Eline Groslot: In June 2021, I embarked on a fascinating journey with my GPS for the harp repertoire. I chose this well-known acronym because it best describes how I navigate the peculiar structure of the harp repertoire. I’ve made a list of compositions that I consider important for understanding the harp repertoire. These are pieces of exquisite quality, well-written, and having withstood the test of time. One 21st-century piece that has particularly touched me because of its compelling composition is Two Japanese Folk Songs by Toshio Hosokawa. This music expresses the serenity of nature, but also the power it has over us; it’s 21st-century music rooted in Japanese tradition.
Even when I try to dampen every sound that no longer fits the harmony, many overtones continue to resonate. Hence, damping can be somewhat deceptive in a way because the resonance of the instrument in the room persists. This resonance is the essential aspect of In a Landscape, a piece written for piano or harp by John Cage. The silence in-between notes is crucial to fully grasp the composition: for him, the spaces between notes contain not silence but time.
Looking at Gordon’s repertoire, you'll notice immediately that he has a fascination for non-mainstream instruments. During our correspondence, he revealed to me that he dreamed of composing a harp concerto based on a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, called Eolian. From the very start, Eolian's character is evident: glissandi, bisbigliandi, and many ‘classical’ harp techniques, all with a contemporary twist, full of emotion, speed, and expression. You can feel the wind, thunder, primal power, and love.
James MacMillan, too, understands the power and narrative strength of glissandi. Knockroon Waltz plays with flageolets and glissandi, contrasting the left and right hands rhythmically during the waltz in such a way that it seems to shift, much like a sculpture which shifts and suddenly consists of two parts.
Eline Groslot has been solo harpist of the Brussels Philharmonic since 2001. She is an exceptionally experienced and valued orchestral musician, chambristian and soloist, with a commitment to the development of young musicians and with a broad interest in all forms of art.
As a musician, Eline finds the creation, performance and promotion of new music a particularly important task. Eline has played the world premiere of Robert Groslot's Concerto for Harp and Orchestra at the World Harp Congress in Sydney, which has been with Brussels Philharmonic on the Naxos label in autumn 2019.
Eline has performed at numerous festivals, such as the Festival Camac in Marseille, the international harp festival Seduced by harps, the Festival van Vlaanderen, Festival de Wallonie, Festival Brigittines, and soloed with the Vlaams Radiokoor, Dvorak Collegium and Brussels Philharmonic, among others.
She is a member of several permanent chamber music ensembles. With other more various and fluid ones, she plays a repertoire of all style periods, sometimes combined with other art forms.
James MacMillan is one of today’s most successful composers and is also internationally active as a conductor. His musical language is flooded with influences from his Scottish heritage, Catholic faith, social conscience and close connection with Celtic folk music, blended with influences from Far Eastern, Scandinavian and Eastern European music.
MacMillan first became internationally recognized after the extraordinary success of The Confession of Isobel Gowdie at the BBC Proms in 1990.
His prolific output has since been performed and broadcast around the world. His major works include percussion concerto Veni, Veni, Emmanuel, which has received more than 400 performances, a cello concerto for Mstislav Rostropovich and three symphonies. Recent major works include his St John Passion co-commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Berlin Radio Choir, his Violin Concerto, Viola Concerto, St Luke Passion and, most recently, his Percussion Concerto No.2 for Colin Currie, co-commissioned by the Philharmonia Orchestra, Edinburgh International Festival, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra and Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music.
MacMillan enjoys a flourishing career as conductor of his own music alongside a range of contemporary and standard repertoire, praised for the composer’s insight he brings to each score. He was Principal Guest Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic until 2013 and was Composer/ Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic from 2000-2009; he has conducted orchestras such as the Baltimore Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, Vienna Radio Symphony, Danish Radio Symphony, Gothenburg Symphony, Luxembourg Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony, Bournemouth Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and NHK Symphony Orchestra among others. MacMillan was Composer in Residence at the 2012 Grafenegg Festival and a London Symphony Orchestra Portrait Artist in the 2009/10 season.
In spring 2014 MacMillan conducted three projects with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, culminating in a ground-breaking tour to India with Nicola Benedetti performing in Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi including public concerts, schools concerts and outreach work. In the 2014/15 season, MacMillan conducts orchestras including the Bergen Philharmonic, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Britten Sinfonia. In January 2015 he conducts a new production of his opera, Inés de Castro, at Scottish Opera and elsewhere this season conducts choral concerts in Sao Paulo and with the BBC Singers. In October 2014 MacMillan founded his music festival, The Cumnock Tryst, which takes place in his native Ayrshire.