Why the Harp Consort, part 3
The Harp Consort relies on a blend of scholarship and intuition in performance. This relates to both the music and the dance.
According to Andrew Lawrence-King, this blend is “very important… because we’re improvising so much of the performance, and one of the absolute ground-rules of this ensemble is that in the moment of performance, you do what feels right to you, and not the thing you agreed in rehearsal. And we trust each other that if something feels, in the moment of performance, I know we said that we’d perhaps play this phrase piano, but it feels like it ought to be forte – we trust each other that we’ll all have the same instinct, and so given that rule, we don’t think twice about it, we don’t think ‘oh, in rehearsal we said’ – we just think, no, it feels this way, so we’ll go with it.”
And yet it’s the dance as much as anything which sets this ensemble apart. It brings a visual element, something that the audience can really ‘see’ and experience. It allows for a different kind of story telling, through action, dance and drama. As Ian Harrison says, “when you play dance music, your conductor, or the person you’re following, is the dancer.” Also, sometimes in rehearsal, if things in the music aren’t sounding quite right, Andrew Lawrence King might ask Steven to demonstrate something through dance, and the visual element helps everyone to understand how the music should sound – particularly the rhythm and pulse and tempo.
So what should we expect in a performance by the Harp Consort? Well, perhaps we should leave the final word to Caitríona O’Leary. “What makes the Harp Consort special? Working with the cream of early music players, a performance aesthetic of lively entertainment – and the dancing of course!”