Wed. Feb 8th, 2023

Rising up in Charleston and experiencing the Spoleto Pageant through the years helped worldwide award-winning harpist Abigail Kent see what was attainable within the performing arts world. 

“To see so many world class productions and performances come to my city — I might see the completely different prospects and the way the choices are limitless for artistic output,” Kent informed the Metropolis Paper.

She’s going to take the stage at Second Presbyterian Church downtown Jan. 20 for a free live performance at 6 p.m. as a part of Charleston Academy of Music’s Rush Hour Live performance sequence. 

“I’ll be taking part in each classical harp and the normal Celtic harp, going from one to the opposite taking part in various kinds of music and bridging gaps that individuals may need between them,” she mentioned.

Kent mentioned her inspiration for the upcoming live performance got here from the traditional Irish idea {that a} true harper can channel any pressure or type to create a particular response within the listener.

“I’ll discover completely different themes comparable to dance, mourning and unhappiness and in addition transformation — a bunch of various ubiquitous human experiences.”

Kent spent the final 10 years learning in musical conservatories together with the Royal Academy of Music in London, the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and the Mannes College of Music in New York Metropolis. She’s going to end up her doctorate in musical arts from The Juilliard College in Might. Along with harp and piano, Kent has performed cello, tenor banjo, mandolin, penny whistle and bodhrán (an Irish drum). 

“I’m blissful that I had a lot time being a pupil, as a result of I did begin the classical harp a bit of later than my friends [when] I used to be 15,” she mentioned. “Now I’m able to put all of my vitality into being a performer and being a instructor.”

She’s presently adjunct professor of harp within the School of Charleston’s music division and principal harpist for the Hilton Head Orchestra — but when she initially encountered the classical pedal harp, she didn’t see a future for herself.  

“At first, I simply didn’t really feel just like the pedal harp was precisely ‘me,’ ” Kent mentioned. “I didn’t suppose that there was an area for me on this instrument. However I began studying it and I used to be like, ‘Oh, that is actually cool. This is sort of a nice puzzle piece.’ The extra that I performed and the extra that I noticed completely different harp gamers, I noticed that there’s greater than only one means of taking part in this instrument. There was an area for me to be genuine.”

As somebody who’s spent most of her life taking part in devices for numerous audiences, Kent is adamant that the harp contributes simply as powerfully to orchestral compositions because the piano or the violin. 

“The harp is seen as a gendered instrument — that it’s very female and solely performed by girls,” Kent mentioned. “This picture of it being a girl’s instrument, particularly within the skilled music world, provides off the concept the harp is a lesser instrument, that it’s softer. I believe that’s nonsense. The harp is just not a weak or lesser instrument — you may create nice music actually on any instrument.”


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