It started on a whim, and now one girl’s dream to learn a rare instrument has turned into a unique showcase of her talents along with those of her teachers.
Crenshaw Elementary and Middle School will host a harp recital at its campus this Friday. Sponsored by the Tiki Beach Grill, the recital begins with dinner at 6 p.m. with a dinner of stuffed baked potatoes, dessert and a beverage.
Dinner will be followed by a performance of professional harpist Charlotte Mizener, professor of music education at Lamar University; clarinetist Gary Mizener, adjunct professor of music at Lamar University; and burgeoning harpist, Caitlyn Jackson, an eighth-grade student at the school.
Tickets are $5 and will be available at the door or at the front office of Crenshaw school, 416 state Highway 87, in Crystal Beach.
Jackson’s fascination with the harp came from the Disney movie “The Aristocats,” in which one of the characters played the centuries-old, multi-stringed instrument. Months of bugging her family for one led to them making a $1,000 investment in a small version.
“I thought, I want to do that,” Caitlyn, 13, said about watching the Disney flick. “I continued to beg and for Christmas, I got a lap harp from my aunt.”
But it soon became apparent that it would take more than guidebooks to learn how to play the complicated piece. Jackson’s mother, Catherine, a teacher at Crenshaw, sought to find her lessons, eventually finding Charlotte Mizener at Lamar University in Beaumont. Mizener received her master of music in harp performance from the University of North Texas and the Ph.D. in music education from the University of Texas at Austin.
Because of the limitations of the lap harp, eventually the Jackson family raised enough money to pay for a lever harp, a stand-up version that most people know. These versions can cost well over $10,000. In other words, it’s too expensive to simply be a hobby.
After about a year of lessons, Catherine came up with the idea to put on a recital with the musicians her daughter had been working with. It’s probably safe to say this is one of the first — if only — harp recital in the history of Bolivar Peninsula. For $5, it’s a great opportunity for Galveston residents to take a sunset cruise across the ferry.
“It’s such a rare instrument and we had the opportunity to get professional musicians come perform for us,” Catherine said. “This is an uncommon event for Bolivar Peninsula. It exposes the community to culture they might not otherwise be exposed to.”
Caitlyn relishes the chance to share what’s she’s learned. When asked about nerves, she says she doesn’t get the jitters when performing. She’s just happy to be able to play her harp for others.
“It’s cool,” she says. “How many children can say they play the harp? I can say, “I play a gigantic instrument. Do you?’”
Johnston Farrow is the communications specialist for Galveston ISD.