REVIEW: Frances Kelly at Funtington Music Group

The Funtington Music Group opened its Autumn Season on 12 September at the University of Chichester with internationally renowned Harpist Frances Kelly giving a fascinating lecture recital on the History of the Harp.

Tuesday, 18th September 2018, 8:47 am
Updated Tuesday, 18th September 2018, 8:53 am

Frances Kelly’s beautiful introductory piece was La Source, written by Alfonse Hasselmans, a significant French musician, who had done so much to encourage the development of the harp as a popular musical instrument. In her performance, Frances evocatively created the traditional sound of the harp, of running, bubbly water, a sound which was both timeless and magical. She then went on to show how diverse and subtle was the span of historical development for the harp from its prehistoric beginnings up to the present day, next creating sounds reminiscent of Tudor England on her Medieval Harp.

Turning then to the Spanish Harp, she played a copy of a harp first built in 1615. The sound had now become fuller and richer, and was not too dissimilar to the Italian Harp of the same period which followed. She noted that these instruments suited the music of the time, music that was played both at court and at church.

The first half ended with Frances Kelly turning to the Wire-strung Harp, which was popular at the time in Ireland and Scotland. Her rendition of Turlough O’Carolan’s Welcome, and Concerto was an example of her impressive ability to blend and colour the music and in this case to create the atmospheric mystery of Ireland.

She then went on to play on the Welsh Triple Harp [still popular in Wales today] pieces from Concerto No 4 and Saul by Handel, before choosing the Single Action Pedal Harp, which became standardised in the 1720s.

Finally she moved to the Double Action Pedal Harp which is in current use everywhere. She noted that it was patented in the early 19th Century and it had not really changed since then. The two pieces she chose to play on this instrument were in complete contrast to each other. Chanson dans la Nuit, by Carlos Salzado, brought us right into the mid-20th Century, but she ended the concert with a delightful performance of Impromptu by Faure.

Frances Kelly is an accomplished lecturer as well as an impressive musician. She sees beyond the notes and creates instinctively, and apparently effortlessly, what the composer had in mind. As Chris Hough, Chairman of the Funtington Music Group, said, “This was a very special concert. Frances Kelly showed fine musicianship and gave us so many insights into the music for the harp. It was wonderful to hear so many different instruments!”

Further details of the Funtington Music Group can be obtained from the Membership Secretary, Mrs Elizabeth Brooks, on 01 243 378900.