March 2014

I’m writing this from Victoria Hall Methodist Church in Sheffield. Today I’m playing in a concert production of Bizet’s Carmen. Wonderful music.

Anyone who knows me or who reads this blog will gather that I seem to get into scrapes whenever I have a gig in Sheffield. What is it about this city? Why are its streets so confusing for sat-navs and AA route planners alike? Well, I made it to the rehearsal (just) and am now waiting for the concert.

In times gone by this would be an excellent pub opportunity. But, in the spirit of frugality I’ve brought my own dinner (salad wraps of course), my ipad to play on, and a book to read. The only other people to have this brilliant idea are at least fifty years older than me – oh dear. Also, I don’t drink that much anymore – my wallet can’t afford it and my brain can’t handle it as well as it could when I was a student.

Yesterday I was in Leeds playing Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, an absolutely brilliant piece, incredibly uplifting. I mean uplifting in a very literal sense here – we had to heave two harps onto one of the risers in Leeds Town Hall. Once we were there though, we had an excellent view and I would guess that the sound of the harps would carry much better from our raised vantage point. This was a ‘pub and meal between rehearsal and concert’ gig, mainly because some college friends were there and I also couldn’t resist the siren-call of Thai Green Curry.

So that’s this weekend. Next weekend I’m over in Scunthorpe playing Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius. Long drive, but good music.

The legal dispute I alluded to in my last post has still not been resolved, and just to warn you, there will be a big rant coming when it’s over.

There’s nothing else to report at this point. I’m seeing that as a good thing. I’m booked every weekend for at least one gig until the end of May, I have a big thick pile of music to be practising, and my private teaching in between. Things seem to be ticking along very nicely. This makes for a slightly dull blog post but in real life it’s great. On days with no gigs I can practise in the morning, do emails and admin in the afternoon and spend the evening cooking dinner and relaxing, it’s lovely.

There are exciting summer plans this year for my harp quartet CLOUDS. That’s coming up in the next post.

Until then, wishing you all the best,

Angelina x

Getting up to date…

As the title would suggest, this post will hopefully bring my blog up to date with the various gigs I’ve been doing since Valentine’s Day.

Almost immediately after V-day, I drove up to Edinburgh with fellow CLOUDS member Elfair Dyer to rehearse for a few days with Esther Swift (for more information about CLOUDS click here).

We are currently learning a new trio piece for the International Harp Festival in Caernarfon, North Wales, in April. The piece is a new commission given to Esther especially for the festival. As usual, none of it is written down so we have to actually see each other to learn the music.

I am so excited about the new piece! The theme is mythology so there is a spooky story to go alongside the piece. We get to use loop pedals! The whole piece is quite dark in nature so it’s a world away from what is normally expected of a harp trio (clue: we won’t be wearing ball gowns). The sound is much edgier and more challenging.

I’m happy to say we can now play through the whole thing! We have more rehearsals coming up soon to polish everything off (and to make sure we actually know what we are doing). So fingers crossed the performance will be a success!

A few days after getting back from Scotland I had a very last minute gig. Background music for a Wake. This type of gig isn’t easy (it’s easier than a funeral service though), but the list of songs they requested were very fitting and, actually, I’m going to keep using that playlist for other background gigs too.

The very same evening I gave a talk at the Women’s Institute in Mellor, just to the south of Manchester. It’s slightly in the middle of nowhere, hurray for unlit, snakey roads with only enough room for one car.

I was a little nervous about this talk… I didn’t know if I could fill the allotted time but luckily, with playing, I was fine, plus the ladies asked lots of questions and genuinely seemed interested in the harp and the different types of work that constitute the life of a freelance musician.

The next gig I had was the following weekend, playing for a wedding reception in Sheffield. My Sheffield gigs are notorious for being stressful, I always get lost, but this one was ok. Not perfect but I found somewhere to park eventually.

The reception was in one of the University buildings.

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There was a lot of champagne flowing:

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And, check out the interesting table plan…

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Anyway, this seemed to be a wedding of people who win at life. Everyone was beautiful and gracious (getting louder towards the end… I blame the champagne) but generally a very classy affair.

Last Thursday lunchtime I went to watch the RNCM Harp Ensemble’s lunchtime concert at the Manchester School of Art – a lovely space for a concert like this…

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The photo doesn’t do it justice, trust me it looked lovely. I’ve been out of college for nearly three full years now (can’t believe it) and it’s still a little strange to see a harp ensemble concert that I’m not involved in. I mean it was refreshing in a way – the harp department had been setting up since before 9am! I remember back to my time in college and just loving the feeling of being part of such an amazing team.

Finally, we come to the gig I supposedly had last Friday, now I can’t say too much about this as I’m currently obtaining legal advice from the Musicians Union. But just to warn you, when it’s all sorted out there will be much ranting!

So that brings us just about up to date. I hope you all are enjoying the spring-like weather as much as I am! If you have any feedback please do leave me a comment.