CATRIN FINCH: The harpist who is adding new strings to her bow – by Adam Sweeting

For all its delightful and ethereal tinkliness, the harp suffers from something of an identity crisis. It lacks the versatility of the piano or the piercing qualities of the violin, let alone the brute force of the brass, so if it isn’t careful it can find itself relegated to a soothing, background role. Catrin Finch is well aware of the hurdles the harpist must surmount.

“It’s true that the harp doesn’t get very loud, though the modern harps I play on are capable of a lot more,” she reflects. “But the harp has suffered over the years, and it only became a chromatic instrument” – which means it can play a lot more notes – “at the turn of the last century. Although it’s an old instrument, it’s quite a recent developer, and the best harps are the brand new ones.”

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