the room as you go. And then your arms move up and down in time with the music. And it’s really fascinating to watch; I I tried it once and I didn’t know what my arms were supposed to do and so I ended up with really sore pinkies. People weren’t being mean, you know; it’s just like your arms don’t know where to go. So this is An Dro from Brittany

Thank you guys. All right, so we’re gonna go to Scotland next. I’m not actually going to talk about the Scottish landscape because if you have been to a concert of mine before you’ve probably heard me say how much I love it. I’m gonna share that we were going to the castle Eilean Donan, which is -oh it’s in the Highlands. And we – it was actually quite a frantic experience because I had bought the wrong tickets to get on the train. And they were for the following day; we only found this out about two minutes before our train was supposed to leave. And so finally the conductor let us in and then we were kind of hustling onto the train and trying to see: okay we need to buy new tickets now, how do we do that? Are we going to be able to get a refund for the old ones? It was a little frantic. So. I thought it’s not a true travel experience if you don’t have some sort of a unpleasant experience almost missing something. Back to the castle though: Eilean Donan. I was really looking forward to this castle; it is the most photographed castle in Scotland, and it was a dream of mine to go there. The day that we actually got there was very sunny and so I was disappointed. I wanted it to be moody and misty and rainy, but it turned out to be good anyway. The castle itself was rebuilt in like the 1920s and so had kind of a “Downton Abbey” feel to it as opposed to the medieval sort of feel that I was expecting. But I really enjoyed one particular aspect of the architecture and I wrote in my journal later: “Everywhere scattered throughout were little lookout windows with tiny seats next to them that gave views of the loch and the mountains beyond. If I lived here I would sit for hours and read or write or play harp.” ‘Cause we all dream of living in a castle. So for this I’m going to play for you “Skye Air” and this is off of my Celtic CD. Skye is the island that’s just a little ways to the west of Eilean Donan. I don’t think we could actually see it from there but – it has the same feeling of wide-open spaces Have any of you been to the Isle of Skye by the way or been to Eilean Donan? I

recommend it. Next we are going to travel to Capri, which is another Island, but it’s off the coast of Italy. And my friends had this plan: we were going to take the ferry to get to Capri and then we were going to pay for another boat ride to go around the island. And I thought, “We just took the ferry to get here! I’m not spending more money to get back on a boat. I’m gonna go explore the island.” But then it turns out all of my friends were going to go on the boat, so instead of feeling left out and sad I decided to pay the 15 euros to go in this boat ride. Anyway as we were discussing which boat we should take, a man came up to us he said “My name is Luigi and I have a private boat.” “I will take you all” for however many euros it was. And we thought about it and we said yes, and it turned out to be the best decision ever. It was this adorable little boat and it had yellow and white striped awning in the middle and had white cushions all around. And he drove us around the island -in his boat- he would point to things “Take picture! Take picture!” and I actually didn’t have a camera on that trip. I decided to bring a journal instead, which is what you’re experiencing now. But I wrote that, “I liked the view of the cliffs. Luigi said we might see goats I immediately prayed that we would, and we did, but also I liked staring out to sea and feeling the waves toss us about and spray us with salt Laura and I spotted tiny purple jellyfish in one of the coves.” And the water there was the color of a swimming pool; it was incredible So I have a piece that has the same buoyant feel of being on a boat, that I really love. It is actually – it’s called “Morceaux à déchiffrer pour la harpe.” It translates as a sight reading assignment written for the Paris Conservatory in 1882. So it’s kind of a silly little short thing but it has this drama but I like about it Isn’t that cute? I like it. And just taking a moment to look at your comments. Oh I’m

