Tuesday
Jul292014

Day 29 in Arauca, Colombia

(Note: this addresses a harplist thread in which people complained of teachers discouraging their students with harsh criticism.)

Harplist friends and others

This thread ("not musical") has a lot of good insights for teachers - establish goals, give encouragement, etc. These values are definitely present in the harp teaching that I have experienced here in Colombia. As I've described elsewhere, a teacher takes several students at the same time, moving from one student to another and offering instrTuction and encouragement.

This week I'm in Arauca, Colombia, with a new teacher, Nelson Acevedo; links here and here

Acevedo has a studio where he offers coaching for one-hour sessions. When I arrived, there were three other harpist practicing. He charges for an hour session in this workshop environment. I'll be with him all week, but I may simultaneously try other teachers.

It is amazing to have a good selection of teachers, in a small town like Arauca. Folks here readily distinguish between a good teacher and a good performer (many fine performers are not good teachers).

Acevedo quickly tested my skill level and then assigned exercises which I was able to quickly learn. After I passed initial scrutiny he begin instructing a song I've been wanting to learn, Alma Llanera. This has been called the second national anthem of Venezuela: examples here by Venezuelan youth orchestra directed by Gustavo Dudamel and as sung by Placido Domingo, and finally a solo version (from Peru of all places, on a Paraguayan style harp!).

(This song references the "Arauca Vibrador," the rushing Arauca river, and because I am here in Arauca, on the banks of the river, my host thinks I should not leave without learning this tune.)

I'm writing this morning to reinforce important ideas about teaching. I have been a teacher at college level and now as substitute in public schools, but I am very far from being a music teacher. With harp I am in the role of student, and far inferior to children 8 and 10 years old here. 

Despite my limited skills, I certainly appreciate the welcoming approach I have received from harp teachers here in Colombia. The group setting provides motivation. I get and give encouragement to others. Without undue disparagement, I am able to rank myself above some, below many others.

I'm impressed with this approach to teaching a musical instrument. I wonder why we do not see it in "continental" music education. Or, am I just not looking in the right place?

Wednesday
Jul232014

Latin Style Harp Music Still Trending Around the World

Harplist friends and others,

Tomorrow I will leave Bogota for 12 days, then return here in early August to catch my flight back to West Virginia on August 7.

Last night I sold my little 26-stringed travel harp to Alejandra, a young woman who will play it on the Trans-Milenio, a network of express busses that travels throughout the city on dedicated lanes. My host, Hildo Ariel, encourages this “busking.” He notes that in such circumstances a woman will often get better tips than a man would, and can make a living working this way for 6 hours a day.

(He uses his two given names - Hildo Ariel - for publicity, leaving off his two surnames: Aguirre from his father, Daza from his mother).

Hildo is devoted to promoting Latin American harp music, and particularly the traditional regional style known as joropo or arpa llanera. I share this devotion, that is why I came here. I still insist that Latin American harp styles are “trending” in the US and around the world. A good example is Japan, where Latin harp styles have been adopted and polished to a high level of performance. Examples:

Yoko Yoshizawa - Pajarillo (joropo style) 

Mika Agematsu – Quirpa (joropo style) 

Mika Agematsu - Moliendo Cafe (Grinding Coffee, a Venezuelan popular song) 

Shinsaku Yokoo - Tren Lechero (“Milk Train”, A Paraguayan “Orange Blossom Special”) 

Rieko Kamiyama - Cascada (Paraguay)

Paraguayan style has penetrated much more widely around the world, but there is room for more diversity. Besides the joropo tradition of Colombia and Venezuela, we need more of the jarocho from Mexico and the huayno from Peru, among others.

Has anyone else on harplist been to Plaza Garibaldi in Mexico City, where musicians display themselves and look for customers? I have. Last night I learned from Hildo that there is such a place in Bogota, called La Playa (the beach). Various styles are offered – joropo, mariachi, vallenato, etc. There is competition for business. Hildo does not go to La Playa. His prestige allows him to command fees for a musical group amounting to US $500 or more. There are good musicians who will work for much less, under $100 for a group of four or five musicians.

