Archivos del mes: 22 abril 2011





With this fourth and last interview with similar questions to harpists playing contemporary music, I wanted a view that would include harpists from Latin America, Asia, Europe and North America. I find it very interesting how colleagues coming from such different cultures and realities may have so much in common regarding repertoire and collaboration with composers. It underlines important aspects of my own thoughts and gives me strength to continue. It makes me feel part of a team too and I hope this helps to increase an interest in new music!


Here are Karen Gottlieb’s replies and thoughts for this blog:


MG: Which would be your observations regarding the differences in teaching harp technique in the various countries you have had contact with? Could you explain the strongest aspects of these techniques and their differences?


Karen Gottlieb: I have really had no direct experience of teaching techniques in other countries. I can say that the harpists I have seen perform new music are all extremely well schooled and present a very thorough knowledge of the music and what is required to perform it.


MG: What are your own goals now, as the harpist of the San Francisco Contemporary Players and also as a teacher? Tell us about the ensemble, plans, new seasons and its focus on new music.


Karen Gottlieb: The SFCMP ensemble is in a new phase having just acquired a new and very exciting music director – Steven Schick. He begins this season 2011 in September. As an internationally known percussionist and new music specialist, he will bring many opportunities thru the music and connections both nationally and internationally. There are many new projects that are in progress and our group has a renewed enthusiasm.

Check out our website . This season I will be playing a work by US composer Aaron Gervais – Culture 1 for piano and harp (which has already been recorded by several European harpists) as well as other works, including Dallapiccola.

I am also starting to introduce new music pieces to my students. After the initial questioning, they become fascinated and amazed at how much they enjoy it.


MG: How is your relation to contemporary composers?


Karen Gottlieb: I love working with composers. It is so important to help them learn to write and understand how to write for the harp so that the instrument is used. The harp offers such a wealth of sounds and expression making it perfect for contemporary music.


MG: How do you feel about the harp being an instrument with so much 19th Century repertoire?


Karen Gottlieb: I personally am not that interested in performing the 19th century music. So many harpists play it beautifully and I am thrilled there are people who love doing that. My interest is in bringing the full range of the harp to the listening audience. I feel I have more to contribute by playing new music than I do the romantic 19th century music…however, I still enjoy playing many of those pieces for my own enjoyment as well as performing them on a program alongside the new music. It makes for a wonderful variety and wealth of styles for the audience.


MG: Do you think that the new compositions for harp written in the 20th and 21th Century will be played as much as the 19th Century ones?


Karen Gottlieb: No, I do not believe that most new compositions will be played as often as the traditional harp music. Most people enjoy hearing a very strong melodic line and it is much easier to listen to tonal & melodic music. Listening to new music requires the audience to expand and stretch their sense of what music is and what makes music work. New music can be about textures, color, shapes, structure and have no melody.

But as time goes by, I think our ears adapt and accept these new sounds to the extent that many wonderful compositions written for the harp in the 20th century has become standard repertoire. I can imagine that the best of what is being written now will also have a place in the repertoire, though it might be performed by few.


MG: What is it that you like the most from the composers you have worked with or are working with?


Karen Gottlieb: I love seeing their ideas come to life. If I can help them make it more playable by showing them how to change something, getting the same effect but make it so much more accessible to the harpist performing it, then I feel it has made a huge difference. Harpists want to play music, especially if it seems that the composer really understands their instrument and knows how to write for it. I also hope that if the composer understands the instrument and what works and what might not work, that they will then be more willing to include it in their compositions.


