Nearly a year has passed since we all began to face the challenges that the new virus was presenting to us. My last post in May spoke about Life in Limbo. I have long since realized that we could not remain that way, while also recognizing that moving forward with any kind of specific “Plan” was not possible. At best it could be “plan” with a small “p” along with an internal attitude of acceptance that it would be so for a long time – maybe even forever! Is this what we are all meant to learn? That yes, we can have good basic ideas on how we want to live our lives and at the same time, be open and present to what each new day offered to us? In my own experience, life is certainly most interesting at the edge of “knowing” and in my own spontaneous response, though I sometimes long for a time to breathe and just rest. It’s all about balance, right?!
When COVID-19 forced the cancellation of all concerts, I felt called to find a new and safe way to bring the comfort and solace of live harp music to people who feel isolated, exhausted and anxious. A little injection of joy and relief can go a long way in these challenging times.
By the beginning of September 2020, I had purchased and modified a Ford Transit High-roof van (the only vehicle tall enough to fit my concert harp) into a self-contained, rolling tiny home and concert hall. And so I set off on the first Harp to Heart (HRP2HRT) journey with my beloved harp, Amadei, my yoga mat and my cat Misty for company, intending to ease mental health stress for as many people as possible.
Over the next 7 weeks, I drove 6000km through Alberta and British Columbia and played a total of 33 events for seniors, students, disabled people at seniors care residences, hospitals and schools, to name a few. As I traveled, I also popped up in campgrounds and front yards – wherever people needed to escape the reality of 2020. From my COVID-safe “concert hall,” using an amplifier, I played in many configurations, including for audiences sitting outside in the sunshine, or sometimes, placing the amplifier inside a residence with Amadei and me sitting on the other side of a window. Even Misty became a beloved entertainer from his passenger window or on his long leash.
After an incredible first journey, I got back home exhausted, excited and ready to consider how to move forward with Harp to Heart. An offer from Cam Clark Ford Airdrie for a new vehicle helped me make the decision to purchase a new van to be built to my specs and a sponsorship from Strut Creative for a new website were two unexpected confirmations that I was on the right track. There are many other aspects of planning in the works to be ready to be back on the road for a cross-Canada journey in April 2021. As you can imagine, my personal, emotional and financial investment in this project is great. The cost of gas, harp strings, insurance and mobile internet are ongoing expenses I really need help with in order to bring Live music out into the world right now.
The new Harp to Heart website is under construction and will soon be live. For now, I am asking for your support by contributing and sharing my fundraiser to your communities.
Please click on the Harp to Heart logo for more information and photos from the first trip and follow #HRP2HRT on Instagram and Facebook for more photos and stories. I would be thrilled to have you on this journey with Amadei and me!
Six months have passed since my last post – how much has changed in that time? At this point, I would have actually been back in Brazil but now the covid-19 situation has kept me at home, along with the rest of the world. So now, I’m praying that we all survive this situation as well as possible and use the time it has gifted to us to consider how to build a kinder, more humane world as we move forward into future generations. I have good days, bad days, lonely ones, genuinely happy ones and every possible iteration in between. It’s been interesting to realize that now when I do feel a certain way, I have the time to actually consider why. What is my response to a particular situation or feeling trying to tell me? In a lot of ways, there are myriad opportunities for growth and not just because of the incredible breadth of new offerings on the internet. It’s really encouraging to see to what extent people are finding ways to be creative and closely connected despite our physical distancing and I’m really curious to see how this time will impact the future. Overall, I find myself feeling great hope despite the overwhelming grief and suffering that our global community is experiencing right now and I am sure that LOVE is at the centre of all that we are living right now. We need the faith, trust and courage to keep our hearts open to it.
With fewer vehicles on our roads these days, I thought you might enjoy this video of some beauties from a slightly different perspective than usual.
We're well into this year's Harping for Harps fundraiser and wanting to share some insights into the logistics of moving harps over the past 5 years. Here's a little video that may hold a few surprises for you. Enjoy.
Ten days from now, I leave for Brazil again to teach and introduce this wonderful instrument to another new social project in Rio. Also looking forward to playing Britten's Ceremony of Carols when its 30 degrees outside - that'll be a first for me!
If you can help support this life-changing work in Brazil, please donate here. Thanks!!
There has been so much happening with Harping for Harps when I first began the initiative nearly 6 years ago! A lot os people have asked to know more about it so I’ve prepared a video with some of the history and photos. I hope you enjoy it!
