Harpist offers workshop, concert to Prince George

Years ago, Canadian harpist and composer Sharlene Wallace was firmly ensconced in her classically trained musicality when she realized she needed a shakeup.

The burnt-out Ontario performer searched - and found - the creative avenue she needed to start a more adventurous musical journey.

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She read about a folk harp retreat in the mountains of British Columbia almost 30 years ago.

That's when she visited Wells and the artistic community she found there set her on a new path of creating her own music.

On Saturday, Wallace will be presenting a Journey of Shadows workshop at the Prince George Conservatory of Music with a concert at Trinity United Church.

The events are hosted by the Prince George Conservatory of Music and Island Mountain Arts.

The workshop is set for 1 to 4 p.m., with the concert taking place at 7:30 p.m.

"I'm catering the workshop to the harp community who is already in Prince George," Wallace said.

"And it's so awesome there is a harp community in Prince George."

The workshop is suitable for beginner and intermediate levels.

"I'm going to go in with a little bit of improvisation, knowledge about technique and one of the things about harp is called left-hand patterns so in the folk-harp world there's this lovely tradition of improvising and arranging and composing but I'm going to be able to give them some ideas about arranging which includes these left-hand patterns. That way they'll know what to do with their left hand if, say, they're met with a fiddle tune - or just a tune that they really love - Celtic or classical - whatever it is."

There is so little harp music out there, she said, and the workshop offers the opportunity for the players to actually arrange whatever music they want. It will give the musicians a chance to explore their creativity.

"That's kind of what learning the folk harp gave me - this wide open world where whatever music you want you can adapt it for your harp," Wallace said. "So I'm going to give them ideas about that and I'm going to leave them with one of my pieces that they can learn if they wish."

Wallace will prepare the piece so it's suitable for two different levels so both the beginners and intermediates can use it, with emphasis on left-hand patterns that are within the piece.

She will also showcase a bit of Latin music to offer a unique flavour to the workshop.

"I'm really looking forward to working with the harp community - I know a few people in the Prince George harp gaggle but I'm looking forward to meeting the whole group."

Wallace is the winner of two international harp competitions, performs, records and teaches on both Celtic and classical harps, tours with bass player George Koller, the Christmas ensemble Harp & Holly and the Soaring Harp Trio. Wallace has seven CDs that explore rhythm, spaciousness, the Canadian landscape, classical, Celtic, South American and original music. Wallace teaches both Celtic and classical harps privately and at York, Guelph and Wilfred Laurier Universities. Her own harp performance degree is from the University of Toronto where she studied with the eminent Judy Loman. Wallace is principal harpist with Kingston, Guelph and Oakville Symphonies.

During the concert, she will showcase mostly her own compositions, along with a few pieces from Alfredo Rolando Ortiz, a world-reknown harpist. There will also be a couple of Celtic tunes, Wallace added.

"I'm looking forward to meeting more members of the Prince George music community," she said.

For details and registration for the workshop contact Shoshanna Godber at 250-640-8615 or sdgodber@gmail.com.

Tickets for the concert are $20 at the door of Trinity United Church, 3555 Fifth Ave.

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