I have worked with my Celtic harp for almost 20 years. Like every stringed instrument it is graceful and decorative. The Celtic harp produces a rich vibrant tone. I am more than fond of this harp; perhaps this applies to every musician but I know I enjoy a truly intimate relationship with my harp.
There is preference for the glamour of a concert instrument which is magnificent in both beauty and tone. On re launching my music I looked initially at concert harps but felt the difficulty of the lack of easy portability. The alternative is a sort of hybrid model, lever instrument which is just as graceful as its larger sister while still being fairly portable. Apart from size the important difference with a concert harp is that key changes are pedal controlled in contrast with adjusting small levers to achieve this result. Perhaps a little like converting to an automatic car from using gears, or as Americans describe it as ‘stick’. When you are accustomed to levers, pedals are almost a different culture. In fact, changing keys manually is an innate part of a harpist’s playing style.
I have long known of Lyon and Healy as royalty among harp makers. The company is based in Chicago, presenting me with the unique, for me, experience of buying, unheard a harp from abroad, and arranging customs fees, airport taxes, handling charges, insurance, transport etc. To describe this as a minefield is no exaggeration. The various UK ‘companies’ I approached, born of internet searches impressed me as being run from a garden shed! There were no return calls only a concern that my harp would not emerge unhurt from their care. Only at the last minute it occurred to me to contact Lyon and Healy’s carriers. They were brilliant! They instilled confidence from the outset. On delivery their driver offered to help unpack the harp which was enclosed in an enormous triple thickness strong cardboard. Our excitement was uncontained as we gently cut, pulled and ripped the wrapping to reveal the truly beautiful Prelude harp.
I now own an instrument with an incomparable richness of tone equal to its grace and charm. I did not so much fall in love with my new harp but rather felt an immediate attachment.