Sunday, November 24, 2019

MARIO 'HARP' LORENZI: BIG BAND AND SWING HARPIST





Mario ‘Harp’ Lorenzi (May 29, 1894 - June 1, 1967) was a popular harpist of the 1930's, whose styles ranged from classical to ragtime and jazz.  Born in Florence, Italy, Lorenzi  began playing the harp at the age of four, being taught by his well-known harpist father, Georgio Lorenzi.

In 1908, Lorenzi received his diploma in harp at the Royal Academy of Music in Florence. Soon after that, the Lorenzi family moved to London.

During the 1920's Lorenzi performed with a number of popular dance bands in the UK, including the Jay Whidden Band where he played alto sax, clarinet and harp. Lorenzi's harp playing can be heard for the first time in a recording made by the Jay Whidden Band in 1926 called. “I Don’t Want Nobody But You”, one of the earliest appearances of a harp on a dance band recording.
The harp begins at 1m 03sec.






In the early 1930s, now highly regarded in the dance band circuit, Lorenzi created a series of dance band recordings featuring himself on harp. For many years he appeared in numerous variety shows as Mario ‘Harp’ Lorenzi.  Along with his own dance band, Lorenzi would perform light classical as well as swing and dance numbers.

Lorenzi continued to perform, retiring in 1957 due to severe arthritis. He passed away in the North Hertfordshire District, Hertfordshire, England at the age of 73.  

Below is a recording of Mario 'Harp' Lorenzi and His Rhythmics playing "Ain't She Sweet".


Monday, June 19, 2017

SUMMERTIME, SUMMERTIME!


Take a look at what some of our talented Southern California harpists will be doing this summer! There are workshops, conferences and camps about ensemble work, solo performance, chamber music practice, harp music in places of worship and even a Celtic harp orchestra! There's still time to sign up for any and all!

Click each program name for more information.


IDYLWILD ARTS SUMMER HARP PERFORMANCE INTENSIVE
Allison Allport : Faculty
allisonallport@me.com

Idyllwild Arts is a beautiful and special place. The camp is situated in a dramatic mountain range and forms its own small town of creative students and dedicated faculty. After an intense two-week session, students leave the camp with new friends, expanded musical skills and a greater love for playing the harp. Open to harpists with at least one year of experience, ages 14-18, activities include harp ensemble, chamber music coaching and private lessons with an emphasis on ensemble skills and musicality.
Two Sessions: July 9-22 and July 23-August 5


MUSIC ACADEMY OF THE WEST HARP MASTER CLASS
JOANN TUROVSKY : Faculty Artist
Ticket Office: 805-969-8787

The Music Academy of The West's 70th Anniversary Summer Festival features over 200 events in Santa Barbara, California, many of which are free to the public. The Festival events highlight the 2017 Summer school's 137 fellows from more than 20 states and 10 countries, and nearly 70 faculty and guest artists performing in orchestral, chamber music, opera, guest recitals, live competitions, masterclasses, and more! Two harp masterclasses are scheduled taught by JoAnn Turovsky and featuring this year's Harp Fellow, Alyssa Katahara.
July 11 and August 1.


2017 CAMP KIYA MUSIC CAMP
AEDAN MACDONNELL : Instructor; harp, back-up piano
and Cape Breton step-dancing.

A wonderful little music camp in the Tehachapi mountains. Aedan will be teaching harp for beginner to intermediate levels, as well as music theory. The camp is not limited to harp, but includes many different instruments and the opportunity to try a new instrument.
July 23 - 27.



2017 HARP IN WORSHIP CONFERENCE
BONNIE MOHR : Chairperson, Performer, Instructor
626-357-0355
harpsong1@gmail.com

This 5-Day event (this year taking place in Littleton CO) is a wonderful place to enhance your skills as a harpist using the harp for worship. Enjoy great teachers, performers, fellowship and camaraderie! You will come away from this experience revitalized with new ways to incorporate the harp into heartfelt worship.
July 27 - 31.


