Jazzharp.org newsletter - July 2014 / Summer jazz
Contents of this newsletter

HAPPENING NOW in real life

- World Harp Congress
- Deborah's 'old jazz days' leading back to the future - interview

COMING UP in real life

- Somerset Folk Harp Festival
- Jazz Harp Academy Recap Day
- Jazz Harp Bachelor & Masters with Park Stickney

- Asian Fusion, an interview with Motoshi Kosako by Harp Column
- Talkback with Trista - Jazz Harp Education


- Tri, a new album by the Milevska Trio
- On the Way Home, a solo CD by Motoshi Kosako

- I still cry by Iris Kroes
- advertisements -
Or is it winter?

Hi everyone!
Summer time is here! At least in the Northern hemisphere... People like Motoshi Kosako, Deborah Henson-Conant and many others are plunging from one festival into the other. We just heard them at the sizzling hot American Harp Society Conference in New Orleans, and this week they're Down Under (in a comfortable Australian winter) for the World Harp Congress. We're presenting interviews with both of them.
We are, in our turn, heading from Nola harping to Somerset harping, since the Somerset Folk Harp Festival has about as much of a jazz focus this year, including multiple JHF workshops AND a true jazz & blues harp ensemble.

Soon after that, we're hosting the Jazz Harp Academy Recap Day with Kurt Schwab. And for complete jazz harp immersion and serious study, one can soon turn to Park Stickney's bachelor or masters curriculum in Lausanne, Switzerland. Weigh in with your views on jazz harp education on Talkback with Trista. Rossitza Milevska was amongst the first to study jazz harp (and voice, and composition) at a conservatory and is now presenting her third album, Tri, with the sunniest cover ever!
Sydney, Australia
As we are writing this newsletter, Sydney is hosting the 12th World Harp Congress. On the jazz harp front, just to name a few:
Ruediger Oppermann started out rocking the stage with, amongst others, a piece with the exciting title 'Celtic Blues - Hendrix' for electric harp, electric bass and drums. Motoshi Kosako covered the Late Night Jazz set on Monday, as did Tara Minton and Felice Pomeranz on Tuesday. Joris Beets played his Delta Harp at the Sydney Dance Café on Wednesday.
After premiering & conducting her harp concerto Sonando Espagnol, with Eleanor Turner as the harp soloist, Deborah Henson-Conant will play an early set of jazz at the Opera House Bar that she earlier referred to as 'reminiscent of my old jazz days'. This triggered us to the interview below. A special note deserves 'Classical vs Jazz - The Ultimate Harp Battle' by Australian harpists Catherine Ashley and Michelle Smith.
More on

Triggered by this phrase:
'I'll be wielding my 32-string electric body harp in an early evening set reminiscent of my old jazz days',
which Deborah Henson-Conant recently used to describe her Opera House Bar performance at the World Harp Congress in Sydney, we questioned her about those days, and their relationship with her current activities and goals.
A few excerpts from the interview:

What is it exactly that you call 'your old jazz days'?
The biggest difference in 'my old jazz days' was the venues... these days I generally play in theaters or concert halls. The venue makes a difference in the repertoire...

Why did you diverge from it?
... It's not that a show is 'better' than a jazz set, it's just that it's much more 'me,' because my own musical focus blends both musical genres (like Blues, Flamenco, World, cabaret) and performance genres (like music, theater, movement, humor)...

Does this occasion mean you're kind of getting back to it?
... I realized that the online courses I've been creating and teaching in the last 2 years, ARE leading me back to a more pure jazz expression, as I work towards creating a jazz-harp curriculum for other harp players. I was very lucky in the way I learned jazz, and it taught me a level of fluency that allowed me to integrate a lot of other styles into it and eventually to develop my own unique-to-me style, and I want my curriculum to take other harpists that same route. ...

Read on...
And for more of Deborah's inside stories, sign up to http://www.hipharp.com/blog/
Parsippany, New Jersey, USA
We've said it before, nowhere to find such a vast amount of harp (and harp related) workshops as in Parsippany, New Jersey in July. Again, the JHF is part of the programme, thanks to Kathy DeAngelo's realization of the interest of jazz, blues and improvisation, and to the great support of Camac Harps.

