Harpist Elizabeth Hainen talks aboutworld premiere

By pcurchack on January 20, 2011

We are excited to be bringing another world premiere to Philadelphia this February when Philadelphia Orchestra principal harpist Elizabeth Hainen presents Horizontes Inexplorados, a new work by Argentinean composer Esteban Benzecry. Earlier this fall, PCMS Manager Miles Cohen discussed the piece with Ms. Hainen. Following is a transcript of their conversation, which I hope will help illuminate this exciting new work.

Elizabeth Hainen

MC:  What interested you about the composer Benzecry, and had you heard his music or worked with him before?

The first time I heard Esteban's music was in Paris at the 2008 Laskine International Harp Competition, where I was an adjudicator. His piece was required repertoire, and I was immediately impressed by his dynamic style of writing for the modern pedal harp.

MC:  How would you describe/characterize Horizonte Inexplorados?

EH:  Benzecry's music is a fusion of Latin American rhythms and current European contemporary music. Each movement explores the harp as an instrument as well as exploring different forms of folk music from Central and South America. For example, the final movement sounds like a fiesta with a Mariachi band.

MC:   What has the process been like working with Benzecry as he wrote the piece  (i.e. playing through drafts, giving feedback, etc.)?

EH:  We have had a running dialogue of detailed email and eventually mp3 playbacks. One of the dilemmas is trying to make a repeated note motif more idiomatic to the harp. I have been trying various percussion effects, even a wire whisk on the bass wire strings!

Esteban Benzecry

MC:   In the process of rehearsing this piece,  what have you learned about Horizonte Inexplorados that might help audience members understand the music more?

This wonderful piece is extremely accessible to any audience. It is highly consonant, all familiar sounding chords and harmonies. At times the writing is very Minimalist, meaning a piece that works with minimal or limited components. There are also some Impressionist influences with color and sound.

MC:  What would you highlight that the audience might listen for when they come to this performance?

Listen for perpetual motion sections that might seem effortless, or repeated notes that have a rhythmic impact. These are some of the most challenging aspects of the piece.