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March 16, 2010, 7:00 PM

An Ancient Stringed Instrument Reborn: The Angular Harp

Music Performance & Discussion
Participants: Stephanie Chase, Bo Lawegren, Tomoko Sugawara

The angular harp first appeared in Mesopotamia in 2000 BCE, soon journeyed to the Near East, and eventually reached Egypt, Greece, China and Japan. The Eastern infatuation lasted only until 1100. Meanwhile, harps remained popular in Iran and then spread to the Islamic world. Harpist Tomoko Sugawara and Bo Lawergren, a physicist and researcher of ancient musical instruments, present a slide-lecture on the history of the instrument, along with performances of selections from its ancient and modern repertoire. The oldest repertoire comes from the eras and places where the instrument flourished, including the Chinese Tang Dynasty, medieval Persia and Spain. In recent times, composers from the US, Japan, and Iran have written notable music for the angular harp.

Stephanie Chase is a violinist who has performed as soloist with many of the world's leading orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, and Hong Kong Philharmonic. She is also Artistic Director and co-founder of the Music of the Spheres Society, which is dedicated to exploring the links between music, philosophy, and the sciences. She teaches violin at New York University's Steinhardt School. In her spare time, she writes music arrangements and studies Stradivari violins. In late May 2008 she performed one of her signature works, Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, in Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall.

Bo Lawergren is a Professor Emeritus of Physics at Hunter College, The City University of New York. He is also a cellist, musicologist, and composer whose works have been performed at numerous American universities. In addition Lawergren is a researcher in musical acoustics and musical archaeology. His numerous publications include entries on ancient music for the latest editions of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart,The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt, and Encyclopedia Iranica.

Tomoko Sugawara was born in Japan, where she studied Irish and Concert harp. She has performed widely on the latter instrument and recorded a best-selling CD, Spring. In 1991 she took up the Kugo, the Japanese version of the very ancient Angular Harp, which flourished from 1900 B.C. to 1700 A.D. She is now the leading kugo player and is about to release the first CD with it as a solo instrument, Along the Silk Road. She has also researched its history and ancient performing technique, and established a repertoire for the instrument.

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.


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