The Jazz Harp Focus program in short? Here it is:
Jazz & Blues Demystified, Harping from Lead Sheets, Jazz & Blues Take Home Tunes, Gear Up your Harp and Jazz & Blues Harp Ensemble by Sabine Meijers and Brenda Dor-Groot for the JHF
Beginning the Blues and Lady Sings the Blues by Martha Gallagher,
Maeve's Master Class and Blazing Levers by Maeve Gilchrist

We look forward in particular to our all new Jazz & Blues Harp Ensemble workshops, where we will work on 2 arrangements that we made especially for this Somerset Harpy Little Big Band. And additional band members ;) are still welcome, so if you're coming down, consider signing up and receive your parts today!
Festival info & last minute registrations on
Rotterdam, The Netherlands | with simultaneous beginners workshops
At the request of former Academy participants, we planned a Jazz Harp Academy Recap Day on Sunday, August 24, in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Intensive course participants of the Jazz Harp Academy 2010, 2011 and 2013 can come down for a hands-on recap of the course contents, a combo lesson with session musicians, and enjoy an informal jam and fun meetup.
Academy teacher, saxophone player and band leader Kurt Schwab will be there to help you practise and enhance your jazz harp skills and inspire all.
You're not a former Academy participant, but you do have jazz harp experience? Check in with us at info@jazzharp.org to discuss the possibility to join in.
Simultaneously, beginning jazz harpists can attend one or more workshops on the basics of jazz, blues & improvisation for harp with Brenda Dor-Groot and Sabine Meijers, and enjoy the informal jam and the company of fellow jazz harp enthusiasts.
More info on
in Lausanne, Switzerland

If you are serious about pursuing Jazz Harp on a professional level, you might want to check out the all new 'Jazz Bachelor' and 'Mixed Master' programmes for harp with Park Stickney and Letizia Belmondo at the Haute Ecole de Musique in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Mixed masters means a combined classical and jazz curriculum with at least a masters entry level of classical playing.

This is a one of a kind programme at a very personalized, quality music institute which is excited about creating a home for harpists, fully acknowledging jazz harp as much as classical harp.
Interested? The auditions for the 2015/2016 academic year will be taking place in March or April 2015. However, if you're interested in one of these programmes, you will most likely need some serious lead time for preparing to be judged at both your instrumental and your jazz level, as well as for the necessary logistics (and to refresh/advance your French;)
To see if there's a match between your goals and abilities and the curriculum's profile, get in touch with Park Stickney (
park@jazzharp.com / www.jazzharp.com) and check the institute website (www.hemu.ch).

Oh, and there's a few nice bonuses: a regular annual tuition fee around 1000 swiss francs, and lots of skiing in the Alps!
an interview with Motoshi Kosako by Harp Column
- This article first appeared in the July/August 2014 issue of Harp Column -

This interview was such a great read that we really wanted all jazz harp loving audience to read it. We got permission from Harp Column to republish the full article.
For sure, after reading this, you'll become a fan of Harp Column too. Go to
their website to subscribe.

"We caught up with Motoshi back home in California where you are as likely to find him caring for his animals, working in his garden, or practicing Judo as you are to find him sitting behind a harp. A lot of us talk about finding balance in our lives. Motoshi is living it. And if his authentic and easy-going nature are any indication, the balance he has found for himself is working out pretty well."

"And also, as a guitarist, it was difficult for me to really study classical guitar diligently because I could play already—improvisation and blues and jazz. But playing classical music, you need discipline to read, follow, and act. [Laughs] In a way you have to surrender to the idea the composer is presenting us. Not surrender, but you need to say, I agree with this, I agree with that, and try to make an effort to actualize what he is envisioning in the music. I was lacking that part of discipline as a jazz musician, as an improviser, and I wanted to develop that, but if I have an instrument that I can play well, I couldn’t force myself to do it. I thought by playing the harp I would have to start from the beginning, and I thought that by doing that I could renew and refresh my relationship to music. It was a big gamble for me. But it worked out, so I’m very happy I did what I did."

the full article on our website.
Some recent blogs by Motoshi on Harp Column can be read
Jazz Harp Education
Greetings harp lovers and enthusiasts! As we mentioned in the last newsletter, three years ago we commissioned a researcher to pull together both concrete and semi-fuzzy information about jazz and the harp. You may have actually been a part of that project! In this column we present excerpts from that 2011 research paper and invite you to share your views on our
Jazz Harp Academy Facebook group.

