Fascinating music

Intimate afternoon of sublime harp music

Music / “In Transit”, Emily Granger, harp. At Greenaway Studio, Chapman, August 14. Reviewed by POWER.

There’s something about harp music that instantly transports you. The instrument has always added a beautiful sound to works of classical music, but it is a different and delightful experience to hear a solo harp played in an intimate setting.

Harpist Emily Granger performs to a packed house at Greenway Studio.

At Greenaway Studio, a packed house was treated to a sublime afternoon of contemporary works for the harp played by accomplished artist, Emily Granger.

Born in the United States and now based in Australia, Granger has had a busy international career. Dedicated to expanding the harp repertoire, her concert, “In Transit”, featured contemporary harp music from Australia and the United States, reflecting her multiple travels from continent to continent as she made the decision to reside in this country.

There were works by Australian composers, including Ross Edwards, Tristan Coelho and Sally Greenaway, as well as pieces by American composers Libby Larsen, Laura Zaerr, Deborah Henson-Conant and others.

With themes of travel and isolation, serenity and loneliness, the music painted colorful images that engaged the imagination. Each work received interesting introductions from Granger. She completely won over the audience with her relaxed, warm and friendly manner.

It was a well chosen program of works and then choosing the highlights was almost impossible. For this critic, it was “The Nightingale” by Deborah Henson-Conant. Granger explained that it was one of the first pieces she heard as a young harpist, inspiring her to pursue her studies.

For listeners, its haunting, delicate and melodic qualities were magical. Surprisingly, a ray of sunlight shone through Granger’s studio window just as she was performing.

Other works that particularly impressed are the atmospheric “The Old School” by Coelho and “Liena” by Greenaway. From the United States, Larsen’s “Theme and Deviations” and Zaerr’s “River Right Rhumba” were also memorable.

Watching Granger play the harp close-up in this intimate studio was a thrilling experience in itself. Being able to clearly see his elegant finger technique on the strings and his use of the pedals on the harp was fascinating.

A group of young children seated on floor cushions directly in front of the performer were captivated by the experience and held their attention throughout the concert. Perhaps Granger inspired some future harpists as a result of this experience.

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Ian Meikle, editor