Artosphere Trail Mix Concerts

This past weekend I was lucky enough to participate in the Trail Mix Concerts as part of the Artosphere music and arts celebration sponsored by the Walton Arts Center and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Saturday I was on the Trail in Fayetteville and Sunday in Bentonville at Crystal Bridges.

It was hot but the energy of the fantastic crowd really heated things up and I had a memorable weekend. Interacting with the crowd and the kids (of all ages) made the time fly along with my fingers. Both days were just too short and they had to pull me off the trails. This weekend was just another reminder of why I love the beautiful area that we live in—the wonderful people and the groups that are committed to arts and music in the community.

Here I am on the Trail getting ready to play. (This photo won 2nd place in the Artosphere photo contest. Thanks to my hubby and the many hats he wears.)IMG_1321

Here is a small sample of the crowds going by!

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Here I am tucked in the trees at Crystal Bridges.  DSCN3153e

This beautiful couple started to dance to one of my songs. IMG_0104

A nice article that appeared in the What’s Up! section of the paper before the weekend.IMG_1308

Going to Harp Camp!!!

I’m going to Harp Camp!!! Ok, it isn’t really camp. It is a beautiful Hilton Hotel in New Jersey but it will feel like camp! I’m like a 10-year old excited about summer vacation and getting to see old friends and meeting new ones. Of course, there will be lots of music and songs but I’m sure the Hilton will prefer that we skip the campfires.

The first harp event that I ever attended was the Somerset Harp Festival. It was 2003 and I had been playing the harp exactly four months. It was an amazing and overwhelming experience for me and I met several people that changed my life. I was in awe of the performers, presenters and teachers and felt more out of my comfort zone than I had ever felt before. However, I was struck by the kindness of so many of the people and their willingness to befriend, teach, and encourage. I was able to go back in 2004 and I felt only slightly less overwhelmed.

A lot has changed since 2003. I’ve been able to attend harp festivals and gatherings from coast to coast, both big and small but haven’t been back to Somerset. I am still awed by the people that I met at those early conferences (and since then) but now many of them are friends and most are colleagues—either directly with my work for the Folk Harp Journal or in the wider sense as we are all professional harpists trying to make it in a tough business. This year will be a totally different experience then that first time but I know I will still be overwhelmed and inspired by the performances and teaching. I’m spending a full day taking an improv class with the incomparable Deborah Henson-Conant whom I’ve never seen before in person but I know this will be fabulous. I received a professional artist’s grant from the Arkansas Arts Council to help with expenses so I will be partially representing the state of Arkansas. But primarily, it will be an honor to be there representing the FHJ and the Folk Harp Society (ISFHC). I’m so thrilled about this and it is mind-blowing for me—something I never would have dreamed of or imagined back in 2003. It feels so perfect and appropriate that Somerset will be my first official event as the editor of the FHJ.

One project that I have been working on as editor of the FHJ is to update the index that we have of back issues. It has been interesting to review the past issues and see all the people and work that has gone into creating and maintaining this impressive society that we have. When a group of harpists get together, we generally call it a harp circle. A circle—no beginning, no end, not limited in width or circumference and strengthened by the bond of all of those gathered together. I’m so thrilled to be a part of the circles that will form at Somerset—just slightly disappointed that there won’t be a campfire.

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Summer Concerts

I’m very excited about the great concerts that I have on tap for this summer! Stockdell, Harpist-summer calendarCome out too one of these public events and join me. See the calendar for more details.

A New Hat—the Folk Harp Journal

Recently, I added a new title to my life. One that I’ve never had before, never expected or even imagined. I don’t like to tell people that I got a new job because then they assume that I have stopped being a full time harpist and that definitely isn’t correct. So I like to tell people that I’ve put on a new hat that blends well with the rest of my outfit. I am now the newest editor of the Folk Harp Journal (FHJ) which is the publication of the International Society of Folk Harpers and Craftsmen (ISFHC). I’ve been working on the Journal for many years, never expecting to be in this position, but I’m extremely excited about the opportunity and the adventures to come.

