For the past few six months I have been involved in the 'Composing for Harp' scheme being run by the contemporary music group based in Manchester, Psappha.
Six young composers were selected to write a new 5 minute piece for solo harp and so far I have had three workshops with each of them as they have developed ideas for their compositions.
Each of the works have been very different in style and I was delighted that two of the composers chose to write a piece for lever harp - all the other pieces have been written for pedal harp.
Both pieces for lever harp utilise pedals as my Starfish lever harp has a built in pick-up. One of the pieces uses these pedals, and the other piece uses electronics and a volume pedal.
One of the compositions for the pedal harp utilises a lot of preparation. This is a photo from the first workshop when we were trying out sounds. That piece has now developed into using coils, paperclips, a pencil with rubber grip, lots of card and picks.
One of the compositions is a tricky one to count with interesting sub-divisions and uses clever de-tuning of some strategic notes. The other two pieces for concert harp are (surprisingly) tonal.
They are all very different in compositional style and I have really enjoyed working on them so far.
Having gone through a few drafts, the final versions of the pieces are imminent and due in in a few weeks time. I'll then be recording all of them in a daylong session in May where they will be filmed. The resulting final videos will be uploaded to Psappha's impressive library of compositions that they have supported since they started doing this scheme.
It's been an interesting project working with 6 composers at one time and I'm very much looking forward to recording all of these pieces.
photo credit - Chris Payne and Psappha