Since 1985, Karen Gottlieb has performed as second harpist with the San Francisco Symphony and as a member of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players (since 1990).   She has recorded regularly with the Grammy Award Winning San Francisco Symphony and toured extensively on the Symphony’s European, Asian and National Tours, appearing at many of the major music festivals of Europe including Lucerne, Salzburg, the London Proms & Edinburgh.  In 1983 she soloed with the San Francisco Boys Chorus on their concert tour of Australia and New Zealand.  In addition she served as principal harpist with the California Symphony for 20 years (1988-2008) and the Cabrillo Music Festival. She has appeared and performed regularly with the San Francisco Opera and Ballet orchestras, The Kirov Ballet Orchestra-1995 USA Tour, The Russian National Orchestra 2010 USA Tour and many of the Broadway Touring companies.  She has accompanied the leading pop & contemporary singers, The Pacific BoyChoir, San Francisco Girls Chorus & the SF Symphony Chorus and recorded many of the major movie and TV soundtracks with Skywalker Symphony Orchestra.  Since 1992 she has been a  member of the San Francisco Symphony-”Adventures in Music” program with many different groups- the flute, harp & viola/cello trio Silver & Gold, Plus, the flute, voice, harp and bass quartet 4 Sounds,  Strings & Things and The Harp, Accordion & Tuba trio-THAT! Group; educating thousands of children in the San Francisco public school system.  She has also performed with Music at Kohl Mansion for the Burlingame/San Mateo Public Schools for the past 15 years in flute and harp or tuba and harp duets.   

Ms. Gottlieb received her Bachelors degree from the University of Washington in Seattle, and her Masters in Performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music. She is currently on the faculty of San Francisco State University and Mills College and she teaches privately.  She is also the San Francisco Bay Area service technician for Lyon & Healy and Salvi Harps of Chicago.







MG: Which would be your observations regarding the differences in teaching harp technique in the various countries you have had contact with? Could you explain the strongest aspects of these techniques and their differences? 


Frédérique Camberling: I think that most professors would like that their teaching would be recognized as the only one! To me that is not relevant. The most important thing, in my opinion, is to help students to prepare for their professional lives, without defining which is the best technique, although it is vital to have a solid technique in order to face all kinds of music, specially now when finding a job is so difficult!


         There are many ways of good playing, even if they are different, and I think that we teachers should consider technique and differences as a starting point from which we can develop each student’s abilities (with competitions or no competitions involved), and adequate repertoire to each one of them. I am afraid that this discussion about which is the best technique unfortunately is related to the professor’s egos more than to the content of learning and studies.


 MG: What is your own goal now, as harpist with the Ensemble InterContemporain and a teacher? Tell us about the ensemble, plans, how is your work, how you work with composers, etc.


Frédérique Camberling: I share equally my roles between EIC and teaching. In Musikene, Spain, I am in charge of auditions, including coaching composition students so they understand how the harp works. I play recitals and concerts with different kinds of music, in order to keep the joy of developing interpretation in different styles, and also to show my students as much as possible. This way, everything I do is related and this is exactly the way I want to do my work as a musician! 

         I am always open to meet and talk with new composers, young or older.


MG: What is your relation to contemporary composers like?


Frédérique Camberling: It is very good. In two years I will premiere two new concertos and this year I have prepared three new solo pieces and six chamber music compositions, besides all the classical music that I keep learning and preparing since I never played it before!


 MG: How do you feel about the harp being an instrument with so much 19th Century repertoire?


 Frédérique Camberling: Absolutely not that repertoire only! 19th Century repertoire is very important for the development of teaching, since it was written by harpist-composers, but musically speaking, even if it’s pleasant, it contributed only with new technical skills for the harp, but not much for music itself. 


MG: Do you think that the harp compositions written in the 20th and 21th Century will be played as much as the 19th Century ones? Why did you choose to play contemporary composers more than others? 


Frédérique Camberling: I chose new music since the composers who wrote this kind of music are not harpists, and their way of thinking uses all the timbre capacities, the colors, the independence of the hands to express themselves resulting in a richer music, much more developed artistically, not only as virtuoso instrumental demonstration, such as Paganini with the violin and other similar examples. Besides, I find that the interest in 20th and 21ths Century music should be approached from mere curiosity by many more musicians!


 MG: What is it that you like the most from the composers you have worked with or are working with?


 Frédérique Cambreling: That depends on the composers character and the amount of attraction they feel for the harp!


Frédérique Cambreling shares her time between activities as a soloist with L’Ensemble InterContemporain since 1993 and teaching at Musikene in Spain.

         After studying in France, she won three prizes at international competitions1976-1977) and became solo harpist with L’Orchestre National de France (1977-1985).

