The Jamestown HarpFest, set for July 21-24, features two concerts with internationally known harpists, and workshops on music therapy, harp-making, harp lessons and a talk on how music supports …
The Jamestown HarpFest, set for July 21-24, features two concerts with internationally known harpists, and workshops on music therapy, harp-making, harp lessons and a talk on how music supports mental health. The idea of expanding the harp event from 2016, the last time it was in town, evolved over the past two years since the pandemic forced outgoing, active people to stay home.
Energetic people, like HarpFest organizer and Jamestown resident Charlene Heintz, looked for structure and productivity to fill their days, but many others became depressed, felt deeply isolated and suffered. For centuries humans have intentionally invoked music’s calming qualities as a means of lowering stress and quelling anxiety. When Heintz, a retired educator, rediscovered her love of the harp during this time, she noted how the impact of harp music on mental wellness so powerfully changed her that she is sharing her joy and love of the instrument this year with a series of workshops to benefit the community.
The Jamestown Arts Center and Warwick-based Bridgemark Addiction and Recovery Center are co- sponsors of this year’s HarpFest which has three aims: to inform the community about music therapy, and specifically its impact on well-being; to investigate career options in the world of music therapy and the harp as an instrument of therapy; to inspire others to learn to play the harp and to appreciate its pacifying harmonies.
With the effects of the pandemic lingering, trends in using music for calming and restorative purposes have increased. The ethereal strains of the harp have a long history of soothing the brain. Many families experience the increasing anxiety of living with a loved one overcome by addiction, stress and anxiety. Bridgemark, with over 40 years of licensed, certified experience in treating substance use disorders, offers several treatment options, one of the only programs in the country for the D/deaf and hard of hearing, and services in Spanish. Exploring how music supports the recovery process and post-traumatic stress benefits a wide spectrum of folks from the individual with the addiction, family members and the community at large.
Festival highlights include a reception and concert with Paris-based Marta Power, Syrian harpist Tamman Odeh and New Englander Grace Cloutier ¬– who all play internationally – at 7:30 p.m. July 21 at the Jamestown Arts Center. A matinee is set for 3:30 p.m. July 24. The concerts bookend presentations on harp-building by Dick Ranlet from Wickford.; the history of harps by Kathleen O’Neil, local music teacher and certified harp therapist; and harp meditation sessions by Stephanie Marisca, gong and meditation specialist and master certified life coach; and a Tai Chi session.
The festival offers a chance to learn about the history of harp music and harp construction, hear harps played with a new appreciation, and connect the dots between music and holistic health. Heintz, for one, has been enriched by bringing the harp back into her daily life. “I would love for people to feel fortified, relaxed and connected to each other, and maybe they can pick up one or two hints on how to use music differently in their lives.”
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