HARP DAY CAMP IN FULLERTON
KAFFEE MIMUN : Instructor
Text/call: 714-814-0885 for info.

Kaffee's first summer program will involve ensemble work, practice solo performances in front of an audience and working on music theory. You'll take a walk with your harp to a nearby park for an open air performance! Simply have fun making music together. Ages 8-14 preferred with at least two years of harp playing experience and referred by your harp teacher.
August 7 - 14.

CENTRAL COAST HARP WORKSHOP
MARCIA DICKSTEIN : Artistic Director, Instructor,
Co-Founder and member of The Debussy Trio
310-472-9740

The Central Coast Harp Workshop is a jam-packed musical weekend to remember. Held on the beautiful west coast of Morro Bay, California, time is spent on individual's needs; whether it is repertoire, interpretation, technique, stage presence or physical issues. Chamber music and ensemble playing is a special opportunity during this wonderful weekend of music. All levels and all types of harps are invited!
August 11-13.


THE CELTIC HARP ORCHESTRA OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
AEDAN MACDONELL : Artistic Director, Arranger, Coordinator
aedanm@sbcglobal.net

The Celtic Harp Orchestra of Southern California will resume for its second season! First rehearsal scheduled Sunday, June 25th to practice repertoire for performances at the Seaside Highland Games October 14 & 15. All levels are welcome. More information on their Facebook page or contact Aedan directly.

The Celtic Harp Orchestra of Southern California (CHOSC) is open to harpers of all ages and levels who are interested in playing, performing, and learning about the music of the Celtic countries. It is also a social gathering where one can meet other harpers. It's mission is to preserve and promote the Celtic harp tradition through education, performance, and the support of aspiring and established Celtic harpers.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

MERRY CHRISTMAS, TO YOU.



In May, 1946 after being approached by Mel Tormé during a gig at The Trocadero Club in Los Angeles, it was decided that the (Nat) King Cole Trio would record Tormé and Robert Wells' "The Christmas Song". Nat King Cole, Oscar Moore, Johnny Miller and their manager, Carlos Gastel, were emphatic that the song needed more orchestration than the Trio could provide and requested Capitol Records allow the recording session to include strings. Capitol Records was not interested, insisting the song be recorded by only the Trio members.

On June 14, 1946 the Trio recorded the song at the WMCA radio studios in New York. Cole, Moore and Miller were not pleased with the playback version of the song insisting it required more backup. Finally convinced, Capitol Records decided not to release this first recorded version as planned. On August 19, 1946, the Trio returned to WMCA studios to record the song again, this time, Capitol Records allowed a small addition of 4 violins, a harp (Reinhardt Elster) and drummer (Charlie Grean).

The recording was released fall of 1946, immediately becoming a cross-over hit, which at the time meant white people were buying the recording as well as people of color, something quite uncommon back then.


Harpist Reinhardt Elster freelanced prolifically in New York after the war, recording with many, including Perry Como, Marian McPartland, Nat King Cole, and the NBC Symphony under Toscanini. He soon went on to be principal harpist for the Metropolitan Opera House. By the time he retired, Reinhardt Elster had played in thousands of performances at the Met. Marian Anderson’s racially groundbreaking debut in 1955, Lily Pons last performance in 1960, as well as many performances with Leonard Bernstein at the podium. Elster passed away October 5, 2015 in western Massachusetts at the age of 101.

Click the link below to hear Elster and his harp on the first released version of The King Cole Trio’s August, 1946 recording of “The Christmas Song".


Images above: 
Nat King Cole with his daughter, Natalie, 1955 (photo by Michael Ochs, Getty Images). 
Reinhardt Elster (property of Charles Harrington Elster).

Monday, September 12, 2016

DUSTY STRINGS RAVENNA 34 AND CRESCENDO 34


Dusty Strings makes three lines of harps; the Ravenna series, the Allegro/Crescendo series and the FH series. The biggest differences between these three lines are the woods used, sound and price. The solid-wood design of the FH series will offer the most volume, resonance and clarity of tone of the three designs, however the Ravenna and Allegro/Crescendo series are pretty amazing on their own merits.


