An INTERVIEW 

with Coline-Marie Orliac                                                 by Bernhard Kerres

Chopin is best known for all the music he wrote for the piano. Why did you decide to record his music on the harp?

  

My journey into the Classical Music world began with the piano when I was 5. To this very day I remember coming home from a piano lesson holding my first Chopin piece. It was the Nocturne in C# minor, Op. Posth. I felt very special that day, I was on the path to becoming a musician.

To most of us, Chopin’s music will always remain the pinnacle of contemplation, introspection & intimacy - an intimacy that I sometimes find difficult to discern on today’s imposing pianos. The harp, however, is the salon instrument that can offer its listener a mystical palette of emotions and that is why I decided to make this album.

 

Does playing Chopin’s music on the harp require arranging it? What were your own artistic guidelines for arranging?

 

Yes and how! Chopin always kept a special place in his heart for chromaticism, the Antagonist for us harpists. But challenges are what make me wake up every day and this was a phenomenal challenge, both highly technical and musical.
My artistic guidelines were simple: respecting his harmonies, musical phrasings, emotional poetries, and making it sound as if it was “meant to be”.
And between you & I, I am quite satisfied with the result.
[smiles]

 

You also decided to record Chopin songs for your debut album. What is your personal relationship to vocal music?

 

After having lived in the States I moved to Vienna to study voice, it had been time for me to develop my very own instrument. Looking back I can say that it became a turning point in my career as it allowed me to be who I really am. It offered me this musical freedom that gave me the courage to record this album.
Today I am a harpist who sings - with her fingers, and I am truly musically fulfilled.
For actual singing, I prefer to leave that to my husband who does a much better job than I could ever do!
[laughs]

 

How do you view the repertoire written for harp? Why not stick to pieces originally written for the harp for your debut album?

 

The repertoire written for harp is lacking mainly because composers are scared to write for this instrument. Listening to CDs or concerts, one hears too often the same recurring pieces. Not sticking to the original repertoire is nothing new to me, and I believe I made it my signature when performing my graduation recital at The Curtis Institute of Music, back in 2010.
Also, doing what has been done and perhaps overdone has never been my cup of tea. Slowly, I was suffocating from the conventional harp repertoire and Chopin became my oxygen.

 

What are the next projects we can expect from you? Will you return to the original harp repertoire or continue discovering new repertoire for it?

 

More and always more discoveries to nourish the harp repertoire. I will continue to arrange, to offer a new approach to Classical Music, and I hope that one day composers will realize the incredible potential of this instrument.
But rest assured that when performing live I do enjoy throwing in a beautiful flourishing harp piece – just to remind my listeners that I do play the harp!