Hildo points to a problem that musicians have everywhere: clients are often looking for cheap or free music. When they offer him food and drink, he refuses, saying “I have food at home, and I don't drink!” Here at Academia, students are taught stage presence and grooming for professional appearance, and the business of music.

Hildo's students have been very successful winning competitions in regional festivals throughout the country. As a result, he says, his students are no longer invited in some places where a community wants locals to win.

The regional festivals promote “queen” contests which are more than just beauty contests. In these competitions, the winner must display a range of talents – specifically harp, cuatro, maracas, dance, and singing. Hildo is grooming his niece, Tatiana, for these competitions. Tatiana is especially good with maracas, and good also with dancing and cuatro, but he says that to win she needs more practice with harp and singing. These awards can amount to thousands of dollars.

As I've said before, this centuries-old musical tradition is alive and well; it is not a “revival.” And, I'm determined to say, joropo music is trending once again.

Tomorrow I will go to Arauca, Colombia, in the llanos, the plains, on the border with Venezuela. This is the heart of the region that gives us the joropo, musica llanera, featuring harp, cuatro and maracas. After more than three weeks in Bogota, I'm eager for the change of scenery.

Sunday
Jul132014

Trending: Harp Music in Latin America

Tatiana, 14, and Sergio Nicolas, 15

Harplist friends and others,

Latin American harp music is “trending” - growing in popularity. I'm convinced.(see Youtube links below for evidence)

I'm in Day 14 here in Bogotá, two weeks into this 5-week adventure. I'm being treated like a king by Hildo Ariel and his family at Academia Llano y Joropo. Each day, DOZENS of musicians filter through the establishment. Young and old (mostly young), all ages and skill levels.

Why do I insist that harp music – specifically, the joropo tradition of Colombia and Venezuela – is solidly grounded and growing?

Well, three examples would be the young people involved. I posted Youtube videos in the last couple of days: eight-year-old Martin Cortés; 10-year-old Juliana Gomez; and the combo of 11-year-old Pablo Enrique Camacho and 13-year-old Juan Zambrano. These are just a few of the dozen or more sub-teens who are already advanced in the tradition. When they grow up, they will make their marks.

In 2013, the Academia celebrated 25 years in operation as a private music school. In that time, Hildo Ariel claims that 4000 students have come and gone. He says that when he started, there were in Bogotá perhaps 15 harpists making a living as musicians; now he thinks there are at least 250. Many of them, perhaps most, got their start, directly or indirectly, at Academia Llano y Joropo.

After 14 days I can glimpse the weekly routine. Each morning, recorded music begins before 8 AM. As morning progresses, family members and visitors begin musical practice, but it remains relatively quiet in that no more than two or three people are playing simultaneously. After almuerzo (a full lunch), it may actually be quiet for an hour of siesta.

Through mid-afternoon and evening, there is a crescendo of activity. After school, after work, the place fills with children and adults. Amid the noise (bulla in Spanish) of everyone playing at once, individuals practice, listening closely to their own instruments. Groups of two or three may clump together. Hildo Ariel rotates among the students, instructing. A relatively isolated space for groups is the garage, which is really just a separate room in the house.

On Friday evening, there is a meeting of Arpas de Colombia, a group made up of a dozen or more harps, several cuatros, and several participants playing maracas. This group is currently rehearsing for a public event set for September. After rehearsal, individuals come forward for performance practice, with the group as an audience. Hildo Ariel instructs them on fine points of a gracious presentation, such as pleasant expression, eye contact and stage position.

Saturday is the busiest day. Parents show up with younger children, who are given special attention by all present. These children are brought by their parents, and in some cases a parent takes the opportunity to begin or to resume instruction as an adult student. There are refreshments for all.

Sunday is a day reserved for family, but of course, it is a musical family so there is always music.

In conclusion, this musical tradition is alive and well. Furthermore, this is no revival, but a continuation and resurgence of a centuries-old tradition. I must wonder why music historians do not pay more attention to Latin American harps. This music clearly has roots in Spanish and Arabic culture of the 16th century. Whereas the harp in Europe was displaced by keyboard and other instruments, in Latin America the tradition has continued unbroken to the present day.