In our last article we asked,
What is Jazz Harp? What makes someone a jazz player or composer, and/or what makes an arrangement “jazz”? That topic is of course still open - read more and contribute to that April 18 discussion here.

As we further explore the topic What is Jazz Harp?, inevitably we look toward the state of jazz harp education. “Jazz Harp Education - what and when and where is that?!?” you say? Our research paper digs in:
"Luckily, there are some harpists who have tackled jazz harp education and are willing to share their wisdom with others. For example, Park Stickney teaches courses regularly at the Royal Academy of London, as does Rosetty de Ruiter-Verwoerdt at Codarts conservatory in Rotterdam, Felice Pomeranz at Berklee College in Boston, and Carrol McLauglin at the University of Arizona." *

"Though there are possibilities for jazz harp enthusiasts, it seems that jazz harp will be regarded as a hobby, a curiosity, or a light diversion in a classical set for a classical audience, as long as there is no Bachelor or Master degree available in jazz harp. I asked harpists and music educators how they would feel about a jazz harp curriculum being set up that is honored by a bona fide degree. Needless to say, this proposition was met with much enthusiasm by the people I interviewed. Established jazz harpists feel they might have achieved more, with greater ease and at an earlier age if there would have been such a program; harp teachers say there is an increasing demand among their students for styles other than classical, and they come up with many examples of students who were disappointed in the limitations of the current conservatory curriculum and dropped out." **

"I asked the jazz harp community which institute or country they thought most likely to be the first to offer such a degree. Sweden was named to have a vibrant jazz scene, and most Dutch musicians have high expectations of the conservatory of Rotterdam, which offers a wide spectrum of styles and houses a World Music and Dance Centre that is unique in Europe. Rudiger Opperman can think of many possibilities for many reasons: 'European countries, because the term jazz is used in a different, more improvised way. Germany, because it has the biggest music market and infrastructure. The U.S., because there is more sponsoring power in the harp manufacturer's field. France, because the food is better.' In his opinion, the most important thing in music is the spiritual power, which can be found anywhere in the world but cannot be taught at an institute. To truly feel the spirit of the music, the student will have to make an effort of his own to meet and be inspired by other musicians; where he's enrolled is of less importance… Interestingly, most of the respondents named their own country of residence as most open to new developments [for jazz harp education]."

(p.14/15 of The Time is Right for Jazz Harp - 2011).

* Since 2011, Park Stickney has also started teaching at the Conservatoire National Supérieure Musique de Lyon and the Haute Ecole de Musique in Lausanne, and Maeve Gilchrist has been added to the faculty of Berklee College of Music's American Roots program.
What do you think about the current state of Jazz Harp Education? How important is a degree in jazz harp? What would be the benefits and/or the drawbacks of this kind of study? Where in the world should that happen? We want to hear from you - click here to add your two (four, 6/8) cents.

Together we shape what jazz harp is and will become. Now is the perfect time, this is the perfect space. Join the What is Jazz Harp / Jazz Harp Education discussion and riff on Jazz + Harp!
See you there!
Milevska Trio
The Milevska Trio consists of Rossitza Milevska (harp & voice), Cédric Le Donne (drums & voice) and Frederick Lacroix (double bass & voice). Their recently launched album 'Tri' contains quite a few originals by the band members alongside works of Jobim and Piazzolla and, of course, a Bulgarian traditional ;)

Listen & download at the jazzharp shop
Motoshi Kosako

Motoshi's latest CD is a harp solo album containing nine compositions of his own and three traditionals. He writes in a variety of styles such as blues, funk, oriental, modern Jazz and European style jazz, showcasing the wide possibility of the harp in an improvisational context.
Listen & download at the jazzharp shop:
Iris Kroes

A bit different than usual, but in an unusual week like this, we'd like to share a song of mourning this time.
Last week, the Netherlands and the world were struck by the loss of MH17, a flight packed with travellers on their way to holidays or conventions, overtaken by aggression in which they had no part. Last Wednesday was marked as a National Day of Mourning. Singer and harpist Iris Kroes brought her music straight to the hearts of the people during the ceremony 'Connected in grief' for the homecoming of the MH17 victims' remains.
Thank you for listening! Sabine Meijers & Brenda Dor-Groot | iJHF
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International Jazzharp Foundation website: www.jazzharp.org