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Last night, I met the President of Paraguay

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

The opening night of the Global World Harp Festival in Paraguay

somewhere a few blocks away, the city was on fire.

Fires and storms.

Weather warnings.

But none of that mattered

A heightened anticipation that seemed to hang in the air over Asuncion....

It was time!

The People of Asuncion qued for what seemed like miles and waited for the wooden doors of Theatre Munciple to open ....

Everyone was seated ....

A hush

A welcome

claps and cheers

more welcomes

Louder cheers and whoops

then .........


Gillizallions of harps exploded like firecrackers on to that stage

and it was the gift that kept giving for 3 nights

Mostly Paraguyan, mostly men. But women too. Old and young - everyone plays harp

Masters with a strong rhythmic style and mind-blowing technique

A joyful spirit radiated from the artists and the audience

It was wild!

The atmosphere in the Theater Munciple was ELECTRIC

Everything imaginable happened on those harps

I Have never experienced anything quite like it

The old wooden theatre is so beautiful

Many exceptional artists of every description

with one thing in common.....


Over the next 3 nights everything you could imagine unfolded on that stage.

Unbelievable skill, mastery and stamina on display and the harp played so beautifully by so many

The audience went on a roller coaster with the artists

Shouting, whooping, clapping, gasping, Oohhs and ahhhs.....

Periodic sporadic clap alongs.....Lots of them.

Cheering, Standing ovations

So dramatic

Now I was not around in Shakespeare's day but that is the only thing I can think of to compare it to.

There is raw energy and enthusiasm and a joy that comes with the people of Paraguay and their music

The Paraguayans LOVE their harps

The harpers love their harps, The people love the harpers

even the sound techs play the harp.

Even the president of Paraguay ....loves harps

There are harps EVERYWHERE in Paraguay

The musicians are revered and honoured and could be seen on the last night walking around with bunches of flowers. The instrument has great cultural value and is so respected.

Of course, I did not understand one word anyone said

but that didn't matter.

Listen Smile Sway Listen Laugh Observe and ....Clap along

The audience's appetite was insatiable and they knew how to express that.

On the third night, there was a heavy military presence as we approached Theatre Munciple

Reminded me of Falls Road in the 80s

with no tanks, but Soldiers with guns and police

I had a familiar feeling of dread mixed with excitement

What was happening?

Why the security?

Then the red carpet

We were greeted by the minister of culture and ushered to our seats

The president, Santiago Pena and his wife arrived and joined the artists on stage to hand out the 12 awards

On the way back down from the stage. He was introduced to our group.

I introduced as a guest, harpist from

Irelanda del Norte

we shook hands

Now I was NOT expecting that

The night exploded and for the next 5 hours, it was harptastic. We rollercoastered our way through the melodies and rhythms with joy in heart and soul.

always on to the after venue for more............

I spent all day today playing my harp in the garden

It was a bucket list dream to visit this festival.

Until this week I had never even met a Paraguayan Harper and now I feel like I met them all.

It was the chance to meet the maker of my Harps, Gustavo Arias. Full of gratitude to Gustavo for making such great harps and extending the invitation to the festival.

Also looking out for me during my stay.

My hybrid style came from my celtic roots and one VHS tape that Bill Morgan posted from London with the tune Tres de Mayo. This formed the basis of my style

I have played the Paraguayan harp for nearly 30 years and this festival was my bucket list dream.

I have never had a lesson on the harp and I gigged all summer to save enough to cover expenses

A big shout out to Help Musicians for helping me make the trip possible with the many flights and for the mentorship that will celebrate my 30 years, of devotion to breaking new ground.

My Harp Cup is full ..........

Good times in Paraguay

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