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.
Thank-you so much to the people who have already supported the Harping for Harps campaign so generously. We have already passed the first $1000 mark! That means I’m due to give the first Facebook live performance – this one of Eric Satie’s beautiful First Gymnopedie. It’s going to be today (June 21st) at 1 p.m. on the Riverwalk in Calgary, at the top end of Macleod Trail across from the Harry Hays building. Stop by if you have time or watch on FB!
And at $2000 I’ll be performing Salzedo’s Song in the Night. Please help me meet that next goal!
I love everyone here – I want to stay.
I love everyone at home – my children, parents, friends. I am so eager to hug them all. I miss them so much. Let’s go, I want to take you all from Brazil with me. No, I want to stay but everyone from home to come here.
I love my home – miss my garden, kitchen, my cats, the mountains the cool clear mountain air, camping in my wee little tent.
I love my beach in Rio, the islands in Fiji, the breathtaking mountains in Nepal, the feeling of freedom and joy racing up the hill on a moped to get a little closer to the infinite vastness of the sky above.
I miss my family in Nepal. I want to be there to help them harvest rice, share meals, spicy snacks, drink warm roxy on the rooftop, laugh, be together, be me. No, I need to be here to help them more.
I want to take the children to Canada so they can go to a good school. I want the children here to come to Canada to study in the summer. No, its better for me to be here for them. But then, I’ll need to leave home again, leave my children, my students there, my colleagues, friends…
I love my backpack – the weight feels so good on my back. Can’t wait to explore again – alone, meeting so many interesting people. No harp, no titles, just me. Learn new languages, food, feel unsettled and free.
But I can’t wait to come back here – not just for one month but for 5! Speak Portuguese again, listen to bossa nova, dance samba, walk on the beach every morning and greet all the other regulars. And this next time, bring my own children, or a friend. Introduce them to every unique and wonderful person I hold so dear in my heart.
I want to lie on the beach. Make music with friends. I want to race up a mountain on a scooter, down mountains on skis, learn another new language, improv. I want to fly on the water with a kite – one with the wind, sit alone at a lake so silent I hear the birds gliding overhead.
I want it all, I want you all – all to be with me, all the time.
Ah yes, you are here in my heart – always, everywhere, Forever!
Finding I have a few moments of quiet time this evening, I felt it would be good to let you all know how things are here in Brazil with the harp projects.
After 3 months of intense work getting the 2 projects organized and starting students, I realized that I really did need more time to establish a solid foundation before I could feel confident about returning to Canada. Thanks to the understanding and support of Canadian colleagues, I was able to extend my stay for another month. As it is now, I will be returning to Canada in one week on June 26th, exactly 10 months after my departure.
As you know, at the beginning of March, after introducing the harp to all of the students, many children took the opportunity to try it. What an exciting few days to share that first moment of discovery with so many curious young people!
After a couple of weeks of trial lessons, we had 10 eager and motivated new harp students between the ages of 5 and 13. 4 students are at ASMB (Ação Social Pela Música do Brasil) in Chapeau Mangueira community in Rio de Janeiro and 6 are at PIM (Programa Integração Pela Musica) in Vassouras, a city in the interior of the state of Rio de Janeiro. One of the 3 harps, Carlos, was donated to PIM and the other two, Judy and Henriketa were donated to ASMB. It has been humbling to witness the dedication of the children who have all come from such difficult circumstances. The potential of these children is immense and they have all blossomed in various ways. After less than two months of lessons, on May 6th, two students of ASMB gave their first live performance in a trio with me performing “The Girl from Ipanema.” It was a thrill for us all and one we will not forget. Thanks to the efforts of the director of the ASMB, Fiorella Solares, the media has broadcast, both in print and on television, reports about the harp donations and the opportunity this has given the students. Here’s a link to the TV report – http://noticias.band.uol.com.br/jornaldorio/video/2015/05/06/15464568/projeto-de-musica-em-comunidade-ganha-harpas.html
– filmed in the building in the community of Chapeu Mangueira where the students attend lessons 3 times each week.
With my departure imminent, we decided it would be wonderful to give the students an intensive weekend of lessons, masterclasses, ensemble and orchestra playing. From June 19 – 21st, besides lessons etc., the students will get to know each other and have some fun together – first steps to establish a broader community and support system. For some of them, it will be their first time away from home and to experience the countryside outside of Rio. They are very excited! For me, it speaks to the respect that the parents have for the project and myself and I am honoured to have gained their trust in such a way. When 7-year-old Samuel asked if I could take him back to Canada with me, it made me so much more aware of how dramatically the lives of these children has already changed. Before I agreed to start this project, I determined that if I were to open the doors to these children I could not possibly allow them to close again. Now I am even more committed!
The extra month has been spent doing some longer-term planning, working intensively with my two teaching assistants and getting another one started as well. Both ASMB and PIM plan to get internet in place so that I can continue teaching via skype once a month. As you can imagine, it will be exceptionally hard for me to leave next week but it will be eased by knowing that we are already planning for my return next March.
Wonderful people gave the generous donations to Harping for Harps in order to make a difference in the lives of children who have so little. In the name of the children and in my own name, thank-you most sincerely!
We’ve only just begun…
I am so pleased to write with some great news! After 5 months of travel, on January 31st I finally arrived in Brazil to begin work on the Harping for Harps project for which I began fundraising a year ago.
