Joining other harpists of all ages for the harp retreat in May was such a wonderful experience for me, from the picturesque location at Whatipu, to having my musical ability pushed beyond what I thought my limits were though both the smaller group lessons, larger ensemble playing, and everything in between. A definite hi-light for me was walking through the bush, small harps in tow, to play in the caves nearby, sound enveloping in the half-light, as we learnt the basics of simple improvisation. I'm so grateful to everyone who made it possible, and such a fun weekend to be a part of. Meeting and being around other harpists for an intensive few days was magical, and I came away filled with inspiration and enthusiasm for music and our beautiful instruments. Nadia (adult!)
Harp retreat was an amazing experience that I would strongly encourage all harpists, regardless of ability, to attend. Over the course of the weekend, I learnt over four new pieces, including two which I have since been able to polish to use for my exam. However, it was a very fun atmosphere with lots of group 'jam' sessions, ensemble playing, and meeting new like-minded harpists. There were also many trips to the beach and playing the harps in the caves which was something that I had never done before but sounded incredible. I had a fantastic time and am trying to convince Anna to run it every year! Mikaele (teen!)
The harp retreat was a new experience for me as a beginner harpist. It was great to have the chance to improve my skills at my own level as well as playing in an ensemble with more experienced players.
The choice of music we learned was interesting and varied, and gave us an opportunity to try pieces that were above our standard, in a non-judgemental environment.
Whatipu was a magical setting. That is could also accommodate family members that weren’t harpists was great. Playing in the cave was a highlight.
It was a wonderful weekend for the young, and the young at heart. Libby (adult!)
I confess to having felt quite nervous prior to arriving at Whatipu for this year's Harp retreat. As an adult learner with little time for formal lessons or playing with other harpists, I worried that I wouldn't be able to keep up. I needn't have worried, of course. Anna had developed a programme that suited all levels of ability, and after playing a few pieces together on the Friday night I really started to relax and enjoy myself.
I had been able to attend a couple of beginner ensemble (BegEnz) practices over the previous couple of months and this definitely helped prepare me for playing with a larger group. However when I heard 30 harpists playing together over the weekend, and realised that I was one of them, it gave me such a boost of confidence and pleasure. It was also valuable to learn from other participants, from tuning tips to helpful suggestions about reading music.
The venue at the Whatipu Lodge is an old favourite of mine, having been a 'Westie' for well over a decade now. Such a peaceful, inspiring location...and playing harps in the cave was definitely a highlight of the weekend. If the Harp Retreat continues to grow in popularity, we will definitely need a bigger venue to play in. Lynx (adult!)
This year Harp Retreat was enjoyable because it was more of a fun weekend to be part of as there was not the pressure of a concert. I liked the venue because It seemed like it was just us and it was far away from everything but close to the beach. The workshops were fun even though some pieces were challenging but I enjoyed playing them and I was pleased to learn new tunes. The ensemble was easy to follow and I could listen to us all playing.
The cave music was entertaining and I particularly found it intriguing to explore the surrounding caves. The labyrinth brought a serious mood and was also a nice break from playing the harp. It was very easy to make new friends and to have fun with them because everyone was close by and very nice. The meals were a great part of the retreat! Overall I really enjoyed the Harp Retreat and would definitely do it again. Luc-Aime (teen!)
Whenever I try to pinpoint what makes events like the Harp Retreat such a fantastic experience, I always end up thinking the same sort of things – the most beneficial part is the contact with other harpists. Harp Retreat was an opportunity to meet other harpists, hear them play, enjoy the sound of many harps blending their voices, and most of all to observe what others could do. Hearing more advanced harpists play is invaluable and always inspires me to new goals and ambitions. The tutors at this year’s Harp Retreat were great and certainly gave my aspirations a kick-start, and the whole weekend was so much fun besides! Have you ever improvised harp music in a sea cave before? I have! Looking forward to the next one…! Wendy (adult!)
I’m new to NZ and to the harp scene and the Harp Retreat was fun as I had the chance to meet a lot of new people, of different ages and different levels which was really cool. The group lessons were fun and I learnt a lot. There was not too much pressure – if I made a mistake, I could stop, listen, and jump back in again when I found the tune again. I don’t really read much music, so I learnt a lot from the repeated playing of the tunes. The other teen harp players were friendly and there was harp music all the time! Cybella (teen!)
We had such a wonderful time at the Harp retreat, I just want to thank you again. The setting was wonderful out there in the wild but still tucked away safely like a little village. I loved the walk through the nature and then arriving at the caves and hearing that acoustic of the caves when all the harps started playing. Just magic.
Thanks for letting us be a part of this event I think Tabea really got a kick out of it - she is now practicing more often like she sees another purpose and has experienced the sound of the harps all around her which is an amazing feeling. Trixi (Mum of harpist)
Best parts for me were being with others who love harping – all at different levels – all welcoming and helpful. Playing together – the poignant musical story of the Nightingale (DHC) and its beauty, playing it together, and finding that with much harp music there are levels to suit everyone including a beginner like me. The walk to the cave with the waves crashing nearby and then the spontaneous music happening. Great food and conversation with interesting people of all ages and backgrounds. Amazing location for someone immersed in the city – the wild and wonderful west indeed. Memorable and definitely repeatable please! Denise (adult!)
My favourite part????? The family jam at the debut of the Pyjama Harpers evening..... watching mums and dads, brothers and sisters, all cram on to one family harp to try and play Frere Jacques as a round. Seen here in the photo .... Lucy (harpist) with Mum, Dad and brother on her 26 string harp - having a great time!!!! Anna (organiser)