         She has been passionate about the development of playing techniques and modes of expression related to the harp. Her eclecticism allows her to participate in musical events, in France and other countries. She presented “De mémoire de Harpe”, a co-production between Musikene and L’Ensemble InterContemporain, at La Cité de la Musique in Paris.

         She has been a soloist with the Chamber Orchestra of Norway, L’Orchestre de la Monnaie in Brussels, the National Orchestra of Lyon, Opera Orchestra of Lyon and Bretagne Orchestra, among others.

Some of her most important premieres:

·       2008 – pour harpe et orchestre, « Dissociations » pour trois harpes solo by Andreas Dohmen with Bayrische Rundfunk, conductor Lothar Zagrozek

·       2008 – pour harpe et orchestre, « Danzas Secretas » by Luis De Pablo, conductor  Arturo Tamayo with l’orchestre de Euskadi

·       2006 – pour harpe, contrebasse et ensemble, « Soleil Filaments » by Frédéric Pattar with Frédéric Stochl and l´Ensemble L’instant Donné

·       2002 – pour harpe et orchestre, « Hélios » by Philippe Schoëller, conductor David Robertson with l’orchestre National de Lyon

·       2001 – pour harpe et ensemble, « Die Stücke des Sangers » by Wolgang Rihm, conductor  Pierre Boulez  with L’Ensemble InterContemporain

She has recorded as a soloist with conductors Georges Prêtre, Kent Nagano, Pierre Boulez, Emmanuel Krivine and Jean-Jacques Kantorow.

More information: 






Article and Interview with Chaerin Kim, Korean Harpist. 

My Corean collegue Chaerin Kim agreed to share a text on this blog. It’s called “The Colors of Music” and was first published a few months ago in the Hingham Newspaper, Massachusetts. I like how we all can learn from her experience – as a well educated musician, trained in piano, composition and the harp. It also meets with my curiosity for how music is taught, learnt, practiced and shared in other faraway parts of the world, as well as her experience from Europe and the USA. This is it:

 “After listening to many performances by musicians from all over the world, I discovered that the only performers who captured my heart were not necessarily those with the best technique, but those players who had various “colors” in their playing. By “colors” I mean the quality, which evokes emotion and imagination, and allows you to visualize what the performers are saying through their music. You know, to become a truly wonderful musician, you need to have “colors” in your playing.

Growing up in Korea, I was lucky to study music on many different instruments from many teachers who were trained in Korea, Russia, U.S., U.K., Germany and France. I started when I was 6. I took piano, violin, cello and voice lessons until I was 18. In fact, I double majored in piano and cello. I saw the harp when I was 18, and the instrument honestly took my heart. Once I fell in love with the harp, I talked to my parents, and they kindly let me change instruments.

To me, the harp is a beautiful and charming instrument that often gives people comfort. And, it has many “colors” in it. The harp represents love, peace, sensitivity, charm, sorrow, joy, and so many other feelings in different colors.

I love teaching, and find it is such a giving thing. To share with other people what I have enjoyed for more than 27 years makes me very happy and gives me a good reason to be part of this world. I try to teach my beginning and intermediate students very solid basic concepts, so they can draw on these later.

I believe musicianship is important, but you also need proper technique and good and stable tempo from your heart to be able to present your musicianship and artistry. I try to teach my advanced students other aspects, so they can go beyond basic skills, reach another level, and bring color to their playing. It’s important to convey your thoughts, experiences in life and philosophy through your music.

I like to encourage people of all ages to continue on with their music education, and I don’t mean just on the harp, but with other music opportunities. Music is not just about giving, but also feeling you are getting a lot more than you give. Even though I am a teacher, I learn a lot from my beginning students, who are passionate and eager to learn, respect and love the music. I let them know it’s all about color and imagination”. Chaerin Kim                              




MG: Which would be your observations regarding the differences in teaching technique in the various countries you have had contact with?

Could you explain the strongest aspects of these techniques and their differences?


Chaerin Kim: I would not really compare in words what is good or bad/ which countries education system is better or not since it all depends on individual students.