And I'm happy to say, once again, that joropo music is trending.

Tuesday
Jul082014

Day 9 in Bogotá - Herencias Performs at Community Meeting

Tonight I attended a community meeting which featured a musical performance by Herencias, a group of young musicians from Academia Llano y Joropo. The harpist, 15-year-old Sergio, and the maraquista, 14-year-old Tatiana, are the children of Hildo and Marga, my hosts. The cuatrista is 13 years old, the electric bassist, 15, the singer about the same age. I had heard them practicing at ALJ, a couple of nights earlier. At the performance, they were sensational!

The meeting was to promote energy conservation; it was labled Apagon Ambiental, which could be translated as “big turn-off.” The audience was well around 200 people, including many children. It was sponsored by the City of Bogotá and Colombian secretariats of environment and health.

The program was a mix of teaching and entertainment. Much of the program consisted in calling folks up from the audience to answer questions about various environmental and energy issues. For example, one was asked what is the national tree; when they could not answer, they were coached. Another asked about the eucalyptus trees which grow here : where did they come from? Answer: Australia. The default question was “what can you do to save energy” and the standard answer was to turn of lights, etc.

Everyone who was called up was coached, if necessary, and eventually was rewarded with a package of compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Herencias came on stage in full costume, the boys in traditional black jackets, the girls with bright skirts. After two songs, an instrumental joropo began, and folks from the audience were encouraged to dance. Hildo's wife Marga, her sister, and others from Academia were among the dancers.

It is perhaps worth noting that this neighborhood, and the audience, appear to be solidly middle-class. It is not elite, but is situated near a large green space, Bosque San Carlos, where many Bogotanos go to walk, jog, and use exercise machines which have been installed for the public.

With Herencias, and with all musicians at ALJ, the performance standard is extremely high.

(NOTE: I know the picture is wrong, I will try to fix it tomorrow or do better next time.)

Monday
Jul072014

String Color, Muscle Memory, and Latin Technique

Turlough O'Carolan was blind. It did not matter the color of his strings. His sightlessness might account for rumored shortcomings as a performer. It did not diminish his talents as a tunesmith and as a gracious guest (or flatterer).

Latin American string coloration came up in recent private correspondence, prompting me to think about string color and muscle memory.

Here are my perceptions (facts from my point of view):

1) Default key per "harplist" standard is C, C's are red, F's are blue.

2) Default key is F in Paraguay (per Nicolas Carter), F's are red, C's are Blue.

3) Default key is D in Colombia (per Hildo Ariel) and ... wait, let's not go there yet.

If the difference between Paraguayan and harplist standards is enough to confuse many of us, I suggest that many of us (myself included) are overly dependent on watching the strings.

Naming of "default keys" does not imply no key changes. It's just that when the key is changed, the harpist must correctly adjust for color pattern changes. The pattern is not simply the individual string color, but its relation to the colors of adjacent strings. 

Assuming key of C, in harplist standard, the tonic is red, the fourth blue. In Paraguayan, the tonic is blue, the fourth is red. Notice, however, that RED marks the "default" root  in both (F in Paraguay, C in harplist standard). But while blue marks the FOURTH (F) in harplist, blue marks the FIFTH (C) in Paraguay. This accounts for some of our difficulties switching the colors.

Now, regarding string coloration in Colombia, Hildo explained that the only general consensus is that the D strings should be DISTINCTIVE FROM THE OTHERS. He adds there is some lesser consensus that the FIFTH interval (NOT the fourth) should be of the SAME COLOR as the tonic; so D and A should be the same color.

Just now at ALJ I surveyed 14 harps, tuned in D, to see whether colors were consistent with these principles. Most strings here are dark colored, red, blue, black and even green, but there are clear, yellow and orange strings here and there, and even VARIEGATED strings. (I could not survey 8 other harps that were in cases.)

To be consistent, the D's and A's SHOULD BE THE SAME COLOR, while other strings may be of any color EXCEPT that color. That distinctive color here at ALJ is YELLOW. 

