Savourna Stevenson and Alfredo Ortiz


Jim Gilchrist


Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh

THIS packed Edinburgh International Harp Festival concert proved to be not just, as someone suggested, a game of two halves, but of two distinct hemispheres.

The Southern was represented by Alfredo Ortiz’s glittering excursion through the rich Spanish-Afro-Indian melting pot of Latin-American harping traditions. A meticulous yet wonderfully easeful player, he ranged through some irresistibly unfolding rhythms, strutting or meandering through luxuriant stuff that verged on Latino-baroque, or rippling with nocturne-like enchantment.

From the Andes to Tinto Hill, and some characteristically state-of-the-art Scottish harping from Savourna Stevenson, whose opening number was an exuberant flight of sitar-style cascading and funky syncopation, but who quickly returned to her Borders roots with The Source, from her suite Tweed Journey, with its spellbinding murmurs and distant chimes.

Her formidable technique encompassed the manic hoedown of Silverado Squatters, a lazy blues which erupted into bright little harmonics, African kora chirruping and a new, sweet little piece inspired by ballerina orchids which suggested the ambulatory delicacy of Erik Satie.

Then, just to underline her northern credentials, she played us The Ballad of Grey Weather – a different climatic scenario from Ortiz’s hot tropical nights, but with a beguiling languor of its own.

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