Four years ago when the last editor left, the thought did cross my mind that I would like that title but I knew at that point I didn’t have any of the qualifications needed to make me even a remote possibility as a candidate. After that, it never crossed my mind again until late November when Tammy Feil, the past editor, told me of her plans to retire.

A few months ago a friend of mine had approached me with a business opportunity. That was a surprise and I was seriously considering it although I didn’t really feel the need to add a major challenge to my life. Things are grooving along quite well and Rick and I love our life together. However, it would have been a good fit with my current work and it is something that I’m passionate about doing. So I was pondering the pros and cons. And pondering.

Then the editor position for the FHJ came up and I didn’t have to spend much time pondering it. It hadn’t been on my radar and I hadn’t thought about it but there it was and I knew it was the right step for me. As a self-employed artist you do have to wear a lot of hats. I have become better at writing as I work on this blog. I’ve had to learn several new software programs to create and edit my CD and to work on marketing by designing advertising and concert posters. I’ve definitely learned more about organization and project management which I was already pretty good at from my days of corporate life. And as a solo artist you really have to learn self-motivation and determination. It is all up to you, baby.

During the last few years as I’ve worked on the paid advertising for the Journal I’ve actually designed a few of the ads and gotten to know all of the people that are involved in the magazine and society. It is a great group of people and I’ve really been glad to be a part of it. So at this point it felt like a natural next step for me even though I couldn’t say being an “editor” is something that I’ve done. It was a great leap of faith that the board of the ISFHC has taken in hiring me but I plan to make them proud.

I got the official word on December 31st and after that it was honestly like getting hit by a tidal wave. There was no time to ease into the transition! The deadline for publication was bearing down and I had a lot to learn. Mark and Tammy Feil were awesome in helping me walk through things but it was just nose to it to get everything organized and ready for my first issue. It was a steep learning curve but I felt up to the challenge. By the time I sent the magazine off to the printer for my first issue I was a week ahead of schedule! I had purposefully left a little cushion room in there in case of bumps but everything went smoothly. The Spring 2015 issue of the FHJ should be hitting mailboxes soon.

I’m already at work on the next issue and I’m looking forward to many more. There are so many exciting things going on in the harp world and I’m thrilled to be a part of it in this new way.

Below is my “Note from the Editor” which is included in the Spring Issue.

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It is an honor to have been chosen by the ISFHC Board of Directors to be the new editor of the Folk Harp Journal. Working with Tammy and Mark Feil on the FHJ has been a pleasure and they have taken the publication to new heights. They are helping me tremendously through this transition time and I will miss working with them.

Nearly fifteen years ago, I dreamed of learning to play the harp. One of my first purchases was membership in the ISFHC. The FHJ was my catalog of hope and inspiration. After I got my first harp and started to play, the Journal was by my side when I was looking for conferences so I could learn and interact with other harpists. The pieces of music printed in the magazine over the years have become some of my favorite songs to play. Stories of other harpists gave me the courage to go out and perform, to work in hospice and to become a harp teacher. In January of 2011, I become a full-time harpist and this past October I released my first CD. I never dreamed when I began this journey that I would come this far. The FHJ has been with me every step of the way and helped me fulfill dreams I couldn’t imagine when I started. My goal as editor is to continue to foster and inspire the dreams of harpists wherever they are on their journey.

In early 2006, Mary Radspinner asked me if I could help her a little bit with the classifieds for the Journal and since then my duties with the ISFHC have grown and changed in unexpected ways, especially this newest phase. Above all, I have come to sincerely appreciate how much work goes into keeping this organization growing and vibrant and the wonderful people who are involved. This community has so much to share and learn from each other. It is never ending exploration and limitless imagination.