When I got to Rio, I was thrilled to see that the three harps which I had been able to donate had arrived safely from France! The sets of replacement strings were missing from the original shipment but they are also on their way to Rio now. The humidity here is certainly higher than in Calgary so it’s a good thing we’ll have the extra strings.
In the first couple of days, I met with most of the people with whom I will be working and discussed many of the details involved. There are only a couple of books for teaching so I have ordered some from the U.S. and France, hoping they will arrive in the next couple of weeks. I’ll be setting up two teaching studios as the projects are actually in 2 different cities (Rio de Janeiro and Vassouras, a small city in the state of Rio de Janeiro) so I will be going back and forth every week. There is still a lot of planning to do but I am very encouraged. I will have two teaching assistants, Rafael (seen in the photo above along with my dear friend and colleague, Cristina Braga) and Rayana, who will be with me for most of the time I am with the children. In this way, besides solidifying their own knowledge of harp technique and repertoire, they will also be learning teaching methods and be better equipped to continue the work with the children once I return to Canada.
As the children are now on the summer holiday and will not return to school until March 2nd, I am taking a few weeks up in the northeast of Brazil to work intensively on my Portuguese both in private lessons and in conversation with locals as well as to have some fun in the ocean. The upcoming time with the children is bound to be very intense and there is a lot of work to do to get the projects up and running on a solid foundation in the 3 months remaining in my sabbatical! The time already seems too short but if necessary, I may be able to extend it by one month. We’ll see!
To all of the Harping for Harps donors, I have a request for some feedback. It is quite common here to give names to the instruments (my harps all have names too!) and I would love to have your input on this. I have a few ideas for the 3 harps we have been able to donate so here are three sets of options:
– 1. Henriette, Carlos, Judy. This represents the direct lineage from my teacher, Judy Loman, a prodigy of the great Spanish/American harpist Carlos Salzedo, who was one of the two most renowned students of the great French harpist, Henriette Renié.
– 2. Calgary, Alberta, Canada – no explanation needed
– 3. Gabriel (Fauré), Claude (Debussy), Marcel (Tournier) – 3 of the great composers for the harp in the 20th century.
If you’d like to put in your vote for the naming, please leave it as a comment here. I will have to make the decision by March 1st so please get back to me quickly!
I am so excited, I can hardly contain myself!! As of today, my first flight is booked to start out on my 9-month adventure to explore, learn, share, relax, BE! After several months of dreaming, planning, fundraising etc, it finally became clear that (thanks to Brazilian bureaucracy and the World Cup!) there was no way that the harps for which I’d been fundraising could possibly get to Brazil by September when I had planned to begin teaching there. Sooooo, time to turn things around and instead start my trip where I’d actually planned to finish – well, sort of anyway.
In fact, although I’d thought of taking time to travel “at some point in my life”, this whole adventure was precipitated by another long story. Suffice to say the main protagonists were my eldest son, Jonathan, a middle-of-the-night phone call and the most authentic people I have ever met. Having fallen in love with Nepal, I had promised myself to return as soon as I could to find some way to repay the people there for the amazing support I experienced during my short stay there in early 2013.
So here it is, July 31st, 2014, and after a life-changing 18-month journey (part of that other long story), I have finally booked a flight that will, in a slightly roundabout way, take me back to Nepal. On August 27th, I begin my 9-month sabbatical (“Granted by which institution?”, People wonder and I emphatically reply, “By myself to myself! I’ve earned it!”), not in Brazil as I had expected but instead, at the other end of the world – FIJI!
Why Fiji? Well, it’s on the way to Nepal (generally speaking!), warm, has gorgeous water, fish, birds, wind, flowers, generous, friendly people and countless islands to explore all on “Fiji time”. A perfect place to rediscover life at a different pace, recharge and begin to define myself without 47 strings attached – at least for a few months! I’ll reconnect with them when I get to Brazil in February…
The project that enables musical practice programs for children and adolescents from low-income communities follows the model already exists in many Latin American countries. The social action is oriented to youth facing serious inequities due to the recurrence of hunger, violence and exposure to crime.
Through the creation of community centers that are being deployed in the city of Rio de Janeiro, 800 children and adolescents from communities Dona Marta, Babylon, Peacock Pavãozinho Hat Hose, Complexo do Alemão and Complexo da Penha can develop musical activities of different types: class theory and practice of music, orchestral instruments, choral, luthiery (repair, maintenance and construction of instruments), general knowledge, attend rehearsals and concerts of symphony orchestras of Rio de Janeiro. Additionally, they receive psychological and social care, family care and a basic food basket.
The objective of Instituto Embratel by the Social Action for Music is to promote social development not only allowing access to technology, but also offering the necessary contributions to education included knowledge and skills that can awaken the individual transformative potential.
Social Action for Music is linked to the eponymous NGO created 15 years ago by conductor David Machado, in order to promote social development through music initiative. The coordination of the project is the responsibility of the professional cellist Fiorella Solar.
SAM’s initiative impacts family members and neighbors of the young participants, contributing to the improvement of their relations in daily life and extends the tools to connect the community with the city and society as a whole. Thirst for Social Action through Music of Brazil continues to bring results. In the community of Dona Marta in Rio de Janeiro, a locale that just over a year ago was in the grip of gangs and today has Pacifying Police Units (UPP).
See here the video of the Embratel Institute for Social Action through Music project.