All about me..
I started playing the harp at the age of 9. I think it was an attempt to be noticed in a musical family where I was the third of three girls. I’m fairly confident it worked! The harp lived in the hallway of our house, and an abiding childhood memory for both my sisters is them trying to drown out the sound of me practising the harp whilst they did their homework.
I played the harp for 5 years, practising only at school and the odd week in the holiday when it was my turn to have the school harp, before my parents realised that this was serious and bought me my first harp. I have Margaret Thatcher to thank for my first harp! My Dad, as part of his work as a Chemistry Professor, was asked to review the Westland helicopter and his consultancy fee helped buy the harp.
My first harp was a Erard Gothic harp. Beautiful in both appearance and sound. It was one of the first pedal harps made and as such was designed to sit in the parlour of a house, and never be moved, as there was no need - every good house had a harp in those days. Sadly our modern life is not the same. As beautiful as an Erard sounds it does not carry easily over the sound of a full symphony orchestra, and as such a conductor would constantly be asking me to play up. Equally the beautiful gothic molding around the top of the piilar does not stand up to being put in and out of cars well, and inevitably bits would fall off whenever it was moved.
Whilst at school I studied under Maria Beattie. I have always enjoyed performing and from an early age gave recitals - initially for my grandparents and their friends - but soon branched out further afield. I also played with school and county orchestras, and was harpist for musicals including My Fair Lady, Finian’s Rainbow and Carmen. I have played in a range of venues from school halls to cathedrals, castles to Festival Hall, London.
Whilst studying Physics at university, I continued to learn the harp, now with Thelma Owen. I also continued to enjoy performing with many orchestras including the Oxford Symphony Orchestra and the Oxford Sinfonietta. It was during my time at university that my parents bought me a harp that finally was portable without the danger of bits falling off!. I think it was a huge relief to them that at university I also met my husband-to-be, James, and they began to see that there might be a time when they would not have to be responsible for moving the harp every time it was wanted somewhere!
From Oxford we moved to Birmingham where I continued to combine teaching, now with the joys of a young family and the role of vicar’s wife. I also managed to introduce the harp to my husband’s church, organising an ensemble of youth, which included my pupils.
I currently live just outside Exeter with James, my husband, Josh and Toby, my two boys and an ever growing menagerie of animals. One of my pupils is particularly challenged by trying to get her harp through our five bar gate whilst not letting the free range chickens escape. As well as teaching and performing with orchestras, including Exeter Music Group Symphony Orchestra, I am actively involved with youth work in the city centre.
I am currently delighted to be performing on one of a new range of harps produced by Pilgrim harps. It was made especially for me, finished in December 2010 and is one of the first harps of its type. It is much lighter than traditional harps, a joy for moving around, and yet has a depth of sound and tone that is just beautiful.