Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Find out more about our new member Elizabeth Scorah!

Hi Lizzy – welcome to the group. We’re really excited about working with you and thought it would be nice to let people know a bit more about you! So....

What made you take up the harp and how old were you when you started?

When I was five, I got into my head that I wanted to play the harp.  A bit of a shock for my unmusical family, as it came out of no where.  My Mum tried to fob me off with the recorder, but I stuck with the idea and a year later she had tracked down a Google search then, so she hunted through the yellow pages in the library, found Holywell and it went from there.

Did you always want to play professionally?

It was one of my hobbies as a child, but I also enjoyed doing lots of other things too.  When I was younger it didn’t ever occur to me I could ever make a living as a harpist, until I realised that I wanted to play in a Symphony orchestra, more than anything.  From then on I was sold.  I did come home at 16 and announce to my parents I was giving up to become an air hostess.  That idea didn’t last long.....

How many harps do you have and why did you choose them?

I have two Lyon and Healy style 23s; one thats about 6 years old that I got from new, and one from 1962 that belonged to Karen Vaughan before.  This one I borrowed for my final recital at the Academy and fell in love with it.  The new one, I bough for myself while I was doing my first degree.  I had played on L&Hs during lessons and decided that I should get myself one, so off I went to save up.

Which harpist has most inspired you over the years?

Not one person in particular actually, its definitely my teachers at RAM, all of them in different ways.  Some through performances I have seen, some through the guidance they have given me.  During my time at RAM the whole harp thing clicked and I though, yes this is what I want.  It wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t inspired.

What do you love most about the harp?

Everything!  I have the best job in the world.  I never sit down and don’t fall in love with it all over again.  Its not one thing, its the package and the wonder of where I might end up in the future with my harp.

What is the strangest performance/place you have ever played in?

The Academy sent me away to Bosnia for some outreach work about seven years ago when I was a student.  I though touring was going to be glam.  Not quite the case, but we did have a fun time!

Do you have a favourite piece of harp music?

Ravel Introduction and Allegro.  I love to play it, and I love to hear it played.

What made you decide to audition for 4G4H?

I love harp ensemble.  After six years in the RAM harp ensemble, I ran out of degrees I could do other than a PHD, so I had to leave!
Also I knew two of the members and have loved playing along side them in other situations.  I knew it was this particular team I wanted to be a part of, thats why I auditioned.

What are you most looking forward to about playing with the group?

The cake breaks.
And preparing my part on my own, then the sound when we all fit together.  Its also great for me to work toward- three other harpists puts that little edge on it that makes me want to push myself and not let the team down. 
Also, having some people who understand where I am at and how I feel.  It can be lonely always working on your own.

What do you do to relax/entertain yourself away from the harp?

I bake a different cake every week for James.  One day he will be fat!
I love to travel, walk in Epping Forest, cook, and secretly I’m longing for an allotment.

What is on your Ipod at the moment?

I don’t have one!  I’m not a technical person, I put a cd in the machine and sit and listen to it rather than on the go.

Describe yourself in 5 words

Optimistic, happy, hopeful. I will decide the other two in the future.

What really gets your goat?

Excuses.  Just get on and do it, no one else will do it for you.
And people that get to the tube barrier and then decide to hunt for their ticket.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

What goes on in an audition?

We can't speak for all types of auditions, but following a few requests, we thought it might be interesting for our readers and fans to see what goes on in a 4 Girls 4 Harps audition!

Whenever we have previously needed to find a new member - as we have been playing together for well over 10 years it is inevitable that people will come and go - we have approached harpists directly about the job. This time however, we decided that we would hold open auditions to see who was out there and who might be interested in playing with us. After posting the audition details on facebook and emailing every harpist we could think of, the enquiries started flooding much so that we needed to do two days of auditions just to fit everyone in! We decided to do the auditions in the form of a rehearsal with the group - this way we could see how well someone might fit in as well as how well they played the harp. In a small ensemble, it is just as important that everyone gets on well together as it is that they are great players, as any tensions in the group will be carried across in the music.

The first day of the auditions - a grey day in January - dawned and we were looking forward to meeting all the harpists and playing with them. We had sent everyone the same three pieces from our 2013 programme - an arrangement of de Falla's Spanish Dance by Eleanor and two movements from Harriet's new piece Elemental. These pieces (we hoped) would demonstrate everything from technique and showmanship to ensemble skills (passing running sevens between harps trying to sound like one instrument is no easy task!) and musicality.

From the first harpist through the door it was obvious that we were going to have our work cut out for us in making a decision as the standard of playing was extremely high. We found it a challenge to keep fresh for each person as we were playing the same pieces all day long - we wanted to be as fair as possible and be open to new ideas and approaches to the music. At the end of day one we felt upbeat, and with one really strong contender in the mix we were optimistic that we would have a great end result. Day two began, again with a very high standard of playing, and we managed to find even more to say about the music (we're still not really sure how this was possible having already played the pieces so many times!). We managed to find time for a chat at the end with each of the harpists which was great as we got to know some lovely talented people as a result and the chats sparked all sorts of ideas for harping outside of the quartet too.

Decision time. We tried to avoid thinking too hard about any of the auditionees until the last one had departed as we didn't want to prejudice our reaction to anyone, and we wanted to be as fair as possible. However, once we started to discuss each of the players, it became apparent that one person had stood out for us all. She was both meticulously prepared on the music and also a very strong confident performer, she had played really musically and even better, was a really fun, bubbly person who we all felt we would get on with outside the rehearsals. Whilst we were sad that we had to let the other harpists know that they hadn't got the job (none of us has ever been on the other side of this line before!), we were really excited to let Elizabeth Scorah know that we would like her to join the group. We are now looking forward to the next few months getting to know Elizabeth and also to work on our Christmas CD recording with her in a few weeks time!

Welcome to Elizabeth Scorah!

We are delighted to welcome Elizabeth Scorah as the newest member of 4 Girls 4 Harps! Following a demanding two days of auditions, Elizabeth stood out as the strongest player and is also such a lovely person! We are really looking forward to working with her and getting to know her better over the coming months, with our first concert together on 14 April at the Forge in London. Before that though, she is going to be very busy getting to grips with some seasonal repertoire as we record our first Christmas CD in just a few week's time!