Louise Thomson – Harp, 7 December 2018

Louise Thomson’s first visit to the Scunthorpe and North Lincolnshire Concert Society did not go quite as planned when her harp was damaged in transit and she had to performed on a borrowed one.
Louise’s damaged harp. (More photos below)                                                                                Images by Marian Pearson

Read Clive’s review below for more details of what happened! However, the audience appreciated Louise’s professionalism and determination to perform a concert for us. Here are their comments:

  • The first full harp recital I have enjoyed beyond the interval. Lovely programme and presentation – a real success.
  • Throughly enjoyed – wonderful!
  • Wonderful! So brave.
  • What a star Louise is. Within half a minute I forgot that she was playing on a borrowed harp! Beautiful expressive playing with a super varied programme. Thank you!!
  • A pleasant well-balanced and interesting performance with just the right amount of speaking which was beautifully executed.
  • A ‘Tour de Force’ on a borrowed instrument – brill!
  • Another excellent concert. Beautiful playing despite the traumatic events with harp!
  • Fantastic. I was completely lost in your fabulous music. Very brave to carry on as you did. Tremendous.
  • What a unique take on the delicate seeming instrument. 10/10.
  • One of ht best performances ever. Never heard a harp before and after that experience I love the instrument. She did so well. All I can say is ‘Amazing’.
  • Charming, very brave; very musical.
  • Superb harpist. We would not have known her difficulties from the way she played.
  • Absolutely wonderful. What a talented performer!
  • Simply amazing!
  • So impressed with the commitment Louise is showing to perform for us. Thank you.

Concert Review by Clive Davies

H is for harp… H is for heartfelt, for harmony and for sheer heroism.

All was set fair when Louise Thomson arrived at Outwood Academy, Foxhills, ready to present her programme of harp music for the Scunthorpe and North Lincolnshire Concert Society. Then calamity struck, somewhere ‘twixt cup and lip. Her treasured harp took a tumble and sustained a slender but fatal fracture of the shoulder that made the instrument simply unplayable.

The concert was in jeopardy, about to be scratched from the calendar without a note being played, until the artist riffled through her address book and secured the timely loan of a replacement instrument from a colleague on the North Bank.

The rescue harp was wheeled into the auditorium moments before the concert was due to begin… and here comes the heroism aspect. With only minimal delay, Louise Thomson delivered her programme on an unfamiliar instrument, a complete stranger to its pedals, strings and idiosyncracies, and proceeded beautifully to pluck melodious triumph from the sharp teeth of adversity.

She explained to an attentive and admiring audience that she had prepared a play-list of works that she loved especially and that demonstrated the many moods and effects of which the virtuoso harp is capable. She made her point at once, beginning with an elegant and wistful nocturne by Glinka.

If the evening disclosed the hint of a Gallic accent, that might be because French composers have shown an affinity with the organ and the harp. Thus her programme included works by Marcel Tournier, Marcel Grandjany, Fauré and, in an arrangement of her own, a Debussy Estampe with its strumming echoes of Andalusia.

Louise introduced each piece as she journeyed musically across land and water – here a Welsh dance, here a melodic line from Vienna, here a jazz band from North America and there a memorable reading of the Fantaisie on a theme from Eugene Onegin composed by Ekaterina Walter-Kühne, a piece that encouraged the harp to express all the forlorn yearning and fatal attraction of the Tchaikowsky original.

Louise’s enthusiasm was hugely informative and highly contagious. By the end of the evening it was difficult to remember that she was playing on a borrowed instrument (Incidentally, H also is for Hip-Hip Hooray for harpist Rachel Dent of Cottingham, who answered the emergency appeal with the loan of her harp.)

For all manner of reasons, not least the accomplishment and valour of the soloist, this was a memorable and wholly melodious way for concertgoers to bid a tuneful farewell to 2018.
Update from Louise: her harp is being sent back to Italy for repairs which are expected to take about 8 months.