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The Harp and it's presence in Asturias- Part Two- , Spain, by Daniel García de la Cuesta


The Harp and it's presence in Asturies by Daniel García del Cuesta.

The instrument has a long history throughout the world, but it not always had the same shape or number of strings. It is in the Sumerian civilization where we may find the oldest references to instruments similar in type to the harp. In Asturias, Spain, probably the first representation of such an instrument is found in the Romanesque church of Santiago Arllós, Llanera.
Another depiction of a harp, or broken-psalterium, is found in the Romanesque church of San Salvador Huentes, Villaviciosa.
Since th
e 15th century in the Cathedral of Oviedo, we find the figure of a centaur playing the harp. In the Cathedral there are also other representations of harpists.
At the church of Carbayu in Ciañu, 18th century, we see the figure of King David playing a harp.

As for the texts that refer documentations on harpists in Asturias, we have data about the existence of musicians associated with the orchestra of the Holy Cathedral Church of Oviedo. The first data of a Harpist dates from 1654 when Matilla de Arce is admitted. Between the years 1654 and 1734, about 80 years, 18 Harpists had relationship with the orchestra, plus others not listed but which are mentione
d and I guess there might have existed a larger number of them.
As I quoted on the preceding post, thanks to the knowledge of the existence of an ancient harp kept in an Asturian convent in Spain, I began to investigate the presence and use of the harp in Asturian territory. All the pieces seem to be original, but little more is known about them. It is suppose to be about 200 years old.
We find more references regarding the XIX Century by the writer Armando Palacio Valdés, who recounts that he gave shelter at his home to a violinist and a Harpist. With these musicians some festivals were held in the winery next to the barrels of cider. This is not the only popular reference about the employment of the harp.
In addition to the field of symphony orchestras, around 1980, the folk harp began to be included by folk based bands like Trasgu and Beleño in Asturias, Spain, as part of the celtic folk revival.
Currently in the folk group LLiberdón, to which I belong.I also play this instrument, like also does the group LLangres.
The Galician Harpist Rodrigo Romani, or the Breton Myrdhin, participated as instructors in various courses to be organized in Gijón, Asturias, in recent years.
We might assure that 2003 was the year of the recovery of the harp in Asturies, as well as other activities. The Galician musician Xabier Gomez began to teach at Gijón in the School of Traditional Music of Quintana, thus which further strengthens the presence of the instrument. We will see ahead the future. If anyone wants to contact me to discuss something on the subject, feel free to write to this e-mail address: dagarcues@yahoo.es
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