Why Does the Harp Have So Many Pedals?

Guest Nancy Allen   [Website]
Episode #23
Original Air Date September 23, 2006
Nancy Allen's name is one I don't remember not knowing. Not only is she a fixture at the Aspen Music School and at the Juilliard School, at both of which I was a student from 1983-1993, but also she is now the principal harpist of the New York Philharmonic, my hometown band. When I first conceived of the premise of Dial-a-Musician, the sample question that came to mind was, "Why does a harp have so many pedals?" When I was four years old, what I really wanted to play was the harp, so I think I've held this question in for a long time. By the time I started working in radio, I already knew the answer, but it still fascinated me. When I pitched Dial-a-Musician to the folks at Classical Public Radio Network, I used this question as an example, and explained hypothetically how somebody as musically gifted and verbally talented as Nancy Allen would answer this on the air. I envisioned illustrative musical examples and a level of articulateness they must have thought I was crazy to expect. When we finally coordinated schedules with Nancy to get her on the air, I was actually giddy. It was like a vision being fulfilled. We started the interview and right away I knew it was going to be one of our best. Her examples and her descriptions were beyond even what I had hoped for, and her own obvious enthusiasm for sharing her instrument infected all of us who were listening in the studio. I can't wait for our next harp-related question!
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