It was a grey but warm day in August when Holywell Music hosted a masterclass by the Argentinian prizewinning harpist Maria Luisa Rayan-Forero, whose name is familiar from her publications for Lyon & Healy. Eleven participants gathered with parents, teachers and friends of the harp.
The morning was devoted to school-age harpists. Eloise Oliver started with “Waiting” by Ortiz, then Jay Boender introduced us to David Watkins’ new piece “A Welsh Landscape”. Bou Man Lau played the allegro from Dussek’s Sonatina no.2 and Ines Arresteilles, here on holiday from France, Debussy’s First Arabesque in its original piano key, E major. Elizabeth Bass had added to Piazzola’s “Invierno Porteno” in true improvisational style.Luisa guided them in this repertoire with great charm, sensitivity and energy and it was an inspiration to hear her demonstrate the Piazzola piece. She has transcribed this herself from his quintet for violin, electric guitar, double bass, piano and bandoneon (his own extraordinary instrument).
After lunch, kindly provided, it was the turn of the conservatoire students to play. Caroline Hall (GSMD) played “Au Matin” by Tournier and Aileen Henry (TCM) “La Source” by Hasselmans. Heather Wrighton and Rebecca Royce (RAM) brought Andrès “Elégie pour la mort d’un Berger” and Debussy’s Danse Sacrée. Elizabeth McNulty and Tamara Young (TCM) had prepared virtuoso pieces by Renié, “Légende” and Grandjany, “Rhapsodie”. Here again Luisa encouraged a warm sound, varied palette of colours and musical freedom within respect for the rhythm. She gave advice on production of clear harmonics, figure-of-eight glissandi and theatrical gesture when appropriate.
Thank you to Holywell for a thoroughly enjoyable and instructive day during which teachers, pupils and parents had the opportunity to mix and learn from each other. Luisa’s expertise as a teacher for all ages and abilities inspired us all.
Karen Vaughan – Head of Harp – Royal Academy of Music