The harp is one of the world’s oldest instruments, brought to the New World by Spanish conquistadors and Jesuit missionaries. The indigenous peoples were fascinated by the instrument. They reinvented it by using tropical woods and developing different playing techniques, and adopted it into their own culture.
But not all harps are created equal, as harpist and Keuka College President Dr. Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera will discuss during a presentation and recital Sunday, March 18. Free and open to the public, the performance begins at 3 p.m. in the College’s Norton Chapel.
Dr. Díaz-Herrera performs on the Arpa Llanera, or Venezuelan harp, and will play the music of the Colombian-Venezuelan plains (Los Llanos Colombo-Venezolanos). The program includes El Arriero arranged by J.L. Díaz-Herrera, Moliendo Café by Hugo Blanco, Como Llora una Estrella by Antonio Carrillo, Noches Larénses by Juan Ramón Barrios, Alma Llanera by Pedro Elías Gutiérrez, and several selections by Juan Vicente Torrealba, including Pasaje Número Uno; Concierto en la Llanura; Indios por la Llanura; Araguaney; Homenaje a España, Venezolana; and Barquisimeto.
Prior to the recital, Dr. Díaz-Herrera will discuss the history of the harp in the Americas. In various regions of South America and Mexico, the harp is a leading instrument in regional folk music, principally in Paraguay and the Colombo-Venezuelan plains, but also in Veracruz and Michoacán in Mexico, parts of the Peruvian and Ecuadorian Andes, Chile, Argentina, and,)to a lesser extent, in Bolivia and Uruguay.
Dr. Díaz-Herrera began playing the Venezuelan harp as a young teenager in his native Barquisimeto, the music capital of Venezuela, where he learned the basics from other harpists, built his own harp, and frequently played in the streets and for social events. Now, he plays on a traditional harp crafted in Venezuela, as well as an EC Llanera.
After moving to the United States, Dr. Díaz-Herrera performed with Pequeña Venecia, a group based in Washington, D.C. They performed in numerous venues, including the Smithsonian Museum of American History. In Rochester, he formed Son the la Loma, a group that performed until 2009. Since then, he has performed solo at a variety of venues including at the Arts Council of Rochester, the Geneva Music Festival, and GLOW Traditions at Livingston Arts, sponsored by the New York Council on the Arts.