Harpland/FitkinWall review – old folk melodies take flight with elemental electronic artistry


Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Cardiff
Taking the theme of migration as the connecting thread, composer Graham Fitkin and harpist Ruth Wall conjured a haunting sense of longing and loss, wringing contemporary resonance from traditional tunes

Composer Graham Fitkin and his harpist partner Ruth Wall are a quietly dynamic duo, apparently reinventing themselves with every project, yet always true to their individual musical identities while implicitly attuned each to the other.

Harpland, their new touring programme, foregrounds Wall’s playing and, with its play on heartland, specifically her Alba heritage, using old Scottish melodies and taking the theme of migration as the thought-provoking connecting thread. Peter Freeman’s light installation, like flickering candles at the front of the stage, contributed to the intimacy of the setting. Wall played three different harps – wired, electro and bray – with Fitkin presiding over the electronic input, adding background sound and manipulating it, setting up pulsing patterns with an element of sampling, complex though never intrusive.

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