Growing up in Charleston and experiencing the Spoleto Festival over the years helped international award-winning harpist Abigail Kent understand what was possible in the performing arts world. .
“Seeing so many world-class productions and performances coming to my town made me realize the variety of possibilities and how limitless the options for creative output are.” Kent said. city paper.
She will take the stage at downtown’s Second Presbyterian Church for a free concert on January 20th at 6pm as part of the Charleston Academy of Music’s Rush Hour Concert Series.
“I play both classical harp and traditional Celtic harp, play different types of music, and bridge the gaps that people may have between them,” she said.
Kent said the inspiration for the upcoming concert comes from the ancient Irish notion that a true harper could convey any tension or style to create a special response in the listener.
“I explore a variety of themes: dance, mourning, grief, and transformation. A bundle of different ubiquitous human experiences.”
Over the past decade, Kent has studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London, the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and the Mannes Institute of Music in New York City. She plans to complete her PhD in Musical Arts at the Juilliard School in May. In addition to the harp and piano, Kent has played the cello, the tenor, the banjo, the mandolin, the penny, the whistle, and the bodin (Irish drum).
“I started classical harp a little later than other students, so I’m glad I spent a lot of time as a student. [when] I was 15,” she said. “Now I am ready to go all out as a performer and as a teacher.”
She is currently Adjunct Professor of Harp at the University of Charleston School of Music and Principal Harpist of the Hilton Head Orchestra.
“At first, I didn’t feel like the pedal harp was exactly ‘me,'” said Kent. “I never thought this instrument had a place for me. But I started learning it and was like, ‘Oh, this is really cool. It’s like a great puzzle piece. The more I saw different harpists, the more I realized there was more than one way to play this instrument, and there was space for me to be authentic.
Kent, who has played instruments for a wide variety of audiences for most of his life, affirms that the harp contributes as powerfully to orchestral composition as the piano or violin.
“The harp is seen as a gender-based instrument. It’s very feminine, an instrument played only by women,” said Kent. “Especially in the world of professional music, this image of the harp as a female instrument creates the idea that the harp is a softer instrument. No. You can literally make great music with any instrument.”
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