Talking to Composers

I just had an incredibly interesting last couple of weeks. The Harp Column asked me to write a feature article for their magazine, and the topic I agreed to tackle is about composers who write for harp. I was drawn to the subject in part because it gives me the excuse to talk directly with some of these composers whom I most admire – people like Robert Paterson and Caroline Lizotte, to name a couple. I had great success in getting everybody I contacted to agree to take some time to chat with me, and six interviews later, I’m coming away from last week feeling like I just had six free lessons with great masters!

I asked them questions about everything I could think of: their composing process, what drives them to create, publishing music scores, and so on. I gathered so much great material from them that in the end the hardest part about writing the article was deciding what NOT to include. It was particularly interesting when several of them ended up giving the same answers to a question. Would you have guessed that one of the main mistakes composers encounter in performances of their music is harpists taking the wrong tempo? Did you know that composers describe difficult aspects of the harp (such as the pedals) not as discouraging limitations but as a key to inspiration?

The finished article focuses in on two main topics: the composers’ thoughts about writing music for the harp and about collaborating with harpists. But there’s also a bonus section with advice for harpists who may be interested in composing themselves.

Update: This article was published as “Composer Connection”. It came out in the May/June 2015 issue of the Harp Column, which was Vol. 23, Issue 6, and it appeared on pg. 26.