I think there are differences though. My previous teachers were all educated in different countries as US, UK, Germany, France, Russia and Korea, and I experienced they have different teaching styles. I found that is interesting.
I enjoyed each teacher’s style since it was exciting to see all the differences. It also gave me broad view in music in general, not just looking at the isolate harp field.
In addition, when I hear students from different countries I notice how their playing is different style-wise. I find there are some common languages and tendencies in those students who are from the same country.

 Of course, most likely, it depends on their personal education level. –There are three important default aspects and qualities I would like to state as necessary to become a wonderful musician:

1- With whom they studied when they were very young.
2- How talented they are/ having good ears to produce a good tone, having a good tempo and technique and their own philosophy to present their musical interpretation to audiences.
Also in my vocabulary, talent could be ” how much effort a person can put in his/ or her instrument.” The focused students who practice more, I would count that is another kind of talent.
3- How much support they got–from their parents and friends. This is often as important as the other two previously mentioned aspects.


MG: What is your own goal now, teaching undergraduate students at Harvard?


Chaerin Kim: Harvard Music Department is more focused in the academic area. However, I teach the undergraduate students through the Office of Arts Program. It is wonderful to see how talented they can be in many areas even though they are not majored in music.

My own goal is to provide the student a wide view for understanding the music itself. At the same time, I train them to focus on keen attention to music while they perform. Really, you produce the sound in the extent to what you want and what you think. Audience can perceive this and that is why it is so important to give all you can with your own interpretation.


MG: How is your relation to nowadays composers?


Chaerin Kim: I love to work with composers. I am very interested in composition. I wanted to double major in harp and composition while I was doing my doctorate. I still carry my passion for composition. My first inspiration was my previous teacher Skaila Kanga, who is considered one of the most wonderful harpists and harp teacher nowadays.  Sometimes she asked me to compose, and I would bring some piece to my lesson. She introduced me to this new world: how to see the new and creative side of the harp playing, working with composers and being a composer myself. Actually, her hobby is composition, so it was very natural for me to share my composition interest with her. 

            Composers are full of wonderful, creative ideas, and I like helping them. Most composers do not have a real chance to work with a harpist, and they are shy about asking for it. I like showing them all about my favorite instrument, and it brings me joy to see how many other ideas they can come up with after I helped them.

 In 2007, I helped Ivana Lisak’s harp concerto which was written for me. I felt so honored to get her composition and I love the piece. As a harpist or any musician, to get a concerto for oneself is a lifetime thing. It does not happen often, so I was completely thrilled.


MG: How do you feel about the harp being an instrument with so much 19th Century repertoire?


Chaerin Kim: I like 19TH Century pieces. In fact, I like pieces from all the different periods of music history. You can cry listening to Bach´s Chaconne, you can also cry listening to Mahler´s 5th Symphony Adagietto. Each different period of time has its own charm.

            I just feel the need of more contemporary pieces so we harpists can have a wider repertoire.


MG: Do you think that the new 20th Century compositions for harp are meaningful?


Chaerin Kim: I believe each piece has its own language and character. Some people might like certain piece, as well as some other might not. We cannot blame anybody for not favoring the same thing.


MG: Do you think that the new compositions for harp written in the 20th and 21th Century will be played as much as the 19th Century ones?


Chaerin Kim: You never know. I can´t predict things, since only God knows what will happen tomorrow!


MG: What is it that you like the most from a composer you are working with?


Chaerin Kim: I like stylish composers.












Marisela González is one of Latin America´s most outstanding harpists and teachers, and has collaborated widely with contemporary composers, increasing the 20th and 21st century harp repertoire written in Venezuela and other countries.

She was born in Caracas, Venezuela, where she attended the Escuela Superior de Música J.A. Lamas as a harp student, and graduated in 1978 with diplomas for both harp teaching and performance.

In 1980 she received a Master of Music degree in harp from the New England Conservatory under Bernard Zighera, and in 1982, a Master of Music degree in Wind Ensemble Conducting under F. L. Battisti from the same school.

Marisela was a prize winner in the Eight International Harp Contest in Israel and also won first prize in the First Competition of Young Soloists of the Orquesta Sinfónica Venezuela (1983).