Beth A. Stockdell
Editor-in-Chief

Four Months in “A Priceless Meadow”

It has been four months now since I released my debut CD “A Priceless Meadow.” It was a hard but fun journey getting to that day so I’ve enjoyed this post project time. My family, friends and many random people made the release a big success in my eyes. So many people bought multiple copies that they gave away as Christmas gifts. It was very gratifying that people loved it enough that they wanted to share. I’ve sold enough to make it worthwhile even though I still have a few stored in my studio. I think that sales will continue and I’m also able to give them to clients and friends as a nice Thank You gift.

Since the release I’ve had many nice reviews from friends and colleagues. People hBASave told me that they are using the CD in yoga classes, in offices, a calming mechanism in the fight against LA traffic and as part of a training program for stress reduction! One thing that has been interesting for me is that I have the album on my iPhone which I almost always have on a global shuffle. Let me tell you my music collection is nothing if not eclectic! So periodically one of my songs will pop up unexpectedly. It always makes me pause and think “Wow, that is really me.” It is a heartwarming experience.

 

It is interesting to me to hear from many of the other musicians I know who have said that they all look back at their first album and now say they can’t stand it. I’ve been a harpist for almost twelve years and this album took about three years to complete and I think that in general it is a good thing that it took me so long to finish this project. Right now, I feel really proud of this album and can’t imagine looking back and feeling that way about it. On the other hand, I do plan to continue to grow and progress as an artist so part of me does hope that I feel that way someday. But not anytime soon.

Another interesting thing that happened is that one musician friend said that she had trouble with some of the rhythmic issues on a couple songs. I appreciated the feedback so I went to look into what she was pointing out. Turns out it was specifically on the two songs where I had created the mash-ups and I had purposefully put these songs together. And in BOTH cases they had a certain rhythmic pattern that appealed to me. I liked the ebb and flow of the two songs against each other and I think it works. It didn’t work for her but that is ok. I learned something very interesting because of her comment and I also know that you can’t please everyone.

One of the nicest reviews that I had on my CD is being published in the Spring issue of the Folk Harp Journal. It was written by harpist, Martha Gallagher, whom I greatly respect. To have the CD reviewed in the magazine of my peers means a lot to me.

A Priceless Meadow
Beth A. Stockdell
www.stockdell.com

This debut CD from Beth Stockdell is filled with a peaceful gentleness. From the first haunting chord of the first tune, “A Gaelic Lass,” I was led by the music to a gentle and quiet space. While the music styles and arrangements do vary, the sound and feel is kept consistent throughout the entire recording. This consistency invites the listener to simply sit back, relax and enjoy the music for the tranquil journey it creates for them.

Beth’s music choices complement each other splendidly. Her arrangements of several traditional Gaelic and Scottish tunes are woven into lovely medleys that flow well together and highlight the lovely sound that Beth draws from her harp. Employing the full range of the harp, the arrangements feature lush bass notes, full tones of the mid-range and brightness of the upper octaves, woven together in concerted harmony. Her arrangement of the traditional Irish tune “Kilcash” is appealing with its pleasingly clean lines. Her arrangement of the Scottish tune “Bovaglie’s Plaid” has a gentle playful joy to it.

The music glides from serene to plaintive, from tender to wistful. Light touches of jazz give a contemporary and harmonious feel to the music. The selections also include contemporary compositions by several harpists well known in the harp world for their wonderful compositions. Original pieces by RoJean Loucks include “Promises” and “Farewell”; the CD finishes with her truly lovely “Cyndee’s Farewell.” Carolyn Bame’s tranquil “Etude” and “Beside the Still Waters” sit beautifully among the traditional selections, including Joanna Mell’s engaging arrangement of “The Castle of Dromore.” The deliciously melancholy “Come To Me,” by Dave Parker and Kathy Walden adds another fine musical element to the recording. “Windows of Paris,” by William T. Mahan has a charm to it that transported this listener, in my mind, to a Paris of misty memories and romantic dreams.

