Wagner’s Fire Music

A while ago, I shared my version of Jacques Ibert’s Entr’acte, which reduces the entire harp part to just two pages, eliminating all page turns. It seems to have been even more appreciated than I expected, because it’s by far the most popular post on my site, and people are still sharing it around. So, it must have been worth putting it out there! Just recently, I was inspired by a harpist on in the user forums over at the Harp Column (where I now work) to share another of my editions: Wagner’s Fire Music.

First, a quick note about “Fire Music”. The term actually refers to the final scene of the last act from the opera “Die Walküre,” which is part of Wagner’s famous Ring Cycle. It is the scene in which Wotan curses Brünnhilde for disobeying him, dooming her to sleep on a rock surrounded by fire, until whenever a hero may chance to come by and rescue her. (Basically Sleeping Beauty, but with dense, German fire and lots of notes.) The orchestral score is available on IMSLP, and you can see that it’s scored for six harps, playing three harps to a part. It’s an intimidating stream of continuous sixteenth notes that need to be played extremely loud and evenly, and so the part can benefit from having clear pedal markings and few page turns. Here’s my rewrite of the first harp part.

Fire Music – Harp 1 [PDF]

Where it gets really tricky is when an orchestra asks only one harpist to cover the entire thing, and then you need this:

Fire Music – Combined Harp Parts [PDF]
*(The pedal markings are in French in this one.)

Netherlands Camerata

I am delighted to be able to announce that I have just been offered the position of First Sub-Principal Harp in the Netherlands Camerata—a new orchestra that is currently forming in Amsterdam. It was a busy time of year during the month of December while I was preparing and video-taping the audition material, but the effort was entirely worth it. I had never dared to hope that a harp position would open up in the Netherlands so soon after I moved here—it’s an amazing coincidence! Several people have asked me for more details about what kind of music I’ll be playing, where the concerts will be, etc. But the first concerts start only in September 2015, so I don’t know too much yet. I’ll post updates as I find out more, and in the meantime, you can check out their website: netherlandscamerata.nl.

Orchestra Audition Training

In an effort to get to know the Dutch Harp community a bit more, I’ve decided to try out for this orchestra audition training course in Amsterdam.


The course is run by Sandrine Chatron, who is the principal harpist for the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra. The idea is that a maximum of eight participants go for four days of intensive workshop sessions this November and then compete in a final audition. The winner earns an invitation to play one program with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra in the next concert season.

I’m still somewhat undecided as to how practical it is for me to do such a course (even if I win the audition I still pay a €200 tuition fee), but I can say that so far it’s definitely helping me get back in shape after the summer holidays, which is going to have a lot of side benefits. I’m busily brushing up my orchestral excerpts, and I already have a handful of blisters to show for it.

Coming soon:
Ravel – Tzigane Cadenza
Strauss – Salome’s Dance
Stravinsky – Symphony in Three Movements, III
Wagner – Fire Music