TAPESTRY leads annual Harp GatheringWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
More than 100 harpists and harp enthusiasts are set to travel to Sauder Village for the fifth annual The Harp Gathering.
The festival runs from May 18-20 with an optional extra day May 17 at the Sauder Village and Heritage Inn near Archbold. The event, which features exhibitors, workshops and concerts, was started by the music duo TAPESTRY.
Denise Grupp-Verbon is the wife/harpist of the musical duo with her husband/guitarist Michael. The couple decided to start their own festival, now one of the three major harp festivals in the country, after their own experiences with harp events.
“When we played festivals over the years, we thought, ‘Well, we could do that,’” said Grupp-Verbon, who has played the harp since the fifth grade.
Grupp-Verbon said she had always wanted to host an event at the Sauder Village and Heritage Inn. “It’s a beautiful space, even when you’re in the public spaces, you could probably see a place where you could sit and relax,” she said.
The couple started organizing the Harp Gathering in December 2006 and the first festival occurred in May 2008. Now the event gets attendees from all over the country and Canada.
Registration for the festival is “never closed,” Grupp-Verbon said. Last year, one couple from Independence, Mo., “had just decided the day of, ‘Let’s go to The Harp Gathering.’ They called the inn, there was one room, and they flew their plane to the gathering,” Grupp-Verbon said.
The festival’s three concerts are open to the public for $15. At 7 p.m. May 18, TAPESTRY kicks off the show, followed by Frank Voltz. At 7:30 p.m. May 19, Timothy Harper will play before Lisa Lynne and Aryeh Frankfurter. At 11:15 a.m. May 20, the Harp Ensemble will play, followed by Martha Gallagher. Gallagher and Frankfurter are new to the festival, Grupp-Verbon said, adding that she tries to keep variety in the mix every year.
The Harp Gathering also features a harp giveaway contest. The harp, courtesy of Lewis Creek Instruments and Harps, is valued at more than $4,000. Grupp-Verbon will draw the winner and said, “I’m the first one to see the card and you can imagine how cool that is.”
The event includes several educational workshops with topics like “Copyright Mysteries Solved” put on by Grupp-Verbon at 12:30 p.m. May 18, “Jazz Techniques” led by Voltz at 3 p.m. May 19 and “Getting Your Music Out into the World” with Lynne at 9 a.m. May 20.
One of the great things about the Harp Gathering is reconnecting with friends, Grupp-Verbon said.
“I have made friends that I would never have known if we hadn’t been at the festival at the same time,” she said.
Many of the harp lovers and friends come back year after year. “We have a lot of people that have been every year and they’re looking to, ‘Oh, when’s next year?’” Grupp-Verbon said.
The Harp Gathering begins at 5:30 p.m. May 17. On-site registration is $425 for harpists. For a breakdown of the costs of individual events and the full schedule, visit http://harpgathering.com. Fees do not include a hotel room. Sauder Village is at 22611 State Route 2, Archbold. For more information, call (419) 478-4177.