Strings and Pegs: Where Harp Meets Guitar

Opus Osm

The strings of the harp meet those of the guitar in concert this Sunday.

How Crowded Music Academy Practice Rooms Led to New Duo

“We met about three years ago, in the corridor at HAMU (the Academy of Music),” harp student Hana Hrachovinová tells Opus Osm. “There were no empty practice rooms so I was sitting in front of the harp room door, playing Bach’s Suite in E Minor. And Lucka (guitarist Lucie Št’avíková) went by — the guitar room is just next door — and then she asked me whether I would like to play with her. And so we did.”

Since then, the two young student musicians have played often together in chamber concerts or as singles or duos providing background music. (No, it’s not only the stereotypical sole pianist or lone folk guitarist who provides the music at weddings, dinners, retirement homes and castles, and even a funeral.)

In addition, Ms Št’avíková can sometimes be heard at the well-known Růžová Čajovna (Pink Tea Room), and Ms Hrachovinová has often been a guest of the South Bohemia Chamber Philharmonic, České Budějovice and other ensembles.

The duo will appear together at ArtSpace Řetězová 7 this Sun, Feb 3 at 5 pm.

What to Play?
Admittedly, the guitar-harp combo is rather uncommon, and little music has been written for it. “But we find that even more interesting!” Ms Hrachovinová exclaims. Most of their repertoire consists of adaptations from two guitars, or guitar and flute, she says. The softly strummed strings of the harp and guitar also yield well to the treasures of “guitar literature” such as anonymous Renaissance songs, and compositions by John Dowland, John Johnson, Antonio Soler, and Fernando Carulli, as well as popular pieces by Handel and Beethoven.

As for later composers, the harp player says, “My favorite composer in general is Antonín Dvořák. Unfortunately, he wrote almost nothing for harp.” She prefers modern music because she feels “more free,” she explains. “From my point of view, modern music is based more on atmosphere and expression, rather than on form and technique.” But, she allows, the duo’s “rather ancient repertoire makes a good balance to my contemporary music affection.”

Atmosphere and expression is also a focal point for guitar player Št’avíková. She says she enjoys the challenge of developing musicality in short pieces such as the Renaissance songs. “Playing a short piece may seem easy to someone, but to be able to play it well in any setting or ambiance you get into, and with a strong musical expression that affects the audience, is actually very difficult,” she says.

The classmates would like to play more chamber concerts, but for now their studies and their other performance commitments keep them busy enough. But for any duo that can perform well as students meeting in a corridor, the future surely holds success in the large concert hall as well. — oo

– Mary Matz


Photo Credits: Miroslav Setnička

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