The Ravenna 34 (shown left) and Crescendo 34 (shown right) are part of Dusty Strings' low and mid-range priced instruments. Both models offer a good quality, well made, well designed harp with an excellent range and sound. Those looking for an affordable, portable and beautiful sounding instrument will be pleased with either model.

There are important design differences that Dusty Strings intentionally made with the Ravenna and Crescendo models, so if you are looking to purchase either, it is worth taking time to compare the two.

WHAT'S THE SAME?
Note range, similar height and weight. And both models are made using the same high-quality hardware and wood working techniques as Dusty Strings' higher-end FH series.


RANGE OF NOTES:
Note range is the same with both models, the highest note being 1st octave A, going down to 6th octave C. Standard stringing is mono filament nylon, wrapped nylon and wrapped bronze/nylon bass strings. Both models offer lever gut stringing at an additional cost. (Note: as well, Dusty Strings Boulevard 34 model has the same body structure as the Ravenna 34, designed to be strung with pedal harp gut strings.)

SIZE:
Very similar in size. Fitted with the attachable base and 4" legs, the Ravenna 34 harp stands at approximately 54" high and weighs close to 24 lbs. Its soundboard width is 14". Fitted with the removable base and 5" legs, the Crescendo 34 harp stands at approximately 53" high and weighs close to 23 lbs. Its soundboard width is 13.5".

WHAT'S DIFFERENT?
Primarily, woods used and method of construction. Dusty Strings uses clever time-saving construction techniques for both models which allows these harps to be priced at a great value and still be mindful of Dusty's beautiful design and characteristic bell-like tone.

The Ravenna 34 is crafted with a solid ash neck and pillar, laminated European birch sound box and soundboard, with an ash wood-like grained vinyl veneer.
A streamlined method of construction minimizes hands-on work, allowing production costs to be cut considerably. The end result is a low-cost favorable, super-playable instrument.

The construction of the Crescendo 34 is streamlined by using a laminated birch soundboard with bound edges. The neck, back, and sides however are made of solid sapele wood. The addition of solid wood sides and back, along with Dusty's featured "hybrid-stave" sound box construction, makes the Crescendo 34 an excellent, resonant mid-priced instrument.


WHAT ABOUT SOUND?
The Ravenna 34 sound is characterized by a warm, strong bass and clear treble. The Crescendo 34 has a clear, bright treble with a deep, resonant bass.

Typically, harps made with more solid wood have more resonance, clarity, depth and richness of tone than harps made of laminated wood. A laminated wood however helps reduce stress and adds stability to an instrument (super important!). Solid wood allows an instrument to flex and grow with consistent playing, which develops tone. So by nature of their construction, the Crescendo 34 design will give you more resonance and clarity compared to the all-laminated sound box of the Ravenna 34.


THINK ABOUT IT.
Dusty Strings took great thought in creating the Ravenna and Allegro/Crescendo lines. They were designed specifically to be as affordable as possible without sacrificing any of Dusty's high quality standards.

You can't go wrong with either a Ravenna 34 or a Crescendo 34.You will have a wonderful experience playing either, so just consider your needs. Which model financially, would best serve you right now? Then, go with what you like best and what sounds best to you.

For any questions or thoughts, contact HILA. We love to talk harp.
Ravenna series link
Allegro & Crescendo series link
Boulevard 34 link







Monday, December 21, 2015

ROBERT MAXWELL; MAD MAN MADE HARP GO POP



Born in New York, April 19, 1921, Robert Maxwell was a harpist, performer, composer and songwriter known for having composed many popular American songs, including Ebb Tide composed in 1953. His music, which often included harp, has returned in popularity due in part by its use in the hit television series Mad Men.  




In 1964, Maxwell's piece Shangri-La (originally entitled Fantasy for Harp) became a Top 40 hit when Jackie Gleason started using it on his television variety show. Below is a YouTube audio of its original 6 minute 1946 version, performed by its writers, Robert Maxwell on harp and Matty Malneck, conductor. 