She was principal harpist of the Orquesta Sinfónica Venezuela (1987-2000) and has recorded for the Radio National de France, Radio Nacional de Venezuela, the Orquesta Sinfónica Municipal de Caracas, the Sinfonietta Caracas and Editorial Equinoccio.

Mrs. González has commissioned and premiered several new works. In 2007 she published a book on the Latin American pedal harp repertoire. Currently Marisela is a Titular Professor at the University Simon Bolivar and teaches at the Mozarteum Conservatory in Caracas. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the World Harp Congress from 1996-2002, and since 2008.  




MG: Which would be your observations regarding the differences in teaching harp players in the various countries you have had contact with? 


Marisela González:

After observing not only students, but harpists and performers in general, I think very strongly that with the globalization, much of the information about teaching and learning, how to do it, how to improve it, is the same all over the world. You can have great ideas about teaching but if your students do not have access to harps, there is not much you can do and that is a common problem in our Latin American countries. 


MG: What is your own goal now, teaching students in Venezuela and, for instance, the classes you have just given in Brasilia?  


Marisela González:  

I enjoy teaching very much and I was not teaching for a while, so this is my opportunity to give my share in the never ending process of transferring knowledge to the younger generations. With my Venezuelan students and also with those that I get to teach once a year or through internet, I give them references to think about, that helps them make their own decisions from a very early stage. 


MG: How is your relation to contemporary composers?


Marisela González:

It is a dynamic relationship, I give workshops when needed, I teach courses to composers, I have composer friends and some composers just contact me to ask questions. They send their pieces, I look them over and I send suggestions if needed.

Most of my life as a harpist has been one of very close relationships to composers. I truly believe that music is the greatest means of communication, it has always been, and I feel that as a performer it is my duty to convey to the public what the composers of our time have to say. It is a big job to understand and play new works all the time but it is also very enriching and fulfilling.


MG: How do you feel about the harp being an instrument with so much 19th Century repertoire?


Marisela González:

It is true that harpists play 19th century repertoire, but it is also true that of all the performers, harpists are the ones that work with and dedicate more time to new music. I am more concerned about the public and what they applaud.


 MG: Do you think that the new compositions for harp written in the 20th and 21th Century will be played as much as the 19th Century ones?


Marisela González:

There is an element in music that I consider the most important one, and that is the capacity of a work to transcend. When a performer, an audience, other musicians want to hear a work again, we are in the presence of a work that for some reason appeals to others (transcends). It could be the technique the composer used to write it, the language, the colors, the structure, the emotional content, all of it together, or some of it, who knows, but people hear the piece and they want to hear it again. These works will always be played, I am sure. That is what has happened for the last 500 years. 

If the works will be played as much as 19th C compositions, I think will depend on how harpists and the audiences develop. We as harpists are not detached from the world, and esthetic enjoyment has always been very much related to what offers security which in turn is immediately related to what is well known.  

Also, education, entertainment and  in many ways social life nowadays, due to massive media, can not give as much room to curiosity and creativity and that is why people keep hearing the same “music” over and over again. I think that if harp teachers include in their program 20th and 21st century music, then harpists will include it in their recitals, and if the public is often exposed to the music, they should get to know it and this knowledge develops security and security promotes esthetic enjoyment. Then this repertoire might be played as much as the 19th century one. 


MG: What is it that you like the most from the composers you have worked with or are working with?


Marisela González:

I like their need for expression, their quest for the right way of communicating, their feelings, their thoughts and their souls.




The Latin American pedal harp repertoire: Catalogue and analysis of the use of the harp technical resources (2007), FUNVES, Caracas.


Sonatas y Folías, Colección Armonia, Editorial Equinoccio, Universidad Simón Bolívar, 2007 

Canto Aborigen, Colección Armonia, Editorial Equinoccio, Universidad Simón Bolívar, 1996

Desde una Ventana con Loros, Colección Armonía, Editorial equinoccio, Universidad Simón Bolívar, 1996

Música en Argos, Colección Equinoccio, Universidad Simón Bolívar, 1997

Tenreiro by Raizuelo, Orquesta Sinfónica Municipal de Caracas, 1992

Música Contemporánea, Sinfonietta Caracas, 1988