Harp music blossoms on campus
Although cherry blossom season is usually in springtime, on Sunday, Nov. 1, there will be blossoms at the Faculty of Music during the unveiling of a new Princess Sakura concert harp, recently donated to the faculty by the Aoyama Harp Company of Japan.
Sakura means cherry blossom and the Princess Sakura harp is covered in a beautiful cherry blossom design, detailed in gleaming walnut wood. It is the latest model from Aoyama.
A free concert will celebrate the unveiling as the harp is played by world-renowned faculty harpist Judy Loman.
Loman, perhaps Canada's foremost harpist, will be joined by her former and famous pupil, Mariko Anraku. Anraku is currently associate principal harp of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in New York. This is only the second time they have played together.
"Up until now, I've only listened to her," Loman said, with a laugh.
Arguably, the star of the Aoyama harp celebration performance will be the harp itself. Loman said the lovely instrument is a welcome addition to the faculty's collection.
"We have two very bad harps. They are falling apart. I was aching for a new one for the faculty. So, when Mariko invited me to play in Japan, I thought I would ask Mr. Aoyama if he might be interested in renting the harp to buy," said Loman.
With Anraku acting as a translator, Loman made her pitch, perfectly. In the end, Aoyama decided to donate the $30,000 instrument. (Harps range in price from $25,000 to 70,000 for the more ornate versions.)
"It's a wonderful, wonderful thing," said Loman.
"It has a really lovely sound with a beautiful upper register and a nice ring to it," Loman said, noting that the wood and the shape of the harp makes all the difference. "This one seems to have been made just perfectly."
Attendees at the celebratory performance will enjoy the expressive sounds as the new harp is put through its paces.
"I chose the Haydn for the opening piece because it is one of the happiest pieces I know and I am very happy to get this harp," Loman said. "And, I know I'm pushing it a bit for Christmas, but I wanted to include these Six Noels by Tournier because they just sound lovely on the harp."
The centrepiece of the day will be a special arrangement for two harps that Loman did just for this day, as a gift to Aoyama.
"I did an arrangement of Sakura -- a Japanese folk tune that means cherry blossoms -- for two harps that Mariko and I will play. We are dedicating it to Mr. Aoyama, along with a special gift from the harp department at the celebration ceremony."
Loman, who has been playing the harp since she was five, is a recipient of Canada's Juno Award for best classical recording and the Canada Council's Grand Prix du disque Canadien. She currently supervises two master's and one doctoral student (of the eight harp students) at the faculty and has been teaching at U of T for almost 40 years.
For more information:www.music.utoronto.ca/events/aoyama.