Go and do

WHO: Harpist Deborah Henson-Conant

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday, July 12

WHERE: Celebration Barn Theatre, 190 Stock Farm Road, Paris

TICKETS: $20 for adults, $16 for seniors and children

BOX OFFICE: 743-8452

Concert or theater? Grammy-nominated harpist blends the two with her revolutionary style

PARIS – Deborah Henson-Conant straps on her harp like an electric guitar and strides onto the stage like a rock musician. What comes next are performances that blur the line between concert and theatrical event.

But the Grammy-nominated performer, composer and songwriter wasn’t always this way. It was through her studies with Maine performer Tony Montanaro at the Celebration Barn in Paris that she made the move from a more traditional harpist to the revolutionary player she is today.

Henson-Conant will bring that revolutionary style to a new generation of players when she returns to the Celebration Barn as a teacher. Her weeklong performance workshop July 7-12 will culminate in a public performance July 12. (Last year’s show sold out). The show will also showcase the talents of Henson-Conant’s summer workshop students, dubbed “The Harpbreakers.”

Henson-Conant’s playing ranges from full-out bluesy to heart-wrenching ballad. All her performances blend music with theatrical storytelling and her quirky brand of humor. This year, she returns to Celebration Barn with a new carbon fiber harp designed and developed by the CAMAC harp company, which provides cutting-edge artists with cutting-edge instruments. The company chose Henson-Conant to represent its new instrument worldwide.

Her signature model “harp” is completely different than the classical instruments used in orchestras. Hers is a portable model made of carbon fiber, worn with a harness, and it uses standard guitar effects pedals. The new instrument, built from the same material used for racing bikes, cost nearly $100,000 to develop.

The 3-inch-wide, 13-pound frame anchors 32 carbon fiber strings, each individually amplified with a crystal piezo pickup and pitch bend lever. The custom blue flame design was created by French airbrush artist Erwan Robert.

Henson-Conant has toured with the Boston Pops,opened for Ray Charles at Tanglewood, jammed onstage with Bobby McFerrin and offstage with Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler. She has been featured on shows from CBS’ “Sunday Morning” and NBC’s “Today Show” to NPR’s “Weekend Edition” and the Food Network’s “Warped.”

Her own televised music special, “Invention & Alchemy,” has aired on PBS stations throughout the United States and the companion CD received a Grammy nomination.

To register for the workshop, log on to www.CelebrationBarn.com.


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