Don Alder will be playing an instrument
called the harp guitar on the Beach Stage during the Harrison Festival
of the Arts. Below, Boujou Cissoko will be on the kora.
Kora. The Ngoni. The Zheng Zither. Visitors to this year's Harrison
Festival of the Arts running July 11 to 19 in beautiful Harrison Hot
Springs, BC will notice a particular type of diversity on display: an
amazing array of string instruments from around the world.
With sounds ranging from gentle to the intense, these
unique, sometimes rare and historically significant instruments, have
emerged from cultural histories in Africa, China, the Middle East, North
and South America, as well as Europe. Cultural diversity has always been
at the core of the Festival’s mandate.
Harrison Festival Society Artistic Director, Andy
Hillhouse, is very mindful to seek out international artists, but admits
his own tastes have played a part into this year’s programming. “As a
string player, my ear is drawn to music that involves interesting string
sounds and textures,” Hillhouse explains.
he knows he is not alone as there is a large fan base for this
particular family of sounds. For instance, the Malian Ngoni master
Kouyaté is someone with a broad appeal. Fans of the
blues and rocking electric guitar will appreciate him as much as
aficionados of West African music as he and his sons run their
traditional plucked Ngoni lutes through effects and play them with
virtuosic ability and soul. “In short, they rock out on this ancient
instrument,” says Hillhouse.
Also from West Africa, the now Vancouver resident
is a hereditary player of the kora, a string instrument that exists
somewhere between a lute and a harp. Audiences will also enjoy the
as they play an assortment of string instruments including the plucked
pipa and ruan, and the zheng zither. The traditional repertoire of their
homeland is intersected with other world string traditions, such as
bluegrass and Celtic music. The Persian family band
play a wide variety of historically significant
instruments from the Middle East, such as the 'oud (from which the
English word lute takes its name), the tar, ancestor to our word guitar,
and the santour, a type of hammered dulcimer.
For fans of the Western string traditions, the
Festival will also feature some bands that use string accompaniment in
beautiful and sometimes inventive arrangements to accompany song.
from Newfoundland is a deceptively simple set up - just a woman singing
with two players accompanying her on guitar, bouzouki, and sometimes
fiddle. However, the combination of her voice, one that goes right to
the soul, and the simple sound of the strings is magical. As well, the
young band The
Bombadils are on the surface a
bluegrass band with fiddle, guitar, upright bass and flute, however they
create evocative soundscapes with their arrangements to accompany their
traditional and original songs. Creating a one man
band of string textures and percussive sounds will be dazzling acoustic
who will be playing an instrument called the harp guitar.
The cross influences of musical traditions is what creates diversity
through history and continues to do so at the Harrison Festival. The
harmonies created by soft, strong or seductive strokes of these
collective and distinct strings will surely strike a chord with this
year’s Festival audiences.
Complete lineup and tickets for the 37th annual Harrison Festival of the
Arts are available online at
www.harrisonfestival.com, by phone at 604.796.3664 or
in person at the Ranger Station Art Gallery in Harrison. Early bird
pricing available until June 26.
About the Harrison Festival Society
Known worldwide for its professional artistry and small town
hospitality, the Harrison Festival Society has long been a beacon for
growing acceptance of diversity and purpose fueled programming. Each
July for more than 35 years the Society has produced the internationally
acclaimed Harrison Festival of the Arts, a nine day, cross-disciplinary,
multicultural art event set amidst the small town atmosphere and
breathtaking scenery of Harrison Hot Springs, BC. A non-profit,
grass-roots organization, the Society also presents an annual Season of
the Performing Arts from September to May and works closely with a
number of Fraser Valley partners in continuing to bring high quality,
inclusive and accessible performing arts into the area.
The Harrison Festival Society is proudly supported by the following
partners & sponsors:
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