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“Baroque Flamenco” is one of my most fiery & dramatic pieces that’s the dramatic finale of PBS music special “Invention & Alchemy” and the 3rd movement of my concerto “Soñando en Español.” (Read about the piece in this blog).  Now the piece is in the hands of many other harpists …

(Sign up for the next hands-on workshop)


In 2008 I arranged “Baroque Flamenco” for other harpists to play, and instead of just making a single arrangement, I created 3 arrangments: one for beginners, one for intermediate players, and the concert version I play, myself, for advanced players.  All the versions are playable on concert harp, and the beginning & intermediate versions are also playable on the lever harp (also called “Folk Harp” or “Celtic Harp.”  You can see both concerts harps and lever harps – the blue one, and the one I’m playing – in the photo below)

Workshop with DHC

Hands-On Workshop with DHC

So now harpists all over the world are playing this piece.  But to really play the piece – to bring it aliveyou need to not just play the notes, but also play the “character” of the piece — and that’s the kind of thing you can’t pass on via written notes.  

So I created a hands-on workshop specifically for learning how to express the character of the piece  — which is both the simplest, and the hardest part of the music.

To work on that, we use a simplified version of the piece, so that players on all levels, from beginning to advance, can work together at the same time. Interestingly, it’s often the less advanced players who have an easier time connecting with the ‘character’ of the piece, so working together in a multi-level environment is useful to everyone.

For that same reason, I invite any advanced players  to present a brief section of the piece during short “Master Class” interludes, so that the entire class can learn from watching these short one-on-one sessions (which are also a nice break from the playing … well, for everyone except the ones presenting!).

By  the end of the evening, everyone knows how to ‘get this piece across’ to an audience, regardless of their skill level, and they can then take that understanding and apply it to whatever level of the piece they’re working on. They also get my tips on practice techniques for Baroque Flamenco and ideas for developing their own unique performances of the piece.

I love sharing this in person because as a composer I have a limited language through just written notes – but when I can be in the same room with you, and show you exactly what I mean, musically, you’re getting all the music, not just the notes.  You get to literally look over my shoulder.  You get to experience the passion of the piece – you get the living music and then you become part of the life of that piece.

THE NEXT HANDS-ON “BAROQUE FLAMENCO” WORKSHOP:  is Fri. Sept. 30 at Kolacny Music in Denver, CO.   Get more info or sign up here.

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My neighbor, Betsy, recently sent out a neighborhood bulletin asking for “occupational clothing.” Betsy’s teaching a course called “Social Change in Action” at Boston College and the clothing was part of the students’ field work.

Lab Coats Double in Musical Theater and Guerrilla Theater

Lab Coats Double in Musical Theater and Guerrilla Theater

I just happened to have 20 lab coats left over from the filming of my DVD “Invention & Alchemy” so Betsy took them for their next theatrical mission – this time Guerrilla theater.

This week, Betsy sent me photos of the lab coats with this note proving, once again, that dressing for success may look different … or oddly similar … in different circumstances:

“Dear Deborah, the lab coats were successful!

The group of 17 Boston College students in a Social Change in Action course, calling themselves Student Allies for Vocational Experience (SAVE), set a goal of reversing last year’s $4 million state budget cut in two career internship programs for low-income high school students. They marched on the State House, where they did street theater, wearing borrowed occupational costumes including the infamous “Invention & Alchemy” lab coats, lobbied every senator and delivered petition signatures. The Senate Ways and Means actually put in a small increase ($100K) in its proposed budget for one of the programs, even though they cut or level-funded most programs due to the budget crisis. Not a big increase, but the House budget proposal cuts the programs even more, and that’s what we expected from the Senate too, so even level-funding is a victory.

And I do think their sincere pleading may have won the $100,000 increase. I promised them extra credit for the course if they won any increase, so everyone’s grade was bumped up one notch when the Senate W&M budget came out on Wednesday.   I’ll return the lab coats next week. Thanks! — Betsy.”

I wonder what the lab coats’ next mission will be.

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