Album Release

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Five Senses of a Second-String Harpist


Sometimes I wish my passion was math or house construction. Take math: it's straight forward and intellectually stimulating. I would work comfortably inside an office and could shut off the computer on Friday to forget about "work" until Monday. Or construction: I would work outside in the morning, have a delicious lunch prepared by my wife at noon, take a 20 minute nap, then work outside in the fresh air until 5PM when I would then forget about "work" until the next morning. It's physically stimulating, and there is complete closure with the finished product. I would spend rainy days in my pajamas. 

But no. Harp is never over. There's no real finished product, and there seems to be thousands of variables that affect a performance. It is, however, intellectually and physically stimulating.

I think about this sometimes on my way to gigs. Just getting the gig and getting to the gig is 90% of the battle. I usually arrive pooped, thirsty, and feeling under-practiced. In my mind I calculate my hourly wage and take into account practice time, travel time, rehearsal time, performance time, the price of the gut string that broke, and the foisted speeding ticket. Why the heck? 

At this point, I see all past gigs flash before my eyes. I'm thankful to have had the opportunity to make music with different people in different places. The most exhilarating and memorable performances are those in which I was the replacement harpist for the really good harpist that was sick or on vacation. I squeaked into their spot because I was the kid in the right place at the right time. It's not math or concrete, but I'm thankful to be me. 

So all of this was on my mind Sunday on my way Monaco. I was hurrying along to play for a Grand Prix post party (playing as the 4th harpist in a group called Harpissimo). I took this picture at the top of Monaco 2 minutes before the start of the race. I had never been to a car race (what do you call them?), so by the time I got to the center of the city, I was in shock by the actual SOUND of the thing. If I hadn't known what it was, it would have scared the living begeebees out of me. I didn't see the cars, only heard them. Wow! Loud. Ghostly. 

I got to thinking: this is the loudest gig I've ever played. One thing led to another, and here are the other top 4 Sensory Memories in the Gig Life of Megan:

Smell:
L'├ęglise de la Madeleine, Paris. 
Replacing the harpist in a small orchestra for the production of the oratorio: "Marie de Magdala" by Michel Garnier.
This cathedral is amazing to be in and to make music in, but the incense. The incense. 

Taste:
4th of July in Zilker Park, Austin, Texas
Replacing the harpist with the Austin Symphony in their outdoor spectacle. 10,000 people! Fireworks and patriotism.
You could taste the hot. 

Touch:
Playing with the 60's group "Cowsills" for a show in Los Angeles. 
My only role was to play really loud glissandos for one song... to the point of ginormous blood blisters on various fingers and the subsequent popping of the ginormous blood blisters during the show. I can still feel those glissandos. 

Sight: 
Beverly Hills, but I forget the function. I was playing for the cocktail party and there was a band going on after dinner. After I played, I came across this band in the musician hang-out area. They were so nice!
I found out later they were the Beach Boys. Doah!

Et voila.

I'd like to thank Eloise for this blog post- who took an unprecedented 4 hour nap today! 

View of Monaco from the car minutes before the Grand Prix.

 

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