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Discovering the orchestral repertoire: The Harp in the Orchestra Volume 3 by Elisabeth Colard

When auditioning for a position as an orchestral harpist, the extracts to be prepared (the famous “orchestral excerpts”) are generally drawn from the same lists. There are exceptions, of course, and sometimes the orchestra requests a rare or unfamiliar work. In such cases, it’s amusing to see how the e-mails and messages fly back and forth, with everyone trying to obtain scores and advice on how to avoid the potential pitfalls.

Once in the thick of it, the orchestral harpist finds that life is somewhat different: one quickly realises that the orchestral repertoire is indeed vast, and that each work has at least one passage that will require a great deal of preparation, and might even put a soloist’s nerves to the test! The writer of this article recalls being called in to replace a harpist who was off sick, and having to sight-read an unfamiliar work; the notes themselves presented no reading difficulty, but what an unpleasant sensation when the orchestra suddenly stopped and the harpist found himself reading a solo passage. In this kind of situation, the slightest pedal error might be a bit of a disaster.

Such an experience is unfortunately unavoidable, but the best way to avoid it is to acquire as complete a knowledge of the repertoire as possible, and to remember that in fact, no orchestral harp part is really “easy”!

Elisabeth Colard

This book is the fruit of Elisabeth Colard’s forty plus years of experience.

The fruit of her 40 years’ experience as an orchestral solo harpist and, above all, of her 15 years teaching the orchestral repertoire at the Centre Supérieur de Musique du Pays Basque “Musikene”, the aim of Elisabeth Colard’s multi-volume series is very specific each time. While the first volume brings together the main orchestral passages requested at auditions, the second volume enables students to concentrate on excerpts for two harps.

We are particularly impressed by Elisabeth Colard’s latest volume, “A la découverte du Répertoire d’Orchestre”, volume 3 of “La harpe au sein de l’orchestre”; a truly varied collection of excerpts that every harpist can study with complete peace of mind.  As in the previous volumes, Elisabeth Colard references the melodic phrases played by the other instruments above each excerpt: those that will stand out and guide harpists through the orchestra and, above all, enable them to better understand  musical meaning and thus deepen their interpretation of the work.

A la découverte du répertoire orchestral : « la harpe au sein de l'orchestre - Volume 3 »

A la découverte du répertoire orchestral : a harpe au sein de l’orchestre – Volume 3

This third volume is intended not for advanced harpists ready for orchestral competitions, but for less experienced students. Even more rare is the way it helps the student develop a greater awareness of the musical context. In order to test and share these extracts with another musician, this 3rd volume is completed by access to the melodic parts. This has always been the case with every volume in the series, but now they’re easily accessible with a simple QR code provided inside the book.

Clearly, this is essential work, but it doesn’t usually come until much later. So, this invaluable grasp of the musical context can be done right from the start. And at some point in the future, all these works will find their way into the repertoire, whether for study or concert.


You can purchase your copy here, from the Camac Webshop!

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