Library program inspires musical pursuits

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South Charleston Leslie Arendt became interested in playing the harp after attending a program at Houston Library many years ago. A similar program is scheduled for July 12.

(Posted July 3, 2018)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

How impactful can a library program be? Just ask Leslie Arendt.

Sixteen years ago, Leslie and her sister, Harmony, attended a program about harps at the Houston Library in South Charles-ton. Representatives from Rees Harps Inc. of Rising Sun, Ind., conducted a demonstration and talked about how they make their harps.

Leslie, who was 12 at the time, and Harmony, who was 8, had never seen or heard harps up close. They were captivated.

“Harps have such a unique sound,” Leslie said. “I played guitar at the time. The harp was a whole different voice you could express yourself through.”

The sisters made plans then and there to save money to buy a Rees harp. Two years later, they had enough to buy a small lever harp, also known as an Irish harp. With no teachers nearby, they found instructors in Dayton and Cincinnati and quickly took to the instrument.

It wasn’t long before they purchased a larger orchestral harp and expanded their repertoire from Celtic music to a wide range of genres. Word got around.

“Now, we play for weddings, parties–anywhere people want harps,” Leslie said.

Those appearances have included performances at the annual Christmas concert at the South Charleston Opera House and programs at Houston Library. Additionally, Leslie, Harmony, two of their other siblings and their mother play in a bluegrass band whose upcoming schedule includes a music program at a library in Kentucky.

“It’s come full circle,” Leslie said. “Now, we’re the ones doing library programs getting kids into music.”

Could inspiration strike for another set of budding musicians? Rees Harps Inc. returns to Houston Library July 12 as part of the “Libraries Rock” summer reading program. Rees representatives Garen and Melissa Irwin will demystify the harp with an introduction to the lever harp, as well as what types of harps are available today and their uses. The lap harp, basic lever harp, and double harp will be available for “hands-on” experimentation. The program starts at 10:30 a.m. and is open to all ages.

Should anyone come away from the program with a desire to learn how to play the harp, they won’t have to travel to Dayton, Cincinnati, or anywhere far away at all.

“Fortunately, the kids who are interested this time around can take lessons from me!” Leslie said.

For more information about the harp demonstration or any other special program or activity on Houston Library’s summer reading schedule, call (937) 462-8047. The library is located at 5 Jamestown St., South Charleston.

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