I could only judge TWO of 14 harps to be entirely consistent. The other 12 are "semi-consistent," showing various deviations. On these other harps it is not hard to see the D's and A's, when you look closely and get familiar with the particular instrument. Often the deviation is not hard to deal with, a wrong-colored D in the low range or clear instead of yellow in mid and higher ranges. 

I could go on about tactics to cope with the situation, to build muscle memory. That might be another post. Here, I would note two points to take away.

1) The Colombian practice in "default" key of D marks tonic and FIFTH (A), not (as in "harplist standard") tonic and FOURTH (F). This is like Paraguayan in that (in "default" key of F) distinctive colors are given to tonic and fifth (not fourth). Habits from harplist standard will not work. 

2) The main string we need to see is the root or tonic. From there, we can (or must) rely on muscle memory to find the other intervals.

Paz

Sunday
Jul062014

A (harplist) reply to Cindy in Austin, further details on harps in Latin America

Cindy, thanks so much for the further info, and your interest.

As you are in Austin, Texas, I strongly encourage you to make contact with Rene Devia, a Colombian harpist now located in San Antonio. Here's a link to a youtube, Cuando el Llano Despierta (when the plains wake up). 

I corresponded with him one time, he replied he would be willing to travel. Maybe other harplisters in that region can read this and take some action to bring him into more public attention. 

You say...

You get an idea here of the difficulties of trying to revive a broken tradition. It's wonderful that the harp tradition in South America is so strong and is not broken, or showing signs of becoming so. Do you know how far back the harp tradition there goes? 
You hit it right on the nose! 

This is a living tradition, no need to revive and wonder what it was really like. I'm not strong on historical inquiry, but from notes by Alfredo Rolando Ortiz in one of his books (Latin American Harps: History, Music and Techniques), I understand harp came with Spaniards in the early 1500's, arriving at ports such as Veracruz, Cartagena, Buenos Aires, and points between.

The harp reached landlocked Paraguay, up river from Buenos Aires, and bloomed into what we have today. I believe some insights might be found in a movie The Mission, set in the 18th century and depicting what was by then a very mature syncretic musical tradition.

From Colombia (Cartagena) the harp spread to Venezuela, splitting in two regional styles. The arpa llanera style developed in the lowland plains of the vaste Orinoco river. A highland style developed in the present Venezuelan state of Miranda, on the river Tuy. I call it Mirandina, but it is also called Tuyera or simply Central. I gather that this style is much less persistent than the arpa llanera style which is prevalent in much more sparsely populate areas. (You can google these various terms to find examples on Youtube.)

The harp entered Mexico through Veracruz, where the Jarocha style is still very strong; and penetrated inland.
Is it a written tradition?
Mostly not written music, but the traditional forms have been written down in recent times or after the fact. Written history, I don't know, but there is a book, in Spanish, called El Arpa en Venezuela, written by a friend of mine, a pedal harpist, Fernando Guerrero. (The book contains some photos I took on a trip with him in 2005).
 
Do they still play any of the older music and older styles, or have things mostly moved on to modern styles?
This is the greatest news! Although there is evolution, the older music and styles are very much alive. I will probably write more about this. More importantly, I hope OTHER PEOPLE will take an interest in the living history of harps in Latin America, and of course in the music itself.
For Colombia and Venezuela, the most clearly ancient music consists of a couple of dozen fixed forms called joropo; this is the dance music I have mentioned. A form called tonada is gentle, associated with milking and lullaby. In between is a form called pasaje which includes generally romantic songs.
Just for fun, here's a list of ten joropo forms, maybe someone will recognize a term from early Spanish music:
quitapesares, diamantes, cari-cari, kirpa, zumba que zumba, guacharaca, gavilan, cunavichero, mamonales, caracoles
A modern or more evolved approach is called estilizado, "stylized". I first heard this term applied to Carlos Orozco. Among other harpists with modern styles are Edmar Castañeda  and Enki Bello.

Thank you, Cindy, for your interest, it has been a motivator for me to write.

 

Sunday
Jul062014

Day 7 in Bogotá: Teaching the harp (maybe applies more broadly)

I slept all night for the first time, woke up and went for a walk. There is a park nearby with walking and jogging paths, exercise machines, and many Bogatanos taking advantage.The high altitude here (8600 feet) has kept me feeling weak till just now.

