Last night, I met the President of Paraguay
Updated: Oct 11
The opening night of the Global World Harp Festival in Paraguay
somewhere a few blocks away, the city was on fire.
Fires and storms.
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 ....
claps and cheers
Louder cheers and whoops
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
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 follow....to celebrate my 30 years, of devotion to breaking new ground.
My Harp Cup is full ..........
Good times in Paraguay