THE MAGIC OF A THOUSAND STRINGS
International Harp Ensemble at the Civic Theatre
A forest of harps filling the Civic Stage. Based in the Home Counties, this unique ensemble includes performers of all ages and backgrounds, playing harps of all colours and sizes, and is no stranger to overseas tours and prestige gigs.
Last year they played on Songs of Praise with Britain's Got Talent prodigy Faryl Smith. And she was with them in the Civic, singing that same hymn as well as some lovely Bernstein, and, hurrah, the old Noel Gay number I Took My Harp to a Party.
The harps at this party, hosted by their bubbly, enthusiastic founder and director Luisa-Maria Cordell, gave us a wide-ranging repertoire: Black and White Rag, a Baroque Flamenco, Skyfall and Take Five, as well as classical favourites from Handel, Purcell and Pachelbel.
Of course it's not necessarily true that two dozen instruments will sound better than two, but strength of numbers was particularly effective in Pirates of the Caribbean, and my favourite, a piece of Balinese minimalism named Spice Islands.
The harp sound was enhanced by a solo cello, a double bass, and percussion, much of it provided by the players knocking and slapping on the wooden frame of their instruments.