Our second year Foundation–sponsored musical guest was Philippe Fouquet from the town of Tours in France. He of course traveled light, as he plays the original OHG – the world’s first “travel harp guitar” that he commissioned from Luke Brunner. Like the one I demo’d at last year’s Gathering (now sold), all were impressed with Philippe’s instrument, which approaches the sound of a full size Dyer. The audience was equally impressed by Philippe’s presentation and performances, which did not skimp on the virtuoso harp guitar compositions that he now has well under hand.
I couldn’t hear the Saturday night performances very well, as I was backstage doing M.C. duties (but will eventually have hi def video with pro audio track to watch, thanks to Brad). Stephen handled the Sunday afternoon show, so I was able to sit out in the audience and bask in the music. I was most affected by Philippe’s first, very emotional tune, during which our relationship played itself across my mind:
- Frank (Doucette) playing me some songs by a fellow 6-string Wingert guitar owner he had met a couple of years back.
- The discovery that this fellow (Philippe) had recorded one piece on an old Viennese harp guitar he had found on eBay.
- Our correspondence with him to encourage and solicit additional harp guitar pieces.
- His wonderful tune Les fleurs de l’aube – which he recorded 3 separate times as we worked to perfect the arrangement and performance to fit with the concept album Harp Guitar Dreams.
- The last minute pulling of the tune from the CD master due to subtle but irresolvable difficulties with his antique guitar’s intonation.
- Philippe taking the devastating rejection and making it his “Turning Point” – within a year, commissioning an entirely new harp guitar invention (the Brunner OHG), developing a whole new harp guitar performance technique on it, and writing and recording a whole new repertoire of harp guitar tunes.
- With some 6-string guitar pieces, this became the CD Turning Point I was honored to release on my Harp Guitar Music label a year ago.
- His European successes with gigs and interviews (both print and video), culminating in….
- Our opportunity to bring him over for his first trip to America, a guest of The Harp Guitar Foundation, and a true harp guitar star.
So yes, Philippe’s opening number served as the perfect soundtrack to the story – as I was struck by what an amazing journey of fate this has been for both Philippe and I, and in such a short time.
And finally, we met face to face, with a physical embrace – and a whirlwind weekend of music, joy, tears and laughter cementing our mutual musical interests, our collaborations, our friendship.