“Classical music is exciting,” Breckenridge Music Festival (BMF) director Marcia Kaufman mused, making a case for the endangered genre—which she lamented is too often misconstrued as stodgy, boring, or elitist. “If you have the ability to step into it, it takes you places,” she said, before touting the upcoming March 21 harp concert with Elizabeth Hainen.
In honor of the concert, which will feature Hainen on harp accompanied by fellow members of The Philadelphia Orchestra on flute, viola, and percussion, then, I tuned in to the artist’s website and listened to short samples of her harp concertos recordings with Rossen Milanov and the Bulgaria National Radio Orchestra. The pieces are from Parish Alvars’ Grande Concerto in G minor, Op. 81, and as I listened to them over and over again I couldn’t help but think that Kaufman might be right—there could be something to classical music after all.
Classical Music Tells a Story
True to BMF spokesperson Olivia Grover-Hill’s word, I wouldn’t describe the harp as simply “ethereal,” for it evoked a much wider set of emotions than, say, angels dressed in white playing harps up in heaven, but rather a range as broad as that of the harp itself—after all, the harp has the largest range of any instrument in an orchestra except the piano.
Here are some of the words fellow listener, local snowboard trainer Gregg Davis, and I came up with to describe the online samples: On the Allegro Moderato we said “passionate, playful, prancing across the ballroom,” followed by the “ambient,” almost “creamy” Romanza Andante, which carried me away “to a dreamlike place,” and then the “majestic, mysterious” Rondo sample, a “powerful,” “dramatic,” wow-eliciting morsel leaving us both wanting for more. “I like classical music because it tells a story,” said Gregg, who intends to accompany me to the concert.
Arrangments for Harp
Billed as “Hainen and Friends,” the March 21 chamber concert will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Finkel auditorium at the new Breckenridge campus of Colorado Mountain College and feature a multicultural fare of music offerings, with compositions by Italian, French, English, and American composers played as solos, duets, and a trio with Hainen on harp. She will be accompanied in the various arrangements by Jeffrey Khaner, TPO principal flute, David DePeters, Hainen’s husband and partner on vibraphone, and Anna Marie Ahn Peterson, who will make her Breckenridge debut on viola. All four are members of The Philadelphia Orchestra, which has a summer residency in Vail with the Bravo Festival. Additionally, Summit Middle School’s string band will play as guests arrive.
Musicians Hainen and DePeters have a long history visiting Breck, both as performers and alpine skiers. DePeters is a PSIA level-III certified ski instructor and Hainen is level-II certified. Although both share a love for orchestral music, it was while DePeters was instructing at Whitetail Resort in Pennsylvania that they met and bonded over what for Hainen was a newfound love for two-planking. The duo returns to the High Country year after year in pursuit of both.
“The last time I saw her perform, musically and visually, she was extremely captivating,” Grover-Hill said of Hainen. “The way she could make her way around the harp is quite unique.” And, ethereal preconceptions aside, you have to admit she does look a bit like an angel.
Expounding further on the joys of classical music, Grover-Hill added: “There’s a different level of experience when you actually sit in a concert. It’s the idea of sound all around you, the reverberation that you can feel in your body. It becomes a physical experience. It’s like going to a rock concert—you want to sit up front.”
The concert takes place at 7:30 p.m. on March 21 in the Finkel Auditorium at Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge. Tickets are $20 in advance and can be purchased via phone at (970) 453-9142 or online at www.breckenridgemusicfestival.com, with $25 tickets available at the door. All proceeds benefit music programs in Summit School District.