Vancouver Island Symphony principal harpist Lani Krantz said people have been coming up to her after shows for years asking, “When can you do a harp solo for the orchestra?”
After almost 20 years with the symphony she’s finally getting that opportunity when she performs Lyra Angelica by 20th century British composer William Alwyn at the VIS’s upcoming Rejuvenate concert at the Port theatre on Nov. 16.
Krantz said conductor Pierre Simard suggested Lyra Angelica, a 1954 concerto for harp and string orchestra that became popular decades later when American figure skater Michelle Kwan used the piece in a routine at the ‘98 Olympics.
“I really didn’t remember it or know it very well and I wasn’t sure if I was going to love it,” Krantz said. “And literally I was enraptured for 30 minutes. It’s an extraordinary piece. It’s so beautiful.”
Alwyn was a prolific film and television scorer, and Krantz said the composition has an evocative, cinematic quality.
“It really plays out like a movie score,” she said. “So for me, and I’m pretty sure for all the listeners, you can really listen in and find a story.”
Krantz said there “aren’t a lot of harp concertos out there” and it’s been years since one was performed in Nanaimo. She said the Lyra Angelica performance will be a good opportunity for the audience to see what the harp can do.
“Most people haven’t seen the harp up close and a lot of the time we’re playing in the back of the orchestra and they don’t see our pedals changing, and they don’t see the kinds of movements that we do,” she said.
The Rejuvenate program is heavy on string compositions and features work by 19th century composers Mendelssohn, Mahler and Dvorak, as well as contemporary Canadian composer Vivian Fung. As its title suggests, the concert is designed to be relaxing and energizing. Krantz said it’s “gorgeous from start to end.”
“They really nailed it with the theme of the concert and the music choices that they have,” she said. “The whole program is absolutely stunning music so it’ll be an exciting show for people.”
Krantz said there is a much sought after harp instructor on the Island and as a result there are “quite a few” young up-and-coming harpists in Nanaimo. She said the harp is experiencing its own rejuvenation from coast to coast.
“All across the country the harp is just booming, for sure,” Krantz said. “Students are into it and there’s more music being composed and it’s super exciting right now for the harp.”
WHAT’S ON … The Vancouver Island Symphony presents Rejuvenate at the Port Theatre, 125 Front St., on Saturday, Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $48 and $56 for adults, $22 for students, available at the box office.