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Midstate Orchestra Features 'Harp-Felt' Music - abc27 WHTM

Midstate Orchestra Features 'Harp-Felt' Music

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They arrive early for rehearsal, anxious to play in perhaps the largest orchestra of its kind in the country. The Harrisburg Harp Orchestra. Ten years old and going strong.

"In central Pennsylvania, our members number eighty to a hundred," said orchestra founder Louis Lynch. "For some reason this area draws harps and harpists."

Today's session involved seventeen harpists, accompanied by drums, flutes and vocalists. But for their upcoming Christmas concert, a 50 piece orchestra will perform.

"We can use as many harps or as many other instruments as we want to in our concert," said Lynch. "There is no established harp orchestra protocol. There is no music written for harp orchestras. There are a few ensemble pieces and four parts here and there, but for harp orchestras, it doesn't exist. So, we write our own music."

"When I started the orchestra, I was expecting 12 to audition," said Lynch. "I got 25. 25 people signed up because they wanted to play together."

"We've drawn harpists from Toronto, New York city and Philadelphia. A lot of them come from Reading. We've had some come up from Washington."

"There is something romantic and idealistic about the harp," added Lynch. "Also, it has a resonate quality that draws people in."

"You can get a good sound from a harp immediately as soon as you touch it. But, to master it takes a while."

The non-profit orchestra averages four concerts a year at various midstate venues. And their repertoire often features non-traditional harp music.

"We've done rock and roll. We've done some jazz. We've done some classical, of course, some Celtic and some bebop."

Lynch says the real joy for the players is the reaction from first time attendees at their concerts.

"The most common comments we get are, 'wow! I didn't know that harps could do that!"

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