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New York, New York


A New York harpist trying to figure things out - and the mishaps and adventures that inevitably ensue.

My First GroupMuse

Kathryn Sloat

Since I went to a house concert last week, I thought I'd go to another one this week - you know, just to change it up! This one was organized by something called GroupMuse, which is a website that connects musicians to people who want to host concerts in their homes. I'm hoping to perform in a GroupMuse house concert myself in the next few months, so I thought it would be a good idea to go to one and just check it out. It seems fairly easy to put together - musicians and hosts can create profiles on the website (, and from there they can contact each other to set up concerts. 

The concert that I went to featured harpist Mia Theodoratus (I keep wanting to type Mia Thermopolis - Princess Diaries, anyone??) performing a solo program. She started out playing the Handel concerto, which was great. I get so sick of hearing myself play it (auditioning harpists, amiright?) that it was nice to sit back and just enjoy listening to it for once. The first half concluded with a piece by the Irish harper Turlough O'Carolan. I remember playing a lot of O'Carolan tunes when I was just starting to learn the instrument, and Mia's performance really made me think that his music deserves more than to just be shunted into the beginner, folk harp category. Note to self: Go back and play some more O'Carolan. 

Mia Theodoratus playing Handel's B-flat Concerto
Mia Theodoratus playing Handel's B-flat Concerto

The second half got a little bit....different. Before she started, Mia encouraged us to get comfortable, even to lie down on the ground and stare up at the sky. Everything she played next fell into the genre of minimalist music - John Cage's In a Landscape, Carlos Salzedo's Fraicheur (or Zephyrs), and a piece of her own composition called Nymphs. Although I was sitting in a chair and there was no room left on the ground, I slouched down and stared at the flowers in the garden and up at the sky. The audience fell into a trance, and there was no applause or even a peep from us until the end. It was wonderfully relaxing. 

The audience contemplating the sky to John Cage's In a Landscape
The audience contemplating the sky to John Cage's In a Landscape

I felt a little weird showing up to this concert by myself. Most of the audience seemed to all be in the same social circle as the host, and I was the awkward kid sitting by myself at the party. However, I made a friend in a woman who was hosting her own first GroupMuse concert in a few days, and also wanted to check it out first. Although she's not a musician, she was incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic about classical music, and we spent the intermission discussing our favorite opera experiences in the city. It's great that even sitting by yourself in a corner, you can find people to connect with.