Play with the Dream Team
“After many years of teaching and organizing lots of concerts only for my pupils and students,” Mrs Jouzová tells Opus Osm, “I decided finally to try to fulfill my long-time dream to start a group meeting and concert for young harp players from all across the Czech Republic.
“It isn’t a competition or evaluation, but a voluntary event for pleasure, for whoever has time to come and play what they know.”
The first-ever “Prah-A-Harp” exposition is not only for youth in music schools – students in state and private schools, future professionals in the music conservatories, high schools, and academies — but for amateur adults as well. Players can perform solo pieces and chamber works in several types of musical styles, on various types of harps: small or concert, pedal or hooked, classic or folk harps.
But the doors to harp music will be opened to the general public, too, with an Opening Concert Friday at 6 pm, another concert Saturday afternoon at 3, and the Final Concert Sunday at 3.
Mrs Jouzová continues, “From my own experience I know that beginners and intermediate students resist playing, and studying, contemporary music. So to show them another music style in an amusing way, last year I asked my brother, Michal Müller, to write a contemporary suite about animals. And so the composition Excursion to the Zoo was created,” which, she reports, has been happily received, and will be performed along with Mr Müller’s newly-commissioned Circus composition, during the weekend concerts.
Mrs Jouzová has another dream, too: “I would like to approach a contemporary composer each year, to ask him or her to create a composition for a harp choir, for hook and pedal harps.”
Not Enough Harps Here
Mrs Jouzová is a graduate of the Prague and Kiev music conservatories, has toured internationally, and is a solo harp player with the Prague Symphony Orchestra (FOK). She also teaches harp privately and at a music gymnazium. And she can’t help but see something that isn’t there: enough harps.
“The lack of harps for beginners and students in the Czech Republic is a basic problem,” she says. “We don’t have access to harp rentals, nor domestic producers of the instrument — except for the master repairer, R. Chvojka. We have to search for quality and affordable access to instruments from foreign firms,” which also implies inconvenience and extra cost.
She adds, “The harp is a beautiful and majestic instrument, which more young as well as adult students are interested in learning to play. Nonetheless, these days the high quality instruction at the high schools and the music academies, middle and high schools, doesn’t guarantee that students will find well-paying positions as professional harpists.”
Yet, every year around the world, many national and international contests and festivals continue, for classical, folk, jazz, Latin-American and other harps; and a World Harp Congress is held every three years. “Not every harp player in the Czech Republic has the opportunity or time to take part in world-wide activities, and that’s why I decided to organize at least a national festival in Prague,” she says.
She confesses, “So I’m very curious to see the premiere of Circus and how it will work with everyone playing it together.” You can find out for yourself, at Prah-A-Harp.
All events including the concerts of Prah-A-Harp Apr 12-14 take place at the city Music High School, Komenského Náměstí 9, Prague 3. Admission to the concerts is by donation. — oo
– Mary Matz
Photo Credits: Top: Jana Mullerová Jouzová website; bottom: The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889, The Metropolitan Museum of Art website