Section: Arts

Flutists and harpists impress in joint “Flarp” concert

Flutists and harpists impress in joint “Flarp” concert

Cora Markowitz

India Amos, Arts Editor

The “Flarp Ensemble” took to the stage in Brandi Recital Hall yesterday evening  when some of Kenyon College’s flutists and harpists joined together to fill the night with angelic music.

“This is technically the Harp Ensemble Concert,” said harpist Jeremy Peck ’14, “but this semester we have two flautists who joined.”

“We jokingly call it the ‘Flarp Ensemble,’” harpist Lily McBride ’17 said with a laugh. “At the beginning of the semester, we weren’t sure if we would have enough harpists who would be able to play in the ensemble, and the same happened with the flute ensemble.” These dedicated student musicians decided they wanted a novel way to be able to perform for the community. Instead of waiting for more people proficient in these instruments to come forward, they took matters into their own hands. “A lot of us are in ‘Music Theory’ together and we all get along really well, so we just said, ‘We should combine the two,’” said McBride.

While the majority of the pieces the Flarp Ensemble performed featured both harps and flutes, there were a handful of pieces handled solely by the harpists. In addition to Peck and McBride, the concert also featured Conor Dugan ’15 and Jenny David ’16, who are both harpists, and Emily Bulik-Sullivan ’15 and Emma Brown ’17, who are flutists. Alexi Kamer, who is a homeschooled student from the Gambier area, also performed with the Ensemble. In addition to playing the harp, Kamer also provided a violin accompaniment on several pieces.

It is not an uncommon occurrence for residents of the local area to participate in with the Harp Ensemble. McBride, who is from Gambier, said she began playing with the Harp Ensemble when she was in middle school. “Pretty much anyone who plays the harp is welcome,” she said. “The first time I played with the Harp Ensemble was in seventh grade. If anyone wants to be in it, they are more than welcome.”

“[Adjunct Instructor of Harp/Piano] Janet Thompson, who is the director, … has a lot of people she teaches from high school and the community,” Peck said. “And a lot of the time we don’t have a lot of harpists, or we don’t have that many harpists here… so we sometimes have as many as three members of the community playing with us.”

The Ensemble performed a wide array of songs that ranged from traditional Celtic and Spanish music to a song from the Disney movie Tangled. “There’s all kinds of stuff,” McBride said. And her comment was no exaggeration. The concert demonstrated range in stylistic choice, as well as in the flutists’ and harpists’ playing ability. Peck also noted the creativity that went into choosing the music for this concert. “I really love harp ensemble because there isn’t really a lot of music arranged for harp ensemble because nobody is really writing, like, ‘for six harps’, so we usually just get music from the piano or something and divide it up and improvise do chords and just make stuff up as we go,” he said. “So it’s a lot of our own creativity. So it’s kind of cool.”

These musicians put in many hours of hard work, according to McBride, but it is not without its perks. “It’s a small group of people, and we’re all pretty close,” she said. “We’re all just so goofy together and it’s kind of a bummer because [rehearsal is] an hour and 40 minutes long, and rehearsals are on Friday. So we go to class all day and then to rehearsals. But we just have so much fun with it. It’s great.”

The Flarp Ensemble gave a performance that allowed the talents of its musicians and their instruments to compliment each other, and together they proved that string and woodwind can coexist in perfect harmony.

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