Tag Archives: 4 girls 4 harps

4 Girls 4 Harps Christmas album of the year?

575928_10152688812635052_1955176419_n4 Girls 4 Harps – a quartet comprising of Harriet Adie, Eleanor Turner, Keziah Thomas and Elizabeth Scorah – are among the contenders to be named Christmas Album of 2013 by David Mellor during his New Releases Show on Saturday.

They’re up against the likes of Incarnation: Christmas Music by Thomas Hewitt Jones, Angels Sing: Christmas in Ireland and Rejoice and Be Merry: Organ Music for Christmas, with the announcement due to be made on December 21st, between 9pm and 10pm.

Speaking about 4 Girls 4 Harps at Christmas, Mellor said: “Pure joy. The ideal accompaniment for having a drink and a mince pie.”

To hear who comes out on top, make sure you tune into Classic FM on December 21st. We’ll be doing so, with glass of sherry and mince pie in hand.

4 Girls 4 Harps at Christmas

575928_10152688812635052_1955176419_nIf you’re looking for a good classical music-inspired Christmas present for friends and family, you might like to think about getting a copy of 4 Girls 4 Harps at Christmas – a brilliant CD just brought out by the quartet, who have really gone from strength to strength this year.

It includes traditional choral anthems cleverly mixed with jazz and folk and won rave reviews from BBC Music Direct, which described it thus:

“This will blow away the cobwebs – sparklingly energetic arrangements for four harps of favourite carols. The 4 Girls … do the arranging themselves, with versatility and imagination. Ensemble is watertight and there’s a real rhythmic elan to the playing which keeps you listening.”

It’s due to be released on December 2nd and you can pre-order your copy from Amazon now.

4 Girls 4 Harps online fundraising auction

575928_10152688812635052_1955176419_nDo you remember earlier this week we blogged about 4 Girls 4 Harps coming down to the Two Moors Festival HQ here in Devon for a residency and to record their 2013 Christmas album?

Well, the CD looks to be a great one with some brilliant pieces – written not only by quartet member Harriet Adie, but also by favourite composers like Faure and Handel – and promises to really make you get into the Christmas spirit as soon as the snow starts to fall.

But the quartet needs a bit of help. As we’re sure you all know, making records ain’t cheap and to help put this one out, the group is holding an online auction of all sorts of harp-related goodies.

Lots are available to suit all kinds of budget, from posters and mugs to concerts by the group in a venue of your choice. A composition by Harriet and an arrangement by fellow quartet member Eleanor Turner are also among the prizes.

The auction is now open for bids and will remain open until June 15th, so you have lots of time to take a look at what you can bid on and what takes your fancy.

We’ve definitely got our eyes on our very own harp piece! What’ll you be bidding on?

4 Girls 4 Harps Two Moors Festival residency

We’ve got a bit of a treat for all you classical music lovers this month – the brilliant quartet 4 Girls 4 Harps is coming down to Barkham, the Two Moors Festival headquarters in the heart of the Devon countryside, to take part in one of our now-famous residencies.

They’ll be down here rehearsing for their upcoming concert schedule and preparing for recording their latest CD, which will be on sale towards the end of the year. What’s more, they’ll also be putting on a brilliant concert on April 26th that’s open to the public, with pieces by the likes of Shostakovich, Faure, Handel and quartet member Harriet Adie  – so make sure you put it in your diaries as it promises to be a fabulous affair.

“We are really looking forward to the chance to completely immerse ourselves in harp quartet music for a week. The opportunity that the 2MF provides us in being able to rehearse intensively with no interruptions and distractions will give us the chance to make this CD sound as amazing as we can possibly make it!” Harriet said.

The CD will be Christmas carols arranged for four harps, with an additional three pieces alongside a soprano.

So – who’s going?

