'Journey' brings harpists to Woodstock Opera House
Global concert harpists, the Atlantic Harp Duo, will perform at the Woodstock Opera House at 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 25.
Elizabeth Jaxon and Marta Luce released their debut CD “A Journey with Chopin and Sand” in 2011. Since then, the duo has been creating a new sound with Spanish-themed pieces and performing at harp festivals and concert halls spanning three continents.
The two women began playing music at a young age. Jaxon, from Champaign-Urbana, started out on the piano, followed by the harp. Luce, a Traverse City, Mich., native, played violin before learning how to play the harp.
“Music has always been a part of our lives as long as either of us can remember,” said Jaxon.
They met in Paris while completing their post-graduate studies in harp performance at the Ecole Normale de Musique, with world-famous French harpist and artistic director of the World Harp Congress, Isabelle Perrin. They began playing as a harp duo in 2006 and have been performing continuously, bringing their music to several countries including France, Poland, the Netherlands, the United States and Thailand.
Jaxon said their musical inspiration comes in part from the great harpists of the world as well as from composers who’ve written for the harp.
“We started out playing the few original works that exist for two harps, works by composers such as Jean-Michel Damase, John Thomas, Bernard Andrès, Marcel Tournier, et cetera, as well as some better-known transcriptions for this combination – from Debussy and Ravel to César Franck,” she said.
“Since there is not very much music written for this combination of instruments, however, we were inspired to look beyond the existing repertoire for two harps and create our own transcriptions and seek out new compositions.”
When not performing together, the two women earn livings by continuing their work as professional harpists. Luce runs a teaching studio in Paris and gives weekly private lessons to more than 30 harp students. She also is involved with freelance performance work with orchestras and groups around Paris.
Jaxon lives in Bangkok, Thailand, and works at the University of Mahidol College of Music and Principal Harp in the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra.
This will be the Atlantic Harp Duo’s second performance at the Woodstock Opera House. The first was in 2008. Jaxon said the Opera House is beautiful and she looks forward to coming back for a second visit.
“We have a really fun program planned for this concert,” she said. “Over the past year or so, we’ve been developing a Spanish-themed program of music, with pieces by Spanish composers Enrique Granados, Isaac Albéniz, and Manuel de Falla; or even composers from Latin America Ernesto Lecuona, Arturo Marquez; and composers who wrote music influenced by Spanish traditional music [like] Luigi Boccherini, Maurice Ravel. We particularly enjoy playing this kind of music because it has such a fiery and passionate spirit.”
The concert will begin at 7 p.m. and will cost $20 for adults and $18 for students and senior citizens.
“We don’t often have the chance to perform in this area. Since Marta lives in Paris and I live in Bangkok, it’s difficult to find a time when we’re both available to do concerts together in the U.S. This is a rare opportunity to hear us live,” said Jaxon.