Saturday, February 24, 2018

Local harpist Josh Layne keeps busy with orchestra and without

October 18, 2017 by Ben McFee, contributing writer

Solo harpist Josh Layne is no stranger to performing with the Victoria Chamber Orchestra. His first time with them was in 1995, performing Claude Debussy’s harp concerto Danse Sacrée et Danse Profane. It features a powerful use of solo harp, which gave Layne plenty of opportunity to shine. However, working in an orchestral setting involves more than solo work. Some pieces in the orchestra’s repertoire—such as Ralph Vaughn Williams’s Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus—require more of a background role, Layne says.

“That’s fun because of that experience of making music with so many people, and trying to blend in, to make that sound,” he says. “It’s such a different thing to be practicing at home and then playing in front of people, because there’s that energy.”

Layne stresses that the experience of seeing a live orchestra cannot be overstated.

Local harpist Josh Layne is performing two concerts in town this month (photo by Noah Layne).

“You really get to experience that amazing sound that a classical orchestra can produce,” he says, “that you just don’t get when listening on earbuds, let’s say.”

The sound of a live harp is undeniable. It is, however, an instrument not often seen in orchestras; Layne says that this has its good and bad sides for a professional musician.

“It’s a much more unusual instrument,” he says. “There’s not as much competition, and I think people respond to the harp in part because you don’t get a chance to hear it as often. On the flip side of that, if your goal is to be an orchestral player, typically there’s only one harp position available, as opposed to quite a few violins.”

Layne says that young artists looking to get their name out there need to realize that the landscape has changed.

“Look into YouTube. Look at the electronic landscape that we live in,” he says. “And I think it’s very helpful to get involved in a number of different things.”

The Victoria Chamber Orchestra
8 pm Friday, October 20
$15 for students, First Church of Christ, 1205 Pandora Avenue

Josh Layne
2:30 pm Saturday, October 28
By donation, St. Luke Cedar Hill Church

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