glad some of you have been to Skye Fantastic, thank you. Alright, our next stop is another island! For living in Minnesota, I actually don’t spend a lot of time around water, in my native environment, and so when I travel I get really excited about it Santorini is an island off the coast of Greece. And you may have seen it in calendars; that was where I first saw pictures of it. It has all the white buildings with the blue domed roofs Sunsets are a big thing in Santorini They say that it’s the most beautiful place to see a sunset ever. So my friends and I, we looked up where are you’re supposed to watch these sunsets. And there’s a ruined castle they say it was perfect, so we got there early and we set up, and we were gonna enjoy everything A few minutes before the sunset there was this guitarist that came and set up And I was so excited I thought “this is going to be amazing, we’re gonna have traditional Greek music to enjoy this sunset” and the mood was gonna be great And then he started playing and he was playing American pop ballads from the 80s. And it was kind of a letdown because I’m not a huge fan of music from the 80s in general but also it didn’t seem to match, in my mind, at all what the soundtrack should be for that moment. So this piece is closer to what I feel like it should have sounded. I also wanted to just share that we did take the donkeys You can go down to the shore and then take the donkeys up those steps to get back. And I do realize there is some controversy with this which I was not aware of at the time but I do feel like the donkeys that we rode were in very good health. And in fact they were very enthusiastic. I was kind of expecting it to be like riding a horse where you get on the horse and you have reins and you have some sense of control over where you’re going to go. And I also thought that the men who owns the donkeys would be coming up the steps with us but actually it was just – they got us all up on the donkeys and then they sort of said “GO!” and the donkeys ran. And they had – I don’t know if they – it was like they were racing each other. And it was kind of scary but fun! So there’s a sense of excitement to that adventure that is in this piece, which is called Oopla! And this was written by Kim Robertson it is an amazing Celtic harpist and she gave me permission to play this today, so thank you for that. And this is kind of closer to the soundtrack I would have wanted for a sunset in Santorini

I’m excited to have been able to share that piece; I really love playing it Yes I need baklava now as well. Please send it through the webcam. All right, we’re going back north. We are going to Ireland, and actually we’re going to Northern Ireland. I got a chance to visit there because I was living in France and the flights are so cheap inside of this little region of Europe and Great Britain. It was going to be, like, 35 euros to get to Northern Ireland from France. And we picked Northern Ireland because a friend of ours who worked at the local Irish pub in France recommended. He said there are fewer tourists, and he was from Northern Ireland. So we asked him for a list of places to go and he gave us a list that included 13 pubs, which was more than we could hit in five days, for our group, but it was very kind of him. We did make it to one amazing pub in County Antrim in Bushmills, and I had checked and they had live music on Thursday evening. So we went and there was a harpist and two violin players and a bodhran player. And when I got to talking to them the harpist so kindly let me actually play two tunes with them. And she had her penny whistle ready, so she played with us and it was just a dream come true to play in Ireland (Northern Ireland). The pub itself looked exactly like I imagined it would; I wrote, “It was beautiful: hardwood floors, low-beamed ceilings, and a roaring fire, the mantle decorated with copper kettles and the like.” So I’d love to go back someday. I’m going to play an Irish jig for this one. This is called “The Old Favourite” it is from my Celtic CD Thanks for listening. I know it’s a little strange to play that particular

tune, an Irish jig, on my big pedal harp but I felt like the logistics of moving harps around and getting in the right place with the microphone would be just too challenging for me tonight. Oh, Sharon! I’m glad I’m making you smile Thank you All right. Next stop we’re going back to Italy. Piazza Navona is a plaza in Rome I had no interest in seeing whatsoever but my friends were excited to see it so we stopped by and it turned out to be a lovely, lovely little interlude. I’m interested to know if any of you have found places like that: that you had no interest in seeing and then it ended up being the most delightful thing ever. If so, I want to hear about them But I just wrote that, “It was beautiful to see Piazza Navona at sunset, filled with vendors selling scarves and artwork and light-up squishy toys” (which in my mind is associated with the fourth of July) but it really worked It was- it was lovely. So I’m actually gonna play an etude for you. This is “Etude #2” by Pozzoli and I learned this on the sly, actually. I was practicing pedal harp and in the harp room – there were other students practicing in there – and this was open on the music stand one day when I walked in So I sightread it and instantly fell in love, and did end up buying the book So I’m reading up my own copy now. And for those of you who are familiar with it, I am adding some repeats so if you get lost that’s why. It’s longer than it is supposed to be

