The Bridge Project was inspired by virtuoso Harpist Bridget Kibbey, who crosses boundaries and cultures with her playing. Dubbed “a Yo-Yo Ma of the harp” by The Atlantic Journal-Constitution, the description is fitting. The concert begins with Bridget’s rendition of Bach’s iconic masterpiece, the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, followed by her arrangement of two Celtic Reels.
Arnold Bax met the Irish nationalist only once, but the two immediately forged a deep fondness for one another. Pearse was executed as part of the Easter Uprising in May 1916 and Bax wrote, “So poor Pearse was shot yesterday morning… He was one of the most whole-hearted idealists that I ever met and I know that all he did was rooted in love—love for Ireland.” Bax’s In Memoriam (1916) was written in response and serves as a loving and soothing salve.
Nino Rota composed a total of 150 film scores, which include compositions for outstanding classics such as Fellini’s La dolce vita, Visconti’s Il Gattopardo, and Coppola’s The Godfather. Rota received a Grammy Award, Golden Globe, and Oscar for his work on the Godfather films. His String Quartet is a modern miniature film score with lyricism, tension, and a dramatic conclusion.
The second half of the program presents three perspectives by French composers and their use of the Harp. Saint-Saëns wrote his Fantaisie, Op. 124 while vacationing on the Italian Riviera at the age of 22. He dedicated the work to his two sisters, who played harp and violin. Demanding great fluency from both instruments, the work is a true collaboration and designed to evoke lightness and sunshine. Caplet’s Conte Fantastique is based on Poe’s story, The Masque of the Red Death. Festival audiences will be invited to read copies of the short story while listening to the performance for a multi-sensory experience.
The evening ends with Debussy’s classic Danses sacrée et profane, which was commissioned by the Harp builders Pleyel. The company had recently brought forth a newly designed harp and wanted a composition to showcase its virtues. In the initial dance, Debussy conjures an atmosphere of ancient religiosity and in the second a dance with a deeply sensual character.