Four Girls Four Harps photoshoot

Four Girls Four Harps is a brilliant harp quartet, made up of Harriet Adie, Keziah Thomas, Eleanor Turner and Elizabeth Scorah, that’s going from strength to strength, playing an enticing programme of their own compositions and well-known and popular pieces.

They’ve just had a rather fantastic photoshoot for their new publicity shots and for the cover for the Christmas album (even though it’s only April!) and the pictures are so beautiful we just had to share a few of them here.

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How gorgeous are these photos? We can’t wait for the Christmas album now! The girls will be touring the UK in December, taking in venues like The River House Barn in Surrey, Asylum Arts in London and SJE Arts in Oxford so make sure you catch them in your area!

New member for 4 Girls 4 Harps!

4 Girls 4 HarpsEnsemble 4 Girls 4 Harps recently held auditions for a new member. Here’s how it all happened, in the words of Harriet Adie.

“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 ten 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 in … so 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 my 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.

“While 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!”For more information about the group, please visit our website.

An interview with: 4 Girls 4 Harps

Harp quartet 4 Girls 4 Harps is playing at the Two Moors Festival’s main two-week event in October and celebrating ten years of playing together in 2012. We catch up with the quartet’s Eleanor Trotter, who tells all about how they first got together, the challenges of travelling with massive instruments and what they plan to play at the festival this year.

Two Moors Festival (2MF): How did you four all come together? Is this still the original quartet?

Eleanor Trotter (ET):The original quartet was actually called the Barkham Harp Quartet after John and Penny Adie’s home, where one year we were all taking part in a harp course with Dutch harpist Erika Waardenburg. We ended the course with a concert and decided to carry on as a quartet, now with a new ‘fourth harp’, AngharadWyn Jones, who has been with us for about six years. The other three are all original members and Harriet and I have been playing in ensembles together since our Royal College of Music Junior Department days!

2MF: How do you all know each other?

ET:Keziah used to do the same music festivals as me when we were kids. She always looked incredibly cool in her short skirts with tights and Doc Marten boots, which would have given MY teacher a heart attack! Later on, Keziah ended up studying with Daphne Boden like Harriet and I, when she was at the Royal College of Music senior department…then she had to follow the same dress code as all of Ms Boden’s students! Angharad wasknown to us as a great harpist with a penchant and talent for jazz. She was an instant hit!

2MF: Are you all quite similar or are there any dominant personalities in the group?

ET:Good question! We’re all very different but basically I’m the bossy annoying one who’ll be doing the pre-concert pep talk, Harriet is hyper-organised and reliable, Keziah is bubbly and easygoing, sometimes quite blunt and very funny, and Angharad is really patriotic about Wales and a real party girl!

2MF:Have you ever had any serious arguments or are you all like sisters?

ET: We’re like sisters in that no matter how little or much we see each other (when Keziah was dividing her time between London and New York for a couple of years we had some quite long spells apart) we always feel like we only saw each other yesterday and of course enjoy a good catch up and a gossip! The only disagreements we ever have are to do with tempo – that usually means i want to go faster in order to show off or if someone hasn’t warmed up: “Did we definitely take that tempo last time? It’s too fast!!”

2MF: Being four blonde, beautiful ladies, what sort of reactions do you get from male fans?

ET:That’s very flattering! All I will say is that one of our fans says that we’re so nice his wife doesn’t mind him having a soft spot for us!

2MF: Ever had any fan mail?

ET: We do get loads of lovely comments and encouragement from young harp students – we inspire them to keep going and they inspire US to keep going and to try new things!

2MF: Harps aren’t exactly small. Is it a bit of a logistical nightmare trying to organise four of them when doing concerts?

ET:Our carbon footprint is not the smallest, sadly. As we come from different places and don’t have a 4G4H tour bus, it’s four different estate cars. We don’t mind the travelling though.

2MF: What’s been the highlight of the last ten years?

ET:A great occasion was playing for BBC radio 2’s Friday Night is Music Night a few years back and we also really enjoyed recording our last CD, Fireworks and Fables, with SanjuSahai the tabla player on one track – it was such a great moment hearing the music coming together in such a satisfying way!

