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Maeve Gilchrist And The Aizuri Quartet Tell The Story Of "The Harpweaver" At The Big Ears Festival


Melony Dodson talks with harpist and composer, Maeve Gilchrist, violinist, Miho Saegusa, and cellist, Karen Ouzounian

Harpist and composer, Maeve Gilchrist, grew up in Scotland in a musical family. Her earliest experiences with music are rooted in traditional Scottish and Irish tunes, which accompany so many of the social events and traditions of Celtic culture. Because of this, Maeve always approached music-making with an emphasis on community and human connection, rather than on skill and ability. But she certainly isn't lacking in any of that. Gilchrist started attending the Berklee College of Music at the age of seventeen, where she met musicians from all over the world. Like a sponge, she soaked-in all of the sounds and rhythmic grooves she heard there and eventually began incorporating these influences into her own playing.

Maeve "officially" began composing in 2016, when she was commissioned to write a harp concerto. With the help and feedback of other composers and musicians, Maeve began writing more and more. For her 2020 album, The Harpweaver, Maeve found inspiration in music that would have been heard in Chicago music halls in the early 20th Century. In particular, she loved the mix of styles that one would have heard in these halls, due to the variety of cultures present in Chicago during that time. As she was discovering this music, Maeve came across a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay entitled The Harpweaver and instantly knew that this was the story she wanted to tell. Scored for harp, string quartet, voice, guitar, and spoken word, The Harpweaver is a refreshing blend of traditional-sounding Celtic melodies with fresh, contemporary harmonies played expressively by the Aizuri Quartet.

The Harpweaver will be performed at The Big Ears Festival on Saturday, April 1st at 12:45pm at The Point on 5th Ave. near downtown Knoxville. Joining Gilchrist and the Aizuri Quartet for this performance will be guitarist, Kyle Sanna.

Additional information at https://bigearsfestival.org/event/maeve-gilchrist/

Melony calls the beautiful mountains of Boone, N.C., home, although she was born near Greensboro, N.C. There’s just something about those Blue Ridge Mountains that got in her blood and never left after she moved there to attend Appalachian State University (ASU). While at ASU, she majored in piano performance and music therapy and began to cultivate a love for accompanying and for collaborating with other musicians. This soon led her to earn a master’s degree in collaborative piano at the University of Tennessee, which she attended from 2006-2008.
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