Arkansas Arts Council Adventure and the Attorney General

In October, I applied to be an artist on the Arkansas Arts Council Artists on Tour Roster for 2015. I was lucky enough to be asked to do a presentation in Little Rock on November 7th to the Council Board. It was an interesting experience although, unfortunately, unsuccessful. FOR NOW! But as for the future… try, try again!

For the Art Council I presented a concert program which is based on a tag line that I have had on my website since the beginning of my harp days…. Journeys of the Harp. This past year I did two concerts and from those and the training that I do for volunteers at Circle of Life I have developed what I believe to be a really great concert performance which blends the music of the harp, in all it’s different modes, as well as my journey with the harp. The Council ended up being split in their decision about accepting me into the Artist on Tour Roster and for now they think I don’t have enough experience presenting this program. I can appreciate that. I think perhaps they got my presentation idea a little too confused with my work in healing music and couldn’t separate the two. I want to take both my harp work and myself on a journey down an additional road. Not to leave the healing work (or wedding work!) behind but just to make new paths!

So my challenge for the year is to come up with some additional places, especially out of the Fayetteville area, where I can present my concert. If you have any ideas, let me know!

It was a fun experience presenting in front of the Council and I enjoyed meeting all of the people there. They put you on a very tight schedule and you have exactly 20 minutes to get in and do your presentation. The Council meeting was in a conference room in downtown Little Rock so I set up outside the room in the lobby of the building. While I was sitting in the lobby just tuning up the harp, people were coming in and out of the building and they were all startled to see a harpist sitting by the elevators. I became quite the photo op. Of course, at the moment that Rick walked away for the restroom Dustin McDaniel, the Arkansas Attorney General, came into the lobby. He exclaimed several times “There is a harp in my building! There is a harp in my building!” He couldn’t quite get over it. Someone was talking to him but he stopped and said hi to me before he went up the elevators to his office. Later when Rick came back I sent him up to give Mr. McDaniel a CD. It never fails to be exciting to see people responding to seeing a harp in person!

Here I am tuning by the elevators.

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A Grand Concert!

DSCN2442eOn Sunday, October 12th, I gave a concert in Carthage, Missouri as part of their 48th Annual Maple Leaf Festival sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. Carthage is a lovely town with lots of history and if you are into seeing the fall foliage emerge then you should definitely put Carthage on your list of places to visit.

The concert itself was sponsored by the wonderful IMG_0699Jeanne Goolsby at the Grand Avenue Bed and Breakfast and was held at Grace Episcopal Church. Reverend Steve served as my emcee and he was awesome! As I paused between played some traditional Irish songs and talked about Turlough O’Carolan, the patron saint of lever harpists, he told everyone about visiting Turlough’s grave in Ireland. It was nice to have those personal stories to go with to evening.

It was a great group of people in theCarthage Concert-SQ audience. The size was nice so we were able to talk between songs and they asked lots of great questions about the harp and my musical journey. I think everyone enjoyed themselves as much as I did. It was a fundraiser for their church youth programs. I hope to go back again next year!

 

I also can’t say enough about Jeanne and the Grand Avenue. Last year, I called Jeanne out of the blue and asked her if we could take over her place for a harp gathering. She very kindly agreed and it was the beginning of a great relationship. (If you want to see a little video of that event, click here.) I couldn’t get the group gathered again this year but I was lucky that Jeanne asked me to come and plaIMG_3535y as part of the festival. Rick and I stayed two nights and used it as little romantic getaway break during the busy fall. Jeanne makes amazing food and the breakfast chat with the other guests was grand. I met a fellow Circle of Life cohort and a couple from Oklahoma. The gentleman of that couple is generally based overseas with the state department so we had a fascinating conversation to start the day.

In case you are wondering about the picture in the poster…. I did that last year to show off some new dresses that I bought. It seemed kind of hair-brained at the time so it was very convenient that they came in handy this year to use as part of the Maple Leaf Concert! I love it when my crazy ideas become useful later. I could pretend I planned it that way but that would be way too logical!