Hildo and I had further conversations about teaching the harp. He said that a couple of pedal harpists visited here at Academia Llano y Joropo (ALJ), to see how he works. They found it surprising to see one teacher serving the needs of several students at the same time. The visitors were somehow involved in the idea of establishing pedal harp instruction in Villavicencio, a lowland center of the regional harp tradition (arpa llanera).

Hildo recommended that they establish groups of at least three students at the same time. As described elsewhere, the teacher would go from one student to another, allowing each to attempt whatever move was on the program. They might be at the same or different skill levels. Furthermore, they should not be just once a week. That is not enough to sustain motivation. Students at ALJ are encouraged to come five days a week, or even six (but not Sunday). They seem welcome to drop in whenever they can.

Three at a time makes it more economically feasible for teacher and student. A teacher can work up to a larger number. Hildo says he likes to work with ten at a time.

I'm wondering, what do harp teachers on this list think of this idea? I confess my ignorance; is anyone doing anything like this?

In my limited experience, this sort of coaching takes place to some degree at harp conference events and workshops. However, the idea of ALJ is that it should be a sustained practice, not just occasionally, but daily.

Saturdays are special at ALJ, I discovered yesterday. There is a sort of community celebration or gathering. Two adult students appeared; their obligations do not allow the 5-day routine. And there were several sets of parents bringing their younger children who do not manage to appear five days a week. Still, the routine consists of a circuit of teaching, involving Hildo and his son Sergio, and also other more advanced students.

Saturday is also special because there are refreshments, provided in turn by the families or by the students themselves.

Academia Llano y Joropo is an institution the like of which I have never seen or imagined. But I am becoming a believer. (In Venezuela I did see the kind of group teaching that I describe here, but not so fully institutionalized.)

Latin American harp styles, techniques and repertoire are "trending," in the sense of that word as now used. This is a coming phenomenon, I feel certain. I am gathering the names of Latin American harpists in the US, who might be called upon for your local harp event. On my list now are just a handful - Pedro Gaona, Silvio Solis, Abel Rocha, Rene Devia, Enki Bello, Nicolas Castañeda, Nicolas Carter, Daniel Rojas, Vidal Garzon. And of course, Alfredo Rolando Ortiz, but he is already well established. 

Again, Harping for Harmony Foundation will offer financial support for the promotion of such events, wherever you may be, with these or other qualified Latin American harpists. What's more, I will do my best to attend your event, wherever you may be; I would not want to miss it!

From Bogotá, best regards,

Saturday
Jul052014

Harp and Dance in Bogotá (and a rant about accordions) - posted to harplist

Saturday, I am in my sixth day here at Academia Llano y Joropo in Bogotá. I am working on three new pieces, under close and demanding scrutiny of Hildo Ariel. But the exciting thing this morning was watching a dance lesson.

Tatiana (14) and Sergio (15) are the children of the family, but already so grown-up! Sergio is already an outstanding harpist, and Tati plays maracas like you have never seen.

Anyway, Tati and Sergio had a dance lesson from a young couple that came to the Academia. I will try to post some video somewhere, somehow, but for the moment all I want to do is make a strong point:.

HARP MUSIC INCLUDES DANCE MUSIC!!

The dance aspect is not entirely lost with Celtic, but I venture that most harpists on this list are not much interested in harp and dance. You all are mostly into sweet, mellow, lyric, soulful, angelic(?!!). Am I right?

This is not to demean the lyric, the sweet, mellow, etc. That aspect is VERY DEFINITELY PRESENT in Latin American styles, as any superficial investigation will show.

Watching the dance lesson was VERY INSTRUCTIVE. They used recorded music, some of the most "raucous" that can be found. It was TOTALLY CHARMING to see these young people so lively and enthusiastic. I mean, c'mon, harpists, the range of musical reactions is wider than is generally acknowledged on this list.

I'm betting Beth Kollé could comment on harp as applied to Scandinavian dancing, and I know I've seen a couple of Irish harpists with dance licks (can't name them right off).

This is becoming a rant, but hey. The accordion has probably edged the harp out of the dance business. Here in Colombia there is an accordion style called Vallenato (go here to hear it, if you dare!).

