The Harps in the Trees

The Bay Area’s multi-faceted harpist, teacher, composer, and ensemble director Cheryl Ann Fulton—one of the foremost practitioners of historical harp—was interviewed recently on Angela Mariani’s syndicated early-music program Harmonia. The interview features the soundtrack to her short documentary film The Harps in the Trees, which tells the story of a musical pilgrimage to Scotland by her ensemble Angelorum, where they visited the luthier who made their harps and played music together in the very forest where the wood for their harps was gathered. Besides discussing the film, the interview reveals Cheryl’s unsung role in the founding of Indiana’s Early Music Institute, and getting the late Thomas Binkley to Indiana—a story that is almost unknown today. An overarching theme of the film is the relationship between music, the harp, trees, and more broadly, nature and the human spirit.

“Our relationship with nature reflects our relationship with ourselves,” she says. “Trees exhale, we inhale; we exhale, trees inhale. Breath creates music. Making musical instruments from the wood of trees allows us to create inspired music. We are taking the opportunity to bring a special message of hope and harmony to the world by telling the unique story of our pilgrimage and by sharing our passion for harp music, trees and nature in this film.”

You can hear a podcast of the Harmonia interview here: https://indianapublicmedia.org/harmonia/harps-trees/

You also can see the full 14-minute film as well as a 3 minute music video, Chant for the Trees, on the Angelorum YouTube Channel:

Film: https://youtu.be/078IGSP9Cy0

Music video:  https://youtu.be/X70GkDbyzQ4

The soundtrack of the film plus some bonus tracks are available at http://magnatune.com/artists/albums/fulton-harpsinthetrees and in the iTunes store.

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Written by Jonathan Harris
San Francisco Early Music Society