The picture of the tractor is just one of the many “vignettes” set up around Carthage to showcase their fall colors.

Some lovely press…and what hospice means to me.

I was honored to be featured in two articles that came out in conjunction with the release of my CD “A Priceless Meadow.” Both of the articles focused on my work at Circle of Life Hospice (COL) where I have worked as a volunteer for almost seven years.

People are still commenting to me after the article in the newspaper and I’m still blushing. April Robertson did a lovely job with the article and it was a joy to meet her. She is a musician too so I’m sure that is part of why we enjoyed our time together and the article went so well. Click here to read the article.

Obviously, on the one hand I’m trying to promote and sell a CD (“A Priceless Meadow” in case you missed that! 🙂 ) but they can’t just do an article about a product. Most of the time my work for COL has been done fairly under the radar. In my family, both growing up and now, doing volunteer work is what you do but not something that you talk about. You just do it. So having this additional publicity based on my work is embarrassing. On the other hand I’ve come to realize the extreme need to publicize the work that COL does. It is so important and so misunderstood by the general public. Even in my own family when my father-in-law needed hospice the family struggled with the process.

The harp is just a magical instrument and so if via that I can help illuminate the work of COL, I’m happy to do it. I’m just a very small part of the process there but I’m very happy to be included. I’m also glad that the current doctors, nurses and administrators see the value in the work that I do. So for the articles, anything that helps further the discussion about hospice and choices in end of life care is valuable. It is a choice about living well not just about dying.

The second article that came out was from my alma mater, John Brown University, where I got my degree in 2002 as a working adult. I loved their Advanced Degree Completion Program. It was hard work but worth it. So recently, I sat down with Lori Walker and we talked about my time there and my work for COL. They like to know that their alumna go out into the world and do things to help the community. It is a fundamental part of their values. I believe that it will be printed in an alumni newsletter soon which I’m looking forward to so I might reconnect with a few of my fellow classmates. But in the meantime, you can click here to read the article.

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It’s a CD Baby! And iTunes!

I started my harp musical career with very low expectations. Would I ever learn a song? Could I ever play at church? Could I ever play in public at all? My track record with public performance as a kid wasn’t great and I wasn’t the best with public speaking so to be where I am now as a musician does constantly fill me with wonder. Truly. Having a CD out takes it the next level and I’m ready!

For the release of my CD “A Priceless Meadow” I went through the process of getting a physical CD made but also getting it set up for digital distribution. Obviously, that is not the future anymore but now. Some people have gone retro to do vinyl but that is not part of my future. Independent artists have to find a way to go down as many roads as possible to reach the widest audience. I don’t expect this CD to pay for it’s self immediately (or maybe not anytime soon) so I won’t be counting on my iTunes residual checks before they hatch but seeing your name in lights on iTunes is excellent.

The CD replication company that I worked with did a distribution bundle and they helped you through the process so you can now find my CD on CD Baby, Amazon and iTunes.

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So, now you have a lot of ways to reach out and find my music! But, honestly, if you want to support an independent musician the best thing you can do is buy a CD directly from them. Or go to their concert. Or buy them a glass of wine. Give them a pat on the back and tell them that you appreciate what they are doing. Filling the world with beautiful music is actually hard work. But worth it.

CD Launch Party!

On October 8th, I officially launch my new CD “A Priceless Meadow” with a Party at Arsagas! It was such a great party and I’m very thankful to all of my friends and family that attended the event. And those that sent their hugs even though they couldn’t be there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earlier in the week this is how excited I was when the actual CD arrived at my door. Rick caught the big moment right after we came home from a walk. I have to tell you there is something kind of cool about seeing this physical thing come from so many years of hard work.

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The actual day (the day!) of the party this plaque arrived at my door. This was a gift from the CD replication company and, again, I have to tell you it was pretty cool to have this arrive. Especially right before the party. It makes me feel pretty official.

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It was also nice that the release party got a little extra publicity in “What’s Up!.”

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