For some of us, it calls up the Far Side cartoon: "Welcome to heaven, here's your harp; Welcome to hell, here's your accordion.

So, I'm not really against accordion music, I actually played it for a while. But I like the harp better. Just because the accordion is good for dancing, doesn't mean the harp can't or shouldn't also be.

On this rant, I gotta remember the time, many years ago, when I was playing accordion, I mentioned to folk music collector Alan Lomax that I thought the accordion was due for a revival. His reply: "God, I hope not!!

He went on to say that the accordion in Russia and Eastern Europe doomed to extinction all sorts of little string and wind instruments.

On the same line there is a Russian novel (Oblomov, by Ivan Goncharov) in which an effete noble (Oblomov) bemoans the construction of a road leading to his country estate. In essence, he complained that the peasants would "start wearing boots and playing accordions."

OK, can I stir up any blowback? Whatever. I'm just having the time of my life.

Thursday
Jul032014

Music Education in Bogotá: the example of Academia Llano y Joropo

 “How are you liking the noise?” Doña Marga asked me this morning, on the second day of my visit. The noise is the sound of 20 or more students, all different skill levels, all playing at once.

Cacophony; bulla in Spanish. But it is a productive cacophony. This is Academia Llano y Joropo, a music school in Bogotá, operating from a moderate-sized house that serves also as residence for Hildo Ariel Aguirre Daza, his wife Marga and their children Sergio (15) and Tatiana (14).

The school is a family enterprise going back 25 years. Hildo's son Sergio also gives instruction on harp, and Tatiana on maracas. They also play in a “garage band” called Herencias, “heritage”. I attended their rehearsal, literally in the garage; they are terrific! Other youngsters participating were singer Violeta; electric bass Alejandra; and singer-cuatrista Jorge Mario.

Early in the day, before students arrive, the house is quiet for a while. However, inevitably, someone begins to practice, or to play recorded music, or both at the same time! This is a welcoming place for young musicians to hang out.

Doña Marga says she and family are so used to the daily raucous sound that they miss it when they are away. There are 34 registered students, ranging from small children to adults. There are at least a dozen harps spread about the first floor, patio, and garage, each with a stool nearby.

The teachers, Hildo and his son, move from one student to another, listening, coaching, and demonstrating correct moves. This is very efficient teaching. In the same time as a conventional American music lesson, these folks manage to serve a dozen or more without difficulty.

Also, not to be dismissed, there is a huge, infectious enthusiasm among the students!

Monday
Jun302014

Day One with Hildo Ariel Aguirre Daza

I've previously declared my devotion to Latin harp style, technique and repertoire, and particularly ARPA LLANERA, the regional style associated with lowland Colombia and Venezuela. That devotion is what brought me yesterday, to Bogotá, to Academia Llano y Joropo, with renowned teacher and performer Hildo Ariel Aguirre Daza. More, in days ahead, but just now I want to reflect on my conversations with Hildo last evening about levers.

Hildo, like others in this tradition, alters individual notes with a fingernail at the soundboard. He is very proficient and with this technique can render tricky Paraguayan tunes (e.g. Quinta Anauco in three versions - by Hildo then by Fernando Guerrero on pedal harp, then by Nicolas Castaneda with good view of the hands. (My brief search did not find a good example with levers.) A llanero favorite of mine is Apure en un Viaje, sung here by Francisco Montoya

When I asked him about levers, he said "I have a harp with levers, but it is not here now, I lent it to a friend." So he does not think levers are required for chromatic music.

However, switching keys is another matter.

Levers are great for switching from one key to another, but Hildo says levers are generally NOT the best way to get "alterations" on individual notes. Even with levers, he would use the fingernail technique in many cases. Note, particularly, a lever switch requires two moves (engage then disengage) while the fingernail method requires just one move. The ideal, then, might be to have levers but not to use them for every alteration, picking the better approach depending on circumstances.

A llanera harp with levers is recently introduced by Camac, in collaboration with Colombian Edmar Castañeda, bringing new vigor and evolution in Latin American music. Here's hoping.

