In modern times the harp is no longer the virtuous plucked instrument of the olden days. Contemporary composers know how to make full use of the clear timbre and musical precision of the harp. This broadcast of Theme features some special harp compositions from American composers; many compositions for multiple harps which achieve surprising sounds. Music from early pioneers such as John Cage and Lou Harrison but also a forgotten classic for eight harps by Robert Moran. The main focus is on a momentous work for six harps, ‘Changes’ by James Tenney (pictured), which was released recently.
1. James Tenney: ‘Harmonium no. 3’ (1980), for three harps on Postcard from Heaven. Susan Allen, Ellie Choate and Marilu Donovan (harps). New World Records 80763-2 CD
2. John Cage: ‘In A Landscape’ (1948) for solo harp, on Postcard from Heaven. Susan Allen (harp). New World Records 80763-2 CD
3. John Cage: ‘Postcard from Heaven’ (1982) for four harps, on Postcard from Heaven. Susan Allen, Marilu Donovan, Jillian Risigari-Gai and Jaclyn Urlik (harps). New World Records 80763-2 CD
4-6. Lou Harrison: ‘The Perilous Chapel’(1948), for flute, cello, harp and percussion. Lou Harrison: The Perilous Chapel. San Francisco Contemporary Music Players conducted by Stephen Mosko. New Albion NA055 CD
7-9. Robert Moran: ’Ten Miles High over Albania’ (1983) for eight harps, on Robert Moran: Desert of Roses. Mario Falcao (harps) Argo 436 128-2 CD
10-31. James Tenney: twenty-two Studies from ‘Changes’ (1985) for six harps, James Tenney: Changes: 64 Studies for 6 harps. Harp ensemble conducted by Nicholas Deyoe. New World Records 80810-2