There will be two more short ones coming to help you get a real feel for what this journey has been like so far. I know many of you have followed it as much as possible and maybe this will help you feel even closer to the action!
From the children and from myself, thank-you very much for your support. By working together, we are truly opening bright new horizons in the lives of these young people!
In the course of a long career, I’ve been blessed to share profoundly the power of music both from the stage and as a listener. In my experience through the harp, it can speak to people on a level far beyond words and can open space for transformation. When I heard about the tragedy in Brumadinho in January this year, where more than 200 lives were lost in the collapse of a tailings pond and numerous bodies buried with little hope to be found ever again, my heart broke for those people left behind to suffer such unimaginable pain. Maybe the music and space we share on Monday at this concert will offer a few moments of calm and the space for them to experience the transformative power of love as they move forward, already feeling forgotten by the world. It’s my prayer and offering.
Oh my, how time flies! It has been 5 months since my last post though given how much has been happening I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that it’s actually been that long. Nevertheless, I’m well overdue to give an update and to say thank-you for the amazing support in the past months. Right now I’m in Houston International Airport waiting for my next flight to Rio and then on to Salvador.
In June, thanks to the financial support of the Avon Foundation for Women, I was able to return to Brazil to teach in Salvador as well as a full week in Rio starting a new harp class with a social project there. I also took another harp with me so there are now 8 harps that have been donated, thanks to the support of the generous donors who have contributed in various ways.
Here are a couple of photos of my time in Salvador with the wonderful students there. We had lots of lessons and two masterclasses exploring healthy harping, proprioception and all kinds of other useful concepts that help understand how we use our bodies, not just at the harp. I love how the students are so trusting, dedicated (some of them travel 3 hours each day just to practice!) and so eager to try new things. I ask a lot of them and they always play along. I can’t wait to see them again next week – once again, thanks to the Avon Foundation.
But let me backtrack a bit to the harp moving. Typically, I fly with United Airlines as they have the most direct routing (Calgary-Houston-Rio) and so far, the harps have always arrived in great condition. The flights cost more but because I’m usually taking the harp wrapped only in bubble wrap and in a bicycle box, it’s safer to have fewer transfers. The staff are always interested and helpful when I arrive to check in and even more so, people are super curious when I arrive and pick up my “luggage” in Brazil. In June, my check-in didn’t go as smoothly as usual though. Normally I pay a bit extra, about $100-$150 for the oversize box. The rules are always the same but apparently can be interpreted quite differently. So much so that this time when I arrived at the check-in, I was told it would be $500! There was no way I could pay that! So I took a big breath, chatted, asked if they could consult with a manager etc etc, waited, happily chatted more about the harp and what I was doing in Brazil, calmly waited more until finally the attendant came over, pasted a baggage tag on the box, handed me my boarding card, asked me to tape up the box (that includes doing all the bubble wrap etc which I always leave til the end so they can see the harp – and even then sometimes it still gets reopened!). Then she helped me load it on the oversize luggage ramp and wished me a good flight and successful trip. I paid $0!
There are so many examples of the generosity of people and companies that have been coming up lately. I have to say, I’m pretty overwhelmed and incredibly grateful. There are so many stories to share and I will start trying to put them out a bit more regularly! In the meantime, I’m off again, eager to see my students and also a little concerned about the security situation. There’s an extremely important second-round run off election on the 28th – the day I fly home. Really hoping that things calm down and the politicians begin to find ways to do the job they are meant to do which is serve all of the people of their wonderful country that I have grown to love so much!
I’m really looking forward to this special evening tonight and wishing all of the mothers I know and love could be there. I have met so many incredible people in my life and travels who not only were profound role models for me but for so many others. In such turbulent times, full of confusion and fear, my prayer is that everyone in the world has someone in their life who can give them that kind of mother’s love. What a world we could have if we each experienced such unconditional love every single day!
What a crazy year 2017 was! Plenty of opportunity for growth within all the challenges. 2018 was welcomed with it’s blast of warm weather after a horribly cold Christmas. This Sunday, we heat things up even more with a concert of great music for harp and brass quintet, played by the Foothills Brass. I just love putting together a programme of unexpected and interesting musical collaborations that will draw the audience out of their comfort zones and preconceptions and into something new and exciting. Here’s to a great New Year!