Strings without the bow

Sivan Magen, winner of the International Harp Competition, takes part in the Rishon Lezion Symphony's all-Spanish subscription concert series this week.

strings harp (photo credit: )
strings harp
(photo credit: )
Sivan Magen, 27, the only Israeli winner of the International Harp Competition in all the 37 years of its existence, takes part in the Rishon Lezion Symphony's all-Spanish subscription concert series this week in Rishon, Tel Aviv and Petah Tikva. Magen, now in his third year at the Julliard School of Music, has studied harp in France, "where even in a small town conservatory, one can find a lot of harp students, resulting in an extremely high level of harp playing in that country." he says. Magen himself was enthralled by the harp from childhood. What he loves most about the instrument is the wide range and richness of its expressive tools and the immediacy of the sound production: "Unlike piano or violin, here there's nothing between you and the string, not a key, nor a bow. And the harp can be not only serene, but also dramatic." Partly because of its image of a salon instrument and partly because its complicated structure (the harp has seven pedals which allow the player to change the tone), only a few top-caliber composers have written for the harp. "Yet many less-known composers wrote quite a lot, and as a result, the harp's repertoire is even wider than the general public imagines," asserts Magen. The piece he'll be performing this week, Rodgrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez for harp and orchestra "was originally written for guitar and arranged for harp by Nicanor Zabaleta, one of the most famous harp players ever, with the composer's blessing. Its first movement is very popular and has been arranged in various genres including jazz, which Chik Corea played." The Rishon Lezion Symphony program also features pieces by Chapi, De Falla, Rimsky-Korsakov, Gimenez and Chabrier. Israeli soprano Sivan Rotem participates. Enrique Garcia Asensio conducts. Reservations: (03) 948-4840.