Shawn L. Bird

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harping in Mexico January 6, 2011

Filed under: Commentary — Shawn L. Bird @ 3:38 am
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Guatalupe Torres

I had the privilege to listen to and to meet a talented Mexican harpist last week.  He is Guadalupe Torres and he performs regularly at XCaret in Riviera Maya.  XCaret is a destination park that offers all sorts of snap shots of Mexican history, flora, fauna, and music.  I think Sr Torres’ hour long concert in the Orchid Cafe was the highlight of my week in Mexico.  Because I didn’t want to sit in the cafe (I didn’t have any money to buy even a coffee) I stood near his playing platform and watched up close as he played.  (Nothing too intense, having someone stare at you from 2 feet away while you play!)  Torres was not amplified and the cafe was very loud, so I think I may have been the only one who could hear anything at all.

He has a repertoire of tunes that ranged from Latin to classsical to pop. His touch is light and sure.  He played what I would call a Paraguayan harp. but which his CD calls “arpa Latinoamericana.” There were full levers and a very interesting triple  harmonic curve (you can see two layers of it in the photo).  I wish my Spanish was strong enough to ask him how on Earth he changes strings with a basically solid backed harp!  After the concert Torres invited  me to try out his harp, which was a little embarrassing considering a) my lack of practice b) my long gel nails c) the narrow string spacing and d) key (I was trying to play a tune in C, but the harp was tuned in G).  Nonetheless, it was sweet of him, and I thoroughly enjoyed our stilted mixed language conversation.

I’ve found him on Youtube for you.  The sound quality isn’t great, but you can get an impression of the traditional Latin style and his skill.  I’m sure you can find MP3 tunes that are cleaner.  Take a listen and enjoy a sound of Mexico much more pleasant than the shrieks of an irritated jaguar or a hungry howler monkey! 

You can download MP3s from here:


2 Responses to “harping in Mexico”

  1. keren Huyter Says:

    I didn’t know that was even possible on a harp! Amazing!

  2. Crystal Harpist Says:

    Fabulous playing! Enjoyed your tale of meeting him as well.

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