2MF: And the lowest point?

ET:The lowest point would probably be a few ideas we have had that we tried to pull off but simply couldn’t without more funding. However, that’s just life and if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! After all, we’ve been going strong now for well over ten years!

2MF:What’s the weirdest request you’ve had as a quartet?

ET: The weirdest request isn’t that weird considering we’re four harpists… we had to dress all in white at the British Museum to appear as four angels with our harps. Cue several comments about us having our places secured in heaven and people checking their pulses to make sure they hadn’t already arrived!

2MF: What do you think of the festival programme this year? What are you most looking forward to seeing?

ET: I have seen Anna Tillbrook in concert AND had a lesson with her, so I’d definitely go to any of the concerts she’s accompanying in as she’s just amazing and has such a profound understanding of all the music she plays. She’s a real inspiration to me! I would also go to support Keziah Thomas’s solo Bach on the harp but it’s already sold out! I think the whole programme looks really fine quality and I’d also love to hear any of the ancient music on offer as I know that will be mesmerising!

2MF: Have you played at the festival before? What did you perform?

ET: We performed at the festival in 2002. I should remember this as it was only the second Two Moors Festival and I had recently had a little boy – he was just a month old when we performed! Funnily enough, ten years on, I have only recently had my second child – a little girl. Harriet has also had a little baby boy recently and as you can imagine, we’re enjoying jokingly planning their wedding for when they’re older! We also performed in the 2009 festival with Sanju Sahai on tabla. I clearly remember how he effortlessly adapted to playing a Scott Joplin rag with us, as opposed to an Indian raga, for the encore!

2MF: What are you playing this time around?

ET: This time we’re performing our characteristic selection of popular classics (although this year we have a new programme, all of the arrangements being done by myself and Harriet) by Faure, Handel and Manuel de Falla. We’re also very lucky as we’ve been given free rein to try out some new pieces on the audience, including Harriet’s original composition, Elemental.

In my opinion, this wonderful four-movement work showcases the ensemble better than anything we had before and is brilliant music – it feels like string quartet writing as we have so much interaction and so many opportunities to enjoy subtle textures and hugely contrasting dynamics. Harriet is also at her best when writing jaunty cross-rhythms and amazingly vibrant tunes in her favourite time signatures – 7/8 and 5/8! I absolutely love it and this will be our fifth performance of the work.

2MF: How do you go about deciding what you’re going to play?

ET: We always choose repertoire that shows off our ensemble – four harps can create a really powerful sound together so we try to show that off, while including some beautiful classics (such as Faure’s Sicilienne) that hopefully send the listener into a dreamy, harpy world for at least a few minutes. We really love to surprise people though, so it’s always fun performing our jazz medley and the new pieces that show a different, spicy side to the harp that many people haven’t seen.

2MF: Tell us about the two pieces yourself and Harriet have composed especially to mark your 10th birthday.

ET: Harriet’s composition, Elemental, is much more sophisticated than my Rambla, which was written a few years ago actually. Rambla was inspired by a brief holiday in Spain and using some of my favourite effects on the harp – harmonics, xylophonic effect, bisbigliando (meaning ‘whispering’, it’s basically a harp tremolo), pres de la table (also called alla guitarra), which is playing in the very lowest inch or so of the strings so that the harp sounds like a guitar. All great fun!

It’s not a joke piece though, as it tells the dramatic story of how the dry river bed, the Rambla, sometimes floods without warning, scooping up cars and people sometimes as the rains come down from the mountains. It’s the ideal subject for harps – we think we do water rather well! – and I love a drama, so it’s a great subject for me to compose on!

We can’t wait to be at the 11th Two Moors Festival. See you there!

4Girls4Harps will be playing on October 20th at All Saints Church in North Molton, Devon.

Call (01643) 831006 to book tickets.