Harps' accord with Artists Shed

A GROUP of musical refugees from the ANU School of Music have brought their unique ensemble to Queanbeyan, taking up a residency of sorts at the Queanbeyan Artists Shed in Foster Street.

On Tuesday night the seven-piece harp ensemble She played to a packed house of 120 people at the Artists Shed, a record crowd for the hybrid art gallery, studio and music venue.

On Wednesday morning the seven professional harpists flew to Beijing to play at the annual Spring gala, and will then return to their new base in Queanbeyan for further rehearsals ahead of their new Australian tour, commencing late this month.

The ensemble's artistic director Alice Giles said the group came together as a way to give her harp students at the ANU School of Music some professional ensemble performance experience. 

The musicians are all graduates now, and the ensemble has become an in-demand classical ensemble.

"We definitely found that seven harps attracts audiences and it's also a way to engage with new Australian music and showcase it to the public," Ms Giles said.

"It's quiet a powerful sound we produce ... People often think of harp music as being soft and gentle -and it can be- but it's a very powerful, rich sound we get, and very colourful in effect. There are really a lot of tonal colours you can get and it makes up a vibrant orchestral palette," she said.

The group were one of several musical collectives that recently found themselves searching for new rehearsal space following recent cuts at the ANU School of Music.

However Artists Shed musical director Tim Keeble quickly offered the musicians a temporary home at the Shed, a gesture that came at just the right time for the musicians of She.

"Tim very kindly came forward and said they could make some space at the Artists Shed. We're very grateful for that, because it's not an easy thing to find," Ms Giles said.

As for the burgeoning local music and arts venue itself, Mr Keeble said the Shed was always looking for opportunities to foster music in Queanbeyan.

"We've tried it out as a performance space, and it's pretty good for that, but it's ideal as a workshopping space. Really it's the studio space where people can create things and rehearse them and give them a bit of a dress rehearsal before taking it out more widely," he said.

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