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Wednesday, June 23 at 9 p.m. – Harp Dreams

(Rochester, NY) The best young harpists in the world spend 15 days at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington, Indiana, for the triennial USA International Harp Competition, considered one of the most prestigious classical music competitions in the world. Harpists vie for thousands of dollars in prize money, a one-of-a-kind, hand-made concert harp, premieres in New York and London and a lucrative recording contract. Harp Dreams, airing Wednesday, June 23 at 9 p.m. on WXXI-TV (DT21.1/cable 1011 and 11), follows six of the 31 contenders in this arduous competition. Actress Blythe Danner narrates.

The documentary is part performance, part interview and part slice-of-life. Emmy-award-winning filmmaker Susanne Schwibs follows competitors from their homes or schools as far away as Russia, France and Switzerland and as close as Cleveland. Among those Schwibs profiles are Mai Fukui, 20, who lives and studies in Paris; Maria Kruschevskya, 23, who lives and studies in Moscow; and Sasha Boldachev, 17, who’s from St. Petersburg and lives and studies in Zurich. In all, more than 100 hours of interview and concert footage were captured to create an exciting and poignant program.

The competition is almost inconceivably challenging. Each competitor prepares for more than two years to learn and master the difficult repertoire. Although players can be cut from the field after playing only three pieces, they must prepare 13 in all.

Harp Dreams follows competitors at every stage, up to and including the finals. The three finalists must perform a solo piece and a concerto with the Jacobs School Summer Music Festival Orchestra, led by conductor David Effron. Each finalist plays the same concerto, after which the judges make their final decision. Interviews with harpists, teachers, judges and even host families provide an in-depth look at what it takes to win a prestigious music competition.

“Very few musicians in the world can even play this music, much less play it well,” said Susann McDonald, competition organizer, harpist and teacher. “The competition is a test of artistry, but also stamina, integrity and determination.”

The program features an original score by Cary Boyce.

Pictured: Conductor David Effron leads the University Summer Festival Orchestra while Hanako Hirano performs.
Credit: Alain Barker

 

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