Present: Keri Kammerman, Kristin Rogers-Iverson, Kris Watts, Angela Scothern, Kate Dougherty, Tamara Oswald, Kinsey McNevin, Pam Archbold, Tristan Adair, Peggy Cann, Heidi Jaeger
I.Tamara Oswald presented on Harp Care and Maintenance
Some background on Tamara. Tamara has been playing harp for more years than she appears old enough to have accomplished. She began studying harp at the age of 7 after a year of piano studies. At the age of 13 Tamara soloed with the Utah symphony and again at age 14 and 16-once on piano. She received her degree in harp performance at the University of Southern California under the direction of Susann McDonald. Most of us are aware that Tamara is the principal harpist for the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square and tours all over the world with this group. She is also a member of the Oswald-Goeckeritz duo with Jeannine Goeckeritz (see www.harpandflute.com). Together, they have played all over the US and in Europe and have recorded a CD.called Chanson. Tamara met her husband Dan in Zurich when her parents were called to oversee the missionary work in Switzerland for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Her husband Daniel is the honorary consul of Switzerland to Utah. They are the proud parents of 6 children and 15 grandchildren. Tamara was certified by the Clinical Musician Certification Program/Harp for Healing (CMCP) in 2017 and has been employed by Brighton/Bristol Hospice since then. Please visit her website www.harpandflute.com for more information.
In doing an online search for information on Tamara I also found the following review of her work:
“The flowing style and graceful virtuosity of Tamara Oswald has been enjoyed by audiences across the world. She has performed with the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra under the direction of such renowned musicians as Christoph Eschenbach and M. Rstropovich, and as a soloist with the Tuttlingen Jugend Orchestra in Germany. Nationally, she has performed with the Pasadena, Long Beach and the Honolulu Symphonies, and as a soloist with the Santa Monica Symphony, the University of Southern California, University of Utah, the Orchestra at Temple Square, Utah Chamber Artists and the Utah Symphony. She has been the recipient of esteemed musical awards from the American Harp Society and has competed as a semi-finalist at both the Israeli and Rome International Harp competitions.
Oswald was principal harp for Ballet West for 20 years. She continues to perform regularly with the Utah Chamber Artists, now in their 29th year, and has also been affiliated with the Utah Symphony, Utah Opera, Utah Chamber Festival, Salt Lake Choral Artists, and the Park City Music Festival. She has had the opportunity to perform with such luminaries as Julius Baker, Roberta Peters, Robert Shaw, Dale Warland, Jubilant Sykes, and Ida Haendel.” http://www.harpandflute.com/about-us/tamara-oswald/
Peggy was kind enough to send us the link to listen to Tamara accompany Sissel recently with the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFe84U__kt8
Tamara prepared a handout for us all which we referred to during her discussion. I will not copy the handout but will include some things mentioned that I found new information or a good reminder:
Harp History from ancient to modern times. While harps are an ancient instrument probably developed based on the bow and arrow, the modern use of the harp as a solo instrument did not develop until the 1600s. There was no way to adjust for sharps or flats until the 16 century when hooks were added to create C# and F#. In the earliest days, the harp was used to accompany songs, in groups with other instruments and voice. There wasn’t solo music for the harp until the 1600s. Pedals were not developed until the 18th century.
The modern Troubador Harp was invented by Samual Pratt of Utah in 1960. From both marriages of Sam and resulting children the Pratt family have been influential in the modern lever harp movement., Carl Pratt (801) 377-7082, Sam’s son, is an excellent local harp builder and technician if your harp needs some work.
Pedal harp strings should be reserved for pedal harps and not put on a lever harp except for the Lyon and Healey lever harps. They require too much tension and may break the harp. When ordering replacement strings, you must specify the Harp maker, string composition (gut, nylon, wire, fluorocarbon), octave and note. 1st octave starts at the top and works down. (On a Troubador Harp, that would be E to F). Be consistent with whatever the harp maker recommends. A source for string sets is D. Kolacny in Colorado (303) 722-6081. Replace broken strings as quickly as possible as too much pressure resulting from the broken string will cause the neighbor strings to also break.
Dust covers are not required except for moving harps. Keep it exposed,, dust as needed and play it daily. If storage is required of the harp, the strings may be lowered a tone or so but don’t relax them completely. Avoid knocking over the harp.
Cleaning: A slightly damp cloth with a little mild soap will do (no detergents). Clean a small area at a time and dry it. Avoid using too much water as it could get into the glued joints. Black scuff marks can be removed with a little benzene. If desired, a commercial polish designed specifically for harps may be used. Polish is not really necessary though.
Tuning: Tamara demonstrated how she tunes her pedal harp for playing in an orchestra starting with A. checking it with the 4th note below (E) then the 5th below (D) then the 4th string above A (D) and then the Octave (A to A) repeating this for every note even when an electronic tuner is used. When playing with the orchestra, Tamara tunes to 441 a bit higher as the stringed instruments tend to sharpen as they are played. Woodwinds tend to flatten. Tamara recommends tuning in Natural (C maj) although many orchestral harpists tune in the flat position of the harp.
Replacing Strings: Tamara provided a diagram for knotting harp strings and discussed situations where harp strings had broken in the middle of her performances and how she dealt with that. Also how to look for potential breaking points and changing weak looking strings before they break. Good idea to date string packets when they are used in case of breakage right away. Most string companies will replace the string if it breaks within the first week of use.
Dealing with pain: resting an 80 lb. harp on your shoulder in an unnatural position, moving harps, loading harps into cars is likely going to result in pain as we age. Tamara recommends practicing harp in the right size chair for your body and the harp and using a chair with a good back on it, not a bench, at least for practice. Only play for 45 minutes at a time and then take a break,, stretch before and after playing. Tamara uses a pain relief cream product called Real Time Pain Relief. There is Physical Therapy specifically designed for harpists as well as ergonomic training to preserve the body.
II. We each presented and played some of our favorite holiday music.
Kris Watts played for us and shared sheet music she has orchestrated for Silent Night. Pam and Heidi played a duet of Pachabel’s Canon mashup with The First Noel, Kristen played a piece she had composed for the upcoming funeral of a dear friend that was contemplative and beautiful. She was looking for feedback from the group which was provided. Tristan improvised and sang Away In the Manger, Tamara played a version of In the Bleak Midwinter from Sunita Stanislow’s Christmas Eve book, Kinsey played Infant Holy, Peggy helped Heidi play Jingle Bells using only a bass pattern and singing the song to help her work on harp accompaniment for song. Thankfully the group sang while Peggy pointed to the chords.
We closed the meeting and shared a light lunch potluck (always great food!) and casual conversation.
We agreed to not meet in December but have a casual harp circle at Pam Archbolds house on a Saturday morning for those who can make it. Next meeting will be in January.