I came to Bogotá yesterday, to boost my harp licks at Academia Llano y Joropo. Hildo and his family are wonderful hosts; the school and residence are together. There are 25 harps lined up in the rooms of the first floor. Hildo and I see hopeful signs that the harp world will begin to pay more and broader attention to the Latin American sources.

I will likely have more to say in days ahead, in pursuit of my own personal mission in life,

Harmony and community, locally and globally, through harp music
.

Wednesday
Jun252014

Countdown to Colombia


In a couple of days I will be departing for Bogota, where I'll spend the next several weeks with Hildo Ariel Aguirre Daza at the Academia Llano y Joropo.

Sunday
Mar302014

Reflections on Nicolas Carter, and more

A week ago I said farewell to Nicolas Carter, an outstanding harpist in the Paraguayan tradition, and a fine human being.

From March 16 - 23, Nicolas Carter traveled to Indianapolis, IN; Morgantown, WV; Warrenton and Markham, VA; and Washington, DC. Details from advance publicity here.

In Morgantown, our local newspaper gave advance publicity for the March 20 events, then covered our workshop and produced a 2-MINUTE VIDEO.
I will paste this into the website journal now. Shortly, I will review the further events of Nicolas's tour, and maybe talk about our future direction.

 

Monday
Mar242014

A wonderful visit with Paraguayan harpist Nicolas Carter

Nicolas Carter is a Paraguayan harpist of exceptional talent and skill. He was enthusiastically received between March 14-23 by fans in Indianapolis, IN; in Morgantown, WV; in Warrenton and Markham, VA, and in Washington, DC.

The promotional information, now out of date, is here. 

Tuesday
Mar182014

Nicolas Carter arrived in Morgantown yesterday

He and I went to the Rio Grande restaurant, played for more than an hour. This will be a great week.

Check out the tour here

Wednesday
Feb052014

Thinking maracas today!

I've been playing maracas, inspired by Tony Dentan.

This morning I read his website, fairly brief, worth looking at.

There I discovered this, a young boy "jamming" joropo. Very impressive.

 

Friday
Jan172014

Nicolas Carter to visit Morgantown on March 20, 2014


FREE
 Concert

by Paraguayan harpist 

Nicolas Carter

at South Middle School

500 Park Lane, Morgantown, WV

7 PM Thursday, March 20, 2014

Sunday
Dec152013

Paraguayan harpist Nicolas Carter to Morgantown in March 2014??

Paraguayan harpist Nicolas Carter and I are discussing a possible visit to Morgantown, WV. He has given me possible dates in late March and early April.

I met him in October at the Southeastern Harp Conference, in Ashville, NC. His concerts are great and his workshops are terrific!

Please DONATE with Paypal to support this live, local event featuring a Latin American folk harpist. Funds in excess, if any, will be used to support a Harping for Harmony Foundation programs, specifically to feature Latin American folk harp music and musicians in West Virginia and elsewhere.

Saturday
Aug172013

Viaje a Mani

I have been visiting my friends John and Judy Kovac, he is a harp nut like me.

Among other things I've been recording myself for posting online. One of my efforts is Viaje a Mani, originally sung by the great Francisco Montoya. The song tell of a trip by airplane from Venezuela to the Colombian town of Mani, famous for musica llanera.

Here's a Youtube link to the original by Francisco Montoya:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BxxCyV1x1Q

I'll post my own brave effort shortly.

Friday
Aug092013

Maracas in Venezuela

The rhythm of maracas is essential in the musica llanera - con arpa, cuatro y maracas.

Here is a youtube link to illustrate. There is no harp, just cuatro and maracas. Adjust the tone on you speakers to accentuate the maracas. More on this in later blog entries.

(Aviso: pretendo escribir una mezcla de ingles y español.)

Thursday
Jun132013

A Harper for Harmony looks ahead

I am as devoted as ever to my harp, and especially for the Venezuelan style "arpa llanera." I am trying to look ahead as a harper for harmony. This mission is very personal, to promote harmony and community, locally and globally, through harp music.

I've been sort of "in seclusion" for a couple of years. Maybe this journal will be a place to do some rethinking.

Peace. John