Magic in her fingers

Magic in her  fingers

She smoothens her gown and sits with precision and soon harmonious notes from her magnificent instrument reverberate in the entire lobby, the soft tinkling sound of the fountain creating a surreal ambience. It is difficult to believe that she is human, the enchanting AnnaLisa Underhay captures the attention of all present with her looks and her music that resonates from her harp!

She has been playing the Greek mythological instrument for 17 years now. Her long affair with the harp began after she saw her mother playing it. “She got hooked to the instrument while she was in her last days at the university, while I selected it in the initial days itself and got a chance to be part of various ensembles. I was lucky, in that sense, to get a hands-on experience,” says Anna as she bends a huge wooden harp and balances it on her shoulder while resting her feet on the foot notes. 

“It is very heavy and a lot of harpists suffer from back problems,” she informs Metrolife admitting that the biggest challenge, “For any harpist is to remain medically fit. Most of them refuse to play four sets in a day but I am able to do so, considering my conditioning,” says the Canadian lass who started playing at the age of 16 and underwent gruelling practice sessions to learn the ancient classical instrument.

Travelling to another state after covering long distances from her hometown did have its advantages as she gained recognition internationally. She travelled to various countries while performing on ship and not only made friends but also found the love of her life. 

In India, stationed at Taj Mahal Hotel, Mansingh Road, for another nine months, Lisa says: “This is the longest time that I have been away from my husband and family. I celebrated Christmas watching my family on Skype and New Year will be similar.” Tears whell-up in her eyes and soon she veers the conversation to her sensitive instrument. 

“A harp gets affected even with a slight change of temperature between the room and hotel lobby. One has to be particularly careful about handling its strings and the hands should not be greasy. Though a background knowledge in piano helps in  playing the harp, it is rather difficult since the music notes are placed on one side than in front (like in piano).”    

Fluent in five languages – English, Japanese, French, Italian and Hungarian, she is the sole harpist in the country at present and accepted the offer to regale music-lovers in India because of the many Indian friends that she endeared on various cruises. She admits that she came to India also with the intention of “learning Hindi. But before flying I could not find any book on the language at one of the biggest book store in US and after landing I was in for a shock to find that everyone here speaks in English!” 

As she grapples with her desire to learn Hindi (in a land full of English-speaking people) and learn the tunes of popular Bollywood songs, her Indian audience revels in the celestial music of her harp. 

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