Maxwell also wrote Solfeggio, or The Do-Re-Mi Song, which Ernie Kovacs made famous using it in a bizarre bit with the Nairobi Trio; a motley group of mechanical monkey musicians.

Maxwell began to play harp at the age of 10. By high school he was studying under a scholarship at the Julliard School of Music, and by age 17, Maxwell became the youngest member of the National Symphony Orchestra. 

His interest towards contemporary popular music and a more gritty and bold performance style flourished during his recruitment with the United States Coast Guard in a unit commanded by Rudy Vallée. Vallée arranged concert tours for the servicemen which found Maxwell performing his original works along with well-known hits of the time to thousands of audience members. 

Below is a wonderful video made in 1950 of Maxwell performing a medley of pieces. The Man I Love, beautiful.






Wednesday, July 15, 2015

CHICAGO AND 85: COMPARE





The Chicago and 85 series are both a wonderful series of instruments, each providing something special to its player. It could be as concrete as cost or looks, or more personal, such as tone or feel. Inform yourself to their similarities and differences, weaknesses and strengths. Then, whichever you choose, know that either model will bring you much pleasure and joy. Let's play!

The Chicago series is a low cost alternative pedal harp series, well built, responsive with a full even tone. The Chicago's purpose is specific; it's a great instrument at a relatively affordable price.* It's a perfect option for someone moving from lever to pedal, a serious adult student or as a light gig instrument.

The 85 series has been referred to as the work horse of the Lyon & Healy pedal harp line. Closer in comparison to the higher end instrument's construction, the 85's full, rich sound and bright high-end quality make it a choice option for students, professionals, universities and performing arts schools.

SIZE
In comparing models the Chicago Concertino Extended and the 85-E Concertino are similar in size. So are the Chicago CG-EX and the 85-CG models.The Chicago 40 model has nothing in comparison. This small 3/4 size pedal harp packs a responsive and powerful tone. The bottom two notes, the A and the B, do not have a pedal action.   

WHAT'S THE SAME?
The Chicago's focus on a well-built structure, high wood quality, the pedals and the action are the same found in the 85 series. Both series are built from locally harvested hard maple with high quality sitka spruce soundboards. The soundboard tempering or heat treating time with the Chicago series may be less compared to the 85 series, however the tempering methods are exactly the same. Everyone is strung with the same quality and type of nylon, gut and bass wires.

WHAT'S DIFFERENT?
The Chicago bodies are constructed using a 3-rail solid body procedure. You will find this same procedure in some previous Lyon & Healy pedal harp models, such as the 85-P, 85-GP and the 85-SG. Soundboards are generally tapered following specifications to each model. This streamlined method minimizes hands-on construction and allows production costs to be cut considerably. The end result is a low cost favorable alternative to the higher end pedal harps.

The body construction for all other Lyon & Healy pedal harps including the 85 series is a 4-rail body construction with a hand-fitted back panel. Time is focused upon hand-tapering the soundboard to allow the board flexibility in vibrating freely. This construction involves much more hands-on work but which creates a more detailed and responsive sound box and soundboard.  

SO, HOW ABOUT SOUND?
Because the body construction process is so different between the Chicago series and the 85-series there will be a difference in tone. In general, the Chicago harps have a warm, even tone and overall tend to project well. The 85s have a bright tone quality, particularly full and resonant with a rich, deep bass. Their projection is far more than that found in the Chicago series however for its design, the Chicago series will not disappoint. Both series are musically gratifying to play.

THINK, THINK, THINK...
As with any instrument, choosing a pedal harp is like choosing a tool. Consider your needs. What will help you with your playing and performing? Think about size, range, repertoire. Which model financially best serves you? What instrument will help you move forward until your next step up? Which model may work for school, university or second instrument purposes? Which one simply, do you enjoy playing?

BE HARP SAVVY.
Get advice, Talk to your teacher. Ask questions and play everything you can. Always, always, always take any opportunity to try a harp, no matter the model or maker. 

