Seven Harp Ensemble

Saturday 23rd February 2019 7.45pm

THE WONDER OF SHE – YASS MUSIC CLUB. Brian Millett. 26/2/19.


In the opening concert of its  2019 subscription series  on Saturday 23rd February, the Yass Music Club was delighted to present SHE (Seven Harp Ensemble) led by Alice Giles AM, our Patron, in a stunningly beautiful program of harp music featuring seven full harps making a very dramatic statement, in situ, even before a note was played.

We were also delighted to see that Rowan Phemister was among the players and his success in his music is a validation of our continuing Scholars’ program.


On a mild Yass evening, the first piece was ‘Harp Mantras’, written especially for SHE by Australian composer, Ross Edwards, on this occasion without William Barton on the didgeridoo, but this missing element was more than made up for by a cacophony of squawks from the roosting white cockatoos around the Hall. How Aussie that was and it couldn’t have been better if it had been so planned!

‘The Meaning of Water’ by Andrew Schultz, also an Australian composer, was a masterpiece with the ripple of the harps. like water instruments full of gurglings and churnings achieving what words can’t adequately describe.

In ‘Sevenfold Amen’, Sharon Calcraft flashes into reality in the guise of a fleeting auditory “image” of cicadas singing their particularly deafening drumming and dance-like summer song with funky passages using pedal-shifts and buzzes to great effect. Calcraft also recalls a line from the African-American poet, Maxine Claire, “And choirs of cicada droned a fugue of The Seven-Fold Amen.” Somewhere in all this there is also John the Revelator exiled on Patmos  and writing the letters to the Seven Churches in Asia. The work is in two movements, Stile concitato and Adagietto Notturno.

Ross Edwards was revisited in ‘Arafura Arioso’  in a work where he attempts to link music with the  elemental forces of Nature and again refers to birdsong and the sound of summer insects.

Camille Saint-Saens’ ‘Danse Macabre’ (Dance of Death) the only non-Australian piece in SHE’s first half program where, at midnight and summoned by Old Death, skeletons escort living humans to their graves in a lively waltz until the cock crow heralds the dawn and the end of his reign.  Brilliantly arranged from the original orchestral piece by Tegan Peemoeller.

Larry Sitsky’s ‘Fantasia No 13 – Perpetuum Mobile a piece especially commissioned by the Australian Broadcasting Commission for Sitsky’s 60th birthday as a tribute to his longevity as well as to his musicianship.

At interval there was a presentation of Dr RAG Holmes Scholarships by Rotary President, Sam Bucknell to several young and talented local students including continuing Scholars – Geena Elliot – Voice/keyboard;  Becky Wright – Piano;  Niamh Kelly – Piano; Wendy Morton – Piano/guitar and new students – Tiernan Roberts – guitar and Corinne Green – Saxophone/flute and piano.

SHE donated a CD for the regular raffle and it was won by Rose. Thanks and congratulations!

A fine supper was provided by the hard working Yass Hospital Auxiliary.


Martin Wesley-Smith’s special fantasy for ‘Alice in the Garden of Live Flowers’ looked back to the other Alice in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” and its first three notes of ‘Pat-a-cake’, Pat-a-cake, Baker’s Man’ sets up the nursery rhyme flavour to the whole piece. A joyous romp through childhood.

Ian Whiteley’s ‘Rikki- Tikki’s Exotic Dance’ conjured up Kiplingesque images of the old battle between cobra and mongoose and again the astonishing range and effects of the harps was on show.

To conclude the concert, SHE gave us three thrilling South American pieces in Carlos Salzedo’s ‘Tango’ and ‘Rumba’, Alfredo Rolando Ortiz’s ‘Venezolana’ and Ernesto Lecuona’s magnificent ‘Malaguena’ to round out an amazing concert of tribute, confirming  the extraordinary range  of the  harp.

We had been treated to an unforgettable evening of delightful music!

Our next event on Saturday, 27th April will feature Kristian Chong on our Steinway piano playing music by Brahms, Liszt and Schubert in what should be an outstanding concert.



Seven Harp Ensemble (SHE) is led by Alice Giles (OAM) Co-Patron of the Yass Music Club.
SHE’s mission is to introduce Australian audiences to the harp as an ensemble instrument, promoting and supporting quality contemporary Australian music through performing and commissioning new works.
This exciting and enchanting ensemble performs a diverse repertoire: from works which are daring and progressive in their use of the seven harps, to audience favorites which are bound to captivate and delight.
The group will include Rowan Phemister who was a RAG Holmes Scholar