Sultan of a different string: Joost Willemze talks about his journey as a harpist

Bengaluru-based Indian Music Experience Museum (IME) will be hosting an online session with Dutch harpist Joost Willemze

Pop culture has conditioned us to think of harps and chubby, little cherubs together — not many music stores in India stock harps in the string section. An upcoming online session with Dutch harpist Joost Willemze, hosted by Bengaluru-based Indian Music Experience Museum (IME) on September 25 could serve as an introduction to the instrument.

Joost Willemze, however, believes his initiation to the world of harps was meant to be. “It was Open Day at a music school in my home town; instruments were arranged in every room for the benefit of visitors. The very first room I entered had harps of different shapes and sizes. I picked one up, registered for the course and never looked back. I was seven years old,” says Joost, adding, “By the age of 11, I had progressed to playing a pedal harp which is bigger and more complex as it allows for changes in pitch and can play pieces written in any key.”

Today, Joost (25) has performed all over the world including the Schiermonikoog Festival, the Rio Harp Festival in Brazil and for the Italian minister of Culture and Education in Rome, apart from his regular appearances with Patrick van der Linden’s Ars Musica, as an orchestra musician.

As with any instrument, passion alone is not enough if one wants to excel. “One has to practice regularly,” he says, admitting there were times as child when he did not feel like. Despite that, Joost says four to five hours of daily practice should suffice. “Any more time than that questions the ‘quality’ of your practice. Those who say they practice for six hours or more are just playing music.”

Talking about his upcoming session with IME, Joost says, “The idea is to engage as many people who could be interested in this instrument without making it too technical or specific. This way, a wider audience can be a part of the session, especially first timers.”

“Though I have never visited India I would love to someday. The Dutch embassy in India contacted me for this event and made it possible for me to collaborate with IME.” The session is part of IME’s initiative to foster partnerships between Indian artistes with international counterparts in areas of culture, visual and performing arts and sustainable urban environments.

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