Have a comment or a question? Feel free to contact HILA by email or phone.

Friday, June 19, 2015

11 EXPRESSIONS DE MUSIQUE









No 'harpe', even so, these 11 French expressions will get you ready for Fête de la Musique.*

1. Accordion (accordion): en accordion : crumpled, wrinkled, fan-folded.
2. Chanter (to sing) : chante comme une casserole : to not be able to carry a tune.
3. Cordes (strings) : être dans les cordes de quelqu’un : to be in one’s line of work, to be right up one’s alley.
4. Au diapason (in tune) : mettre au diapason : to bring up to speed.
5. Disque (disc, record) : changer de disque : to change opinion.
6. Flûte (flute ): Flûte! : Darn!
7. Musique (music) : connaitre la musique : to know the ropes (note, the i is not î here).
8. Papier à musique (musical note paper) : être réglé comme du papier à musique” : to be like clockwork, it’s a given.
9. Pipeau (reed-pipe) : être du pipeau : to be rubbish, to be bull#@!%.
10. Sourdine (mute) : mettez-la en sourdine : keep it down.
11. Violin (violin) : pisser dans un violin : to do something useless, to piss in the wind. 

*Fête de la Musique is a free music festival taking place on the longest day of the year, June 21st. Its purpose is to encourage both amateur and professional musicians to perform on the streets together, with basically everyone having a groovy time. These all night extended music block parties have been going on in France since 1982 and now can be found all over the world. It's a wonderful thing really. Sometimes known to get out of hand, but for the most part, people are there to have a good time. 

Images above: 
Born in Strasbourg, Bas-Rhine, France,  Jean-Thomas "Tomi" Ungerer is a French illustrator and a writer in three languages. He has published over 140 books ranging from much loved children's books to controversial adult work. 

Friday, May 1, 2015

HARP ILLUSTRATED: MAXWELL ASHBY ARMFIELD




'Music in New York, Homage to Johann Sebastian Bach' (USA, 1946)
by Maxwell Ashby Armfield. 
Tempera on board. 35cm x 42.5cm (13.77" x 16.73") 

Born at Ringwood, England, Maxfield Ashby Armfield (1881-1972) studied at the Birmingham School of Art in 1899 and later at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris. Part of a diverse group of artists associated to The Modern British Period, Armfield painted a majority of his works in egg or milk tempera technique. He and his wife, writer Constance Smedley, lived for a period in the United States, with time spent near the coast of California. Armfield was a highly regarded illustrator & painter, deeply involved in theater, music, teaching and writing.

Description of the painting from Peter Nahum Leicester Galleries:

"The strings of the harp echo the extraordinary vertical rhythm of the skyscrapers of New York, and through this visual reverberation, Maxwell Armfield suggests the parallel structures of architecture and music. Just as architecture creates and defines space, music creates and defines sound. More specifically, the painting evokes the structure of counterpoint in a score by Bach, whose music, although diverse, is ordered through the vertical relationships of notes within a scale. Accordingly, Maxwell Armfield includes an inscription on the harp, which reads: diverse parts in ordered harmony. Bach wrote very little for the harp because it was not a professional ensemble instrument until the early Romantic Period, but the key to Maxwell Armfield's depiction of the instrument, with its regular array of vertical strings, becomes apparent when envisaging his visual metaphor."

Friday, April 10, 2015

HARP SIGHTING: ROBERT LABAREE PLAYING THE TURKISH CENG

Ethno-musicologist and performer Robert Labaree seen playing an Ottoman harp during a concert of music from Istanbul during the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1985, Labaree collaborated with the instrument-maker Feridun Özgören to create a contemporary version of the Ottoman microtonal harp, çeng. 

As a founding member of the EurAsia Ensemble from 1980 to 1995, Labaree performed and taught Turkish classical music across the U.S. His recordings with EurAsia Ensemble include Eski Dünya ile Sohbet (Conversations with the Old World), Istanbul on the Charles, and Boston Sema. His solo CD, Çengnağme (Song of the Harp), appeared in Turkey in 2001 on the Kalan label. 