This is the piece that convinced me to actually learn etudes. Okay we have a few more. This next piece is in Athens in Greece. So we had gone to the Acropolis during the day and it was amazing, but we wanted to visit it at night also. So all the hills around the Acropolis are covered in olive trees and they’re open to the public so you can wander. So we went back at night and there was this opera that was playing in the amphitheater. It was Don Giovanni (I looked at a program) and you could hear the music and the singing kind of, just drifting over the hills. So we went up to Mars Hill and it was beautiful; you could see all the lights of the city and you could also smell all the marijuana of the teenagers that were smoking up there. And so we thought we would try find someplace that was a little bit more deserted. So there was a hill over here that we climbed and eventually just sat down at the top of the hill and we were kind of in this just little island of darkness surrounded by all the lights of the city I wrote, “We were in a dark island in a sea of golden lights. The Parthenon, one mountain over, glowed yellow against a black blue sky. The opera still continued and music from the restaurants on the opposite side clashed faintly around us We sat and drank it in.” so I thought I’d play for you some opera . This is part of the Intermezzo from the Cavalleria Rusticana by Mascagni, that I’ve played with orchestra before but I just arrange this for solo harp for this occasion because I’ve been wanting an arrangement All right. Thank you. All right, oops! Here we go. I have one piece left to play for

you! “hank you so much for accompanying me thus far on this kind of weird little “popping up all over the place” and if you did enjoy it I would ask you to consider sharing it with somebody. There’s also a link for tips if you’d like to donate to me via PayPal or Venmo. And I’m also actually on a new website called “Buy me a Coffee” so you can – I don’t have the link for that but you could look me up on that one. So this last piece is in Istanbul, as you probably expect from the title of the concert. And we ended our European vacation in Istanbul and we got to explore the Grand Bazaar, which was just fabulous It was amazing. And I was walking with some my friends Tim and Jen and they wanted to buy a scarf. So we walked into a shop and my friend Tim asked, “How much for this scarf?” and the shop owner said, “As much as I can get.” And we all laughed and then they bartered and came away with a scarf that they really loved. But the shop owner also said, “Would you be interested in buying a carpet – a rug?” and Tim and Jen kind of looked at each other and shrugged, and said, “Sure! We’re interested.” and then I wrote, “Next thing we knew, we were following some Turkish man through the crowded paths of the bazaar, passing through arched corridors with glowing lamps and cafes filled with white-shirted men drinking coffee and smoking.” And we proceeded to another shop where the owner greeted us, had us sit down and he started displaying these carpets He had an assistant there who kind of held them and then let them roll out so that we could admire them. And my friend Tim, again, said, “How much for the carpet?” and the man said, “Oh about $2,300.” Tim said, “Oh no! This is not – we didn’t plan on this.” And the Turkish man was kind of hurt, and he said, “Oh you have to let your love of carpet grow in your heart.” Which I just loved that! And then he said, “This isn’t the carpet you’re looking for.” And so soon we found ourselves following another Turkish man through the paths of the Grand Bazaar and eventually out of the Grand Bazaar into smaller and smaller streets and we’re kind of like “are we going to be able to find our way home after this?” And we got to a third shop and the shop owner Omar greeted us; he had a sit down. He gave us tea and we talked about life, and traveling and they bartered and eventually Tim and Jen bought a rug. That they were very pleased with. And I was happy to have been along for the ride and not having to buy anything or worry about the bartering. So It was a fun fun experience. This piece is called Katibim or Uskedar and the melody is actually common to the region. It’s a traditional melody but the words that give at this Uskedar name were, as far as I can tell, popularized around the 1920s so the words are more modern. But this is the first Turkish piece I’ve ever learned so it’s a pleasure to share it with you There you have it We will end in Istanbul and I thank you

very much for joining me. And thank you for your kind comments. And thank you for somebody getting the Star Wars reference I love it Wonderful I think I will. I will. I will play one more piece, which I thought this through ahead of time. And I wanted to share with you this piece because it connects to the way that I travel the most frequently, which is via my imagination, by reading books. I love reading, and I’ve been all over the place – to places that don’t exist- in books. So this piece is called “Moss, Wood and Thicket” and the subtitle is “That feeling you get when you think about the Lord of the Rings.” And I know some of you have probably heard it before because I love it, but I wrote this in high school when I was thinking about going off on adventures in my imagination. So hope you enjoy There you go. Thank you so much for joining me

Have a great evening!