Louisiana harpists Patrice Fisher and Ginna Paredes traveled to Guatemala from November 17 to November 21 to continue the Guatemala Harp Teaching Project. Partial support for travel costs came from the Harping for Harmony Foundation, the Lawless family and TACA Airlines. Charlotte Rowe, a harpist in Virginia, donated another harp and supplies to the project, making a total of three harps, available for the students to use.
Patrice and Ginna gave 4 days of group classes at El Sitio Cultural Center in Antigua, Guatemala. Pascu Robredo Arrutia, the manager of El Sitio, organized the students, promotion for the project and the class schedules. Twenty one students attended the free classes. Patrice and Ginna also gave teacher training to local harp student, Brendy Escalante, so that she could help in continuing the harp teaching program.
A fund-raising concert was presented on Thursday, November 20, featuring ten professional musicians, including Colibri (guitar, voice and percussion), Terry Rubin (Flute and voice), Byron Sosa (Guitar), Paulo Alvarado (Cello, bass and vocals), Lenin Fernandez (Percussion and vocals) Moises Amaya (harp) and Carlos Munguia (drums), as well as Ginna and Patrice. The musicians donated their time to raise money for El Sitio Cultural Center. The concert also featured performances by many of the project students. The concert raised enough money to pay local teachers, Brendy Escalante and Moises Amaya, to give weekly group lessons to the local students at El Sitio for the next three and a half months.
On Friday, November 21, harpist, Ginna Paredes, traveled to the small town of San Lucas Toliman, on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala to teach. She gave another three days of harp classes to the 11 students there, concentrating not only on harp, but also on technique, theory and note reading. Ginna also taught harp maintenance, including changing strings, tying string knots and tuning. "The people there were very helpful." Ginna said. "The children were great!!!" Ginna continued on to San Salvador, El Salvador and will be giving classes and concerts there during Thanksgiving week.
Local Guatemalan carpenter Abraham Hernandez is hard at work building two more harps, based on the Musicmaker "Studio" Harp model. We hope to have these harps available in the near future for sale in the U.S. Profits from the sale of these harps will be used to support the project.
For more information about the Guatemala Harp Teaching Project, please contact Patrice Fisher. This project is sponsored by El Sitio Cultural Project, the New Orleans Chapter of the American Harp Society, TACA Airlines and the Harping for Harmony Foundation. Special thanks to Enrique Matheu, director of El Sitio. On the web: www.patricefisher.com.