Monday, October 13, 2014

HARP IN LA HARP STUDIO OPEN HOUSE


HARP IN LA is pleased to invite you to our Harp Studio Open House event, Sunday October 19, 2014. Come see and play the harps at our studio located in Pasadena, CA. There will be many harps to see and try from harp makers Lyon & Healy Harps and Dusty Strings Instruments.



HARP IN LA STUDIO OPEN HOUSE
Studio entrance is in the back, through the LEFT GATE of the main house.

1981 East Orange Grove Boulevard
Pasadena, CA 91104
October 19, 2014
2:30 pm - 6:30 pm
No appointment necessary
Click here for a map link to the studio.

Featured will be Lyon & Healy's Style 85-CG & Prelude models currently on sale, as well as Dusty Strings' beautiful FH36S model instruments. There will also be Lyon & Healy's Style 23, Style 30, Style 100, Style 150 and the complete Chicago line of instruments. There is also a used Venus Paragon pedal harp available at a very good price.

Dusty's economical Crescendo model is available to try, along with their newest 34 gut-strung model, the Boulevard. Also Lyon & Healy's Ogden lever harp and some special sale-priced Ravenna 34s (limited quantity). HARP IN LA has two Ogden lever harps available for rent. Contact HARP IN LA to make arrangements.  


HARP IN LA now offers Allegro financing for all new harps at creative and competitive interest rates.   

THAT'S A LOT OF HARPS! Our space is small and there is much to see. Be sure and give yourself enough time to stay and play! 

Contact HARP IN LA for directions and questions.
Day of the event, please call Paul's cell number at (323) 854-4296.

Top image: HARP IN LA's Paul Baker moving harps through the Harp Garden to our studio. Photo taken by Kathleen Clark.

Friday, September 5, 2014

HARP ILLUSTRATED: CRISTIANO GIUSEPPE LIDARTI BY NATHANIEL DANCE-HOLLAND




Composer Cristiano Giuseppe Lidarti (1730 - 1793), is shown posing with a beautiful blue harp along with painter Giovanni Battista Tempesti of Volterra, Italy (1729–1804). Both men lived and worked in Pisa and in Rome, primarily.  Born in Vienna of Italian descent, Lidarti, best known for his oratorio, "Esther", composed a huge body of work using Hebraic text specifically for the large flourishing Jewish community in Amsterdam.

Sir Nathaniel Dance-Holland, 1st Baronet, RA (born: 1735) was a successful and notable English portrait painter who studied with Francis Hayman and Angelica Kauffman, as well as various ateliers all over Italy.  One of the founding members of the Royal Academy, in 1790, Dance-Holland gave up a stunning career as a painter to become Member of Parliament in Sussex. He continued in politics until his death in 1811.

This painting is from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon. Click image to enlarge, then click to enlarge again.

Friday, August 22, 2014

HARP ILLUSTRATED: SARAH CURRAN BY WILLIAM BEECHEY (c.1805).


Sarah Curran (1782-1808), the youngest daughter of John Philpot Curran, an eminent Irish lawyer, was the great love of Irish nationalist Robert Emmet. 

Curran met Robert through her brother Richard, a fellow student of Emmet's at Trinity College in Dublin. Sarah's father considered Robert unsuitable, and their courtship was conducted through letters and clandestine meetings.When her father discovered that Sarah was secretly engaged to Emmet, he disowned her and then treated her so harshly that she had to take refuge with friends in Cork, where, in 1805, married Robert Sturgeon. The two had a child which died in infancy. Sarah died of consumption in 1808. She is buried in County Cork. 

Born in Burford, Oxfordshire, 1753, William Beechey was appointed portrait painter to Queen Charlotte in 1793 and knighted in 1798 in recognition of his most ambitious painting, the huge Review of the Horse Guard with King George III and the Prince of Wales. Beechey painted not only the portraits of the royal family, but of nearly all the most famous or fashionable people of the time. Beechey died in London, 1839.