|Emily Granger in the Greenaway Studio|
Emily Granger, harp
Greenaway Studio, Chapman
Sunday 14 August
Reviewed by Len Power
There’s something about harp music that is instantly transporting. The instrument has always added a beautiful sound to classical music works but it’s a different and delightful experience to hear a solo harp played in an intimate setting.
At the Greenaway Studio, a full house was treated to a sublime afternoon of contemporary works for the harp played by the consummate artist, Emily Granger.
American-born and now Australian-based Granger has had a busy international career. Dedicated to expanding the repertoire for the harp, her concert, “In Transit”, featured contemporary harp music from Australia and the USA, reflecting her own multiple journeys from one continent to the other as she made the decision to reside in this country.
There were works by Australian composers including Ross Edwards, Tristan Coelho and Sally Greenaway as well as pieces by USA composers Libby Larsen, Laura Zaerr, Deborah Henson-Conant and others.
With themes of travel and isolation, serenity and solitude, the music painted colourful pictures that engaged the imagination. Each work was given interesting introductions by Granger. She won the audience over completely with her relaxed, warm and friendly manner.
It was a well-chosen program of works and choosing highlights afterwards was almost impossible. Everyone would have had their own personal favourites.
For this reviewer it was “The Nightingale” by Deborah Henson-Conant. Granger explained that this was one of the first pieces she heard as a young harpist, inspiring her to continue her studies. For listeners, its haunting, delicate and melodic qualities were magical. Amazingly, a ray of sunshine spot lit Granger through the window of the studio just as she was playing it.
Night Emily Granger Music!
Other works that particularly impressed were Australians Tristan Coelho’s atmospheric “The Old School” and Sally Greenaway’s “Liena”. From the USA, Libby Larsen’s, “Theme and Deviations” and “River Right Rhumba” by Laura Zaerr were also memorable.
Watching Granger playing the harp in close-up in this intimate studio was an enthralling experience in itself. Being able to see her elegant finger technique on the strings clearly and her use of the foot pedals on the harp was fascinating.
A number of young children were seated on cushions on the floor directly in front of the performer. You could see that they were enthralled by the experience and their attention was held throughout the concert. Maybe Emily Granger inspired some harpists of the future as a result of this experience.
Photo and video by Len Power
Photo and video by Len Power
This review was first published in the Canberra CityNews digital edition of 15 August 2022.
Len Power's reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 in the ‘Arts Cafe’ and ‘Arts About’ programs and published in his blog 'Just Power Writing' at https://justpowerwriting.blogspot.com/.