Annual Harp Gathering includes three public concertsWritten by Sarah Ottney | Editor in Chief | firstname.lastname@example.org
Harpists near and far will gather in Northwest Ohio this month for a weekend of concerts, workshops and camaraderie.
The fourth annual Harp Gathering will draw musicians from 13 states and two Canadian provinces to Sauder Village in Archbold on May 12-15, said Toledo harpist Denise Grupp-Verbon, who founded the event with her husband, Michael.
The couple, who perform as a harp-guitar duo called Tapestry, will be introducing several new releases during the event, including a CD, a harp instructional book and a custom-designed harp.
About 125 people, which includes nonmusician companions of harpists, typically attend the Harp Gathering, with many returning every year, Denise said.
“We set it up so everyone eats together, so you can rub elbows with performers. You might be able to sit across the table from someone famous in the harp world,” Denise said. “And having it at Sauder supports the nonprofit village, so that’s pretty cool.”
The weekend will include three concerts open to the public: 7 p.m. May 13, 7:30 p.m. May 14, and 11:15 a.m. May 15. The May 15 show includes an ensemble performance of Harp Gathering participants. Tickets cost $15 per concert and can be purchased at the door. The venue is handicap-accessible.
“Quite a few people come because where else can you see a harp concert?” Denise said.
Besides plenty of hands-on workshops taught by Tapestry and harpists Frank Voltz, Timothy Harper, Kim Robertson, Lisa Lynne, Louise Trotter and Sharlene Wallace, Harp Gathering participants will also have the chance to win dozens of giveaways, including the weekend’s grand prize — a harp.
One popular activity is the “harp tasting,” in which attendees listen to harps being played without being allowed to see external details like color, finish or brand name.
“People have fun trying to pick out their harp and are definitely surprised,” Denise said.
Denise, who has been playing harp since she was 11, said she enjoys the harp because the instrument is almost universally pleasing and also extremely personal.
“The sound you get from it is directly related to the way you pluck the strings,” Denise said. “It’s very personal, tactile and close to your body when you play. It’s therapeutic both to the listener and the player.”
Tapestry’s third album, “The Red Leaf,” is a collection of traditional folk and Celtic music. The disc includes several original compositions by the couple and will be released May 13. For more information, visit www.tapestryduo.com.
Denise, who gives private harp lessons and teaches part time at Owens Community College, will also debut a 60-page instructional book called “Finger Puzzles and Shapes for the Harp” during the Harp Gathering with a companion DVD to be released soon.
“It teaches you what your hands look and feel like when you’re playing. It shows how shapes on the music page look and associates it with how your fingers look and feel on the harp, which creates more confident playing,” Grupp-Verbon said. “This is a new perspective that I haven’t seen much of before. It’s not stuffy or scary like an exercise book; it’s approachable and accessible.”
For a schedule of public events and more information, visit www.harpgathering.com.