‘Harp Dreams’ tells of musicians’ calling

‘Harp Dreams’ tells of musicians’ calling

By Jan Johnston

Sunday, November 27, 2011

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‘Harp Dreams: Inside the USA International Harp Competition,” narrated by Blythe Danner, offers an inside look into the little known but fascinating world of harp competition.

Every three years Bloomington, Ind., hosts the prestigious USA International Harp Competition. Held at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, harpists from all over the world compete for the coveted first prize which includes a hand-made Lyon and Healy concert harp worth $55,000, recitals in New York and London and a recording contract.

What I find interesting in this documentary are the harpists’ personal stories. Learning to play the harp takes commitment. It’s physically demanding and requires a mental discipline that is not easy for young musicians. So, why do it? Answers vary among competitors, but what struck me is that almost all of them describe playing the harp as a calling. To become a professional harpist is clearly not an easy path. As one competitor puts it, playing the harp at this level can be compared to competing in the Olympics. Harpists, like athletes, must be in good shape. And practicing to be the best — in music or sports — requires great self-control.

If you enjoy watching people doing their very best, and especially if you enjoy music, check out this incredible DVD. I think you’ll agree with me when I say harpists rock.

Jan Johnston is the Collection Development Coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at readingforfun@fvrl.org. She blogs at youbetterreadnow.blogspot.com.

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