Thursday, 18 April 2013

The show must go on

Musicians are some of the most dedicated people I know. One of the 'perks' of being self employed (as most musicians are) is that you can choose to work when it suits you. The reality is that musicians will take almost any work that comes in and nothing, bar World War III, will stop them fulfilling their working contracts. This invariably means working through sickness, holidays, intimate family events and even personal tragedies. I'm not necessarily saying that this is something to aspire to - afterall, everyone needs to have a work/life balance - but the saying 'the show must go on' really does apply to the performing arts.

Performers have had it ingrained in them from a very young age that their obligation to the audience is their greatest priority and that at all costs they must avoid dispelling the myth and magic of the evening by letting their audience down. For a dancer that might mean dancing on bleeding toes, for a musician it might mean struggling through horrendous flu in order to get up on stage and perform, all the while, a big smile plastered on their face masking their inner misery. As evidenced by the recent death of emminent conductor Sir Colin Davis, who was still seen on the podium aged 85, there is no retirement age for a musician. Plácido Domingo is still accepting operatic roles in his seventies and the great harpist Marisa Robles is still adjudicating and giving masterclasses at nearly 80!

Looking back over the years at 4 Girls 4 Harps' concert appearances, we have certainly applied this to our work ethic: both Harriet and Eleanor were performing with the group shortly after the birth of their children. In fact, Eleanor was so dedicated to fulfilling her concert engagements that she was playing in concert with us just over two weeks after the birth of her daughter (by cesarean section!). Before her son was 8 weeks old, Harriet had written and arranged several pieces for the group to perform that season and she had only finished writting her most recent composition - Elemental - a week before her son's due date!

For two years, Keziah commuted from New York to the UK in order to perform with the quartet - her plane fares cost more than the concert fees! We have battled through blizzards and gale force winds to perform - the audience of the five people who had managed to get to the concert were very appreciative of the special effort we had made on their behalf. Elizabeth has worked on every birthday for as long as she can remember and she is not letting her imminent wedding get in the way of performing with the group.

We do, of course, all have personal lives and friends and family who we very much enjoy spending time with, but our commitment to performing with the quartet, and also all our other harp related work, is a huge part of our lives, and we want to do the best we can to give our audiences the concerts they deserve. At the end of the day, playing the harp (or indeed any other instrument) is not just for Christmas (although we certainly look forward to the abundence of seasonal work....), it is a lifestyle commitment, and one we hope to still be doing when we are in our twilight years.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Romance, roses and ridiculously cold weather!

We had the most amazing day last week posing for the very talented photographer Shaneen Rosewarne Cox for our new publicity shots and Christmas album cover!

We were honoured to be wearing beautiful evening dresses for the shoot which were designed by internationally renowned fashion designer Johanna Hehir. Our hair was styled by the amazing Sarah of Sarah's Doowopdos and make up done by fab make up artist Christina Chrysanthou. We were very lucky to have the use of Shaneen's blogging partner Hayley's house to get ready in and had the bonus of an impromtu lesson from her in social media networking!

The day of the shoot was not what we had initially had in mind for the start of spring: arctic temperatures, snow and gale force winds do not mix well with notoriously unstable harps. However, we were excited by the possibilities this would afford us for the Christmas album cover so all was not lost.

We took the first series of photos outside in our beautiful chiffon dresses:
We think it is safe to say that we have never been so cold in our lives! We stuck at it for as long as we could but once Keziah was so cold she was unable to open her mouth to speak we thought it was a sign to head indoors to thaw out and set up some more shots with the harps.

We were using the village hall for our indoor shots and had a lot of fun coming up with some creative poses using the harps. We have always found it a challenge in the past to get a photo which includes all four harps and 4 girls in a way that is interesting to look at (four harps take up a lot of photo space!), so we were very pleased with the end result:

It was lovely and relaxing lying on the floor for these photos after having been so cold outside earlier in the day.

We then changed outfits for some atmospheric shots wearing dark blue romantic dresses standing behind some beautifully flickering silver candles. We ended the day with a final outfit change into shorter more informal dresses in wonderfully contrasting colours. We had so much fun we were even happy to brave the outdoors for one final shot: