The Harpist from Dublin. Rosanna Moore meets Symphony NH.

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The Harpist from Dublin. Meet Rosanna Moore.

A 21st Century Approach to Classical Music.

Fifth in a multi-part series.

 

The Harpist from Dublin. Rosanna Moore meets Symphony NH.

Harpist Rosanna Moore came to Nashua, New Hampshire with her electric harp and a performance piece written especially for her. She arrived from Dublin Ireland not Dublin New Hampshire. That distance is small when we talk about music and the two Dublin’s. And this harpist is here to perform with Symphony NH at the Keefe Auditorium.

Dublin Harpist Rosanna Moore in photo by Keith Spiro
Dublin Harpist Rosanna Moore in rehearsal with Symphony NH. Photo | Keith Spiro

April 20, 2024 at 7:30pm, in its most ambitious concert yet, Symphony New Hampshire (SNH) premieres two unique pieces commissioned specifically by them. SNH not only looks to be the orchestral voice of the Granite State, but they also have shown a keen interest in melding old and new.

 

They have consistently created opportunities for young and experienced professionals in performance music to learn from each other and present concerts this year that showcase what is possible. Young performing artists and composers are changing and being changed by a 21st Century forward looking orchestra.

 

Previous articles covered the New Hampshire Concerto. Amplifying the nature of the collaborative commission with college composers from Dartmouth college, Keene State, Plymouth State and the University of NH.

 

This installment focuses on the second premiere today. Extraordinary Motion: concerto for Electric Harp will be performed by Rosanna Moore and backed by the symphony. Extraordinary Motion was written by composer D. J. Sparr with poet and co-creator Janine Joseph. specifically for Ms. Moore, Harpist and professor of music in Dublin, Ireland.

 

Harpist: Dublin Ireland not Dublin New Hampshire

 

New Hampshire has a long standing traditional folk music scene. Contra dances and Irish sessions have been here for longer than I can remember. Where else but New Hampshire do I have to specify that the harpist from Dublin came from Dublin Ireland not our local Dublin an hour’s short distance to the West of us.

 

Both are places of fierce tradition flourishing together with amazing change. Yet, the dance and song traditions found across New Hampshire are as vibrant today as they were more than eighty years ago.

 

Behind the scenes at the rehearsal of Extraordinary Motion Concerto.

A cross between electric guitar and acoustic harp

Maestro Roger Kalia calls the electric harp “a cross between electric guitar and acoustic harp.”

This piece is different and exciting. It has poetry spoken by the harpist, playing a composition written explicitly for her. There’s an “other worldly-ness” to the piece. And D.J. Sparr emulates the sound of birds in flight through harp and orchestra.

I also heard the cascading sound of harp, then orchestra. An electric keyboard then echoed the harp as the string section grew more dominant in tone.

The rehearsal itself was a unique collaboration in real time.  On the fly changes with input from the various musicians as they made ready, the piece for performance.

image of composer DJ Sparr at work on a computer in a photo by Keith Spiro
Composer D.J. Sparr using his computer to edit the notations as the orchestra rehearses. Photo | Keith Spiro

D.J. Sparr, with the orchestra’s musicians, Harpist Rosanna Moore and Maestro Kalia transformed the piece from what was just composition on screen and computer to the real world of wood and metal instruments. We listened as the session evolved rapidly In the hands of incredible musicians.

In our 21st century electronics driven world, we witnessed, once again, what happens when a digitally conceived piece is then performed by musicians with instruments. The contrast to what a composer hears delivered by a MIDI (musical instrument digital interface) is clear in the comments overheard.

 

There is this one section beginning at 248 where much discussion takes place.

The question concerns the octave.  Should the piece be played one higher than the first run through? Yes! says Sparr, as he marks up his digital pad with the change. Musicians do likewise. He is not making major changes but rather he is responding to insights he is getting as he hears the full orchestra playing his composition.

How does the composer explain what he wants?

twinkling harp and insanity – D.J. Sparr

He used very technical terms that were instantly understood:

He asked for “twinkling harp and insanity”

D.J. Sparr calls for ““Twinkling harp & insanity” by which he meant to address something counter intuitive to initial expectations of the orchestra. They needed, at that one particular point in the music, to play very loud.

An image that is all smiles of composer DJ Sparr. Photo by Keith Spiro
D.J. Sparr is all smiles as the change is appreciated. Photo | Keith Spiro

It worked. Even I could hear the difference when he asked the maestro to vary the volume of selected instruments. Playing to the acoustics of the concert hall, this makes for perfection.

 

Professor Rosanna Moore sounded like the four students from the New Hampshire concerto rehearsal when she talked about Orchestral vs. MIDI sound.  She swiftly adjusted her part to match the needs of the orchestra. They too were confronted with differences that have become familiar this year.

Symphony Masala, Sandeep Daz, Danny Rivera, Penelope all represent this 21st century melding of more traditional expectations of Symphonic sound with vibrant new approaches and combinations.

Moore commented on the amazing and different experience working with an orchestra and getting real time feedback on this unique offering.

New World Offerings

 

Beyond the two premieres, the performance will appropriately close with “From the New World.” Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in E Minor one of the most popular and well known symphonic works.

Symphony New Hampshire notes that Dvořák was himself “inspired by the spirit of African-American spirituals and Native American music that he heard during his travels in America. The work is a fitting tribute, to New Hampshire, to the spirit of the people who have come before, and to those that will come after us.”

Symphony NH in rehearsal photo by Keith Spiro
Symphony NH in rehearsal April 19, 2024 the evening before the performance of New World and two NH premieres. Photo | Keith Spiro

Bravo.

Read the 4 earlier installments of this multi-part series of A 21st Century approach to Classical Music

Jude Morris New Voice Classic Performance

Grace Chen – The One from Dartmouth College

The lads of UNH  Wesley Coffin, Kyle Cook and Michael Crowley

The Team from Keene

 

Keith Spiro Communicast. Good people doing great things
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About this Author

Keith Spiro

Advisor & ContributorInk Link News, Arts & Culture

Business Strategist, Community Builder with a keen interest in working with high-impact startups and other organizations that can make a difference in community and health.