Elizabeth’s focus is now on writing, having just published her first novel, Life’s Attic, but she still plays the harp occasionally, specifically for the Artist Openings at the Winchester Galleries in Victoria, BC. Her 3 solo harp CDs are still available and reflect her love of music and it’s many styles.
Click on CDs for details
Elizabeth Ely has played the harp all her life. Her mother, Kathryn Ely, has unquestionably been her predominant teacher. Not remembering a time when the harp was not a part of her life, Elizabeth received her first blister, from overdoing it, when she was three years old.
Personal experience has shown that there are many different ways to learn. The interactive and teamwork approach of her mother’s teaching worked very well. However, not all teachers work this way. Elizabeth writes that “for me personally, I continue to play the harp in spite of my Bachelor’s Degree in Music Performance, not because of it . . . I lost touch with the joy I once felt.”
Re-inspiration came for Elizabeth after university when she began performing on cruise ships. She explains that it was there that “I learned hands on, pun intended, to blend the beneficial classical training I had gained from my mother with the art of entertaining. Music did not have to experienced only on the concert stage. I was surrounded by other performers who played the music people wanted to hear. It was presented in a fun, comfortable, more interactive way. Different people are moved by different styles and types of music. By playing a mixture of popular and classical music, I feel I have finally found my niche. It feels right.”
Arranging a lot of music herself, Elizabeth played everything from Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” to “Star Trek – The Search for Spock” to “Clair de Lune” to “Stairway to Heaven.”
Her last CD From My Harp continued the eclectic mix, with selections ranging from Smetana’s “The Moldau” to Iron Butterfly’s “In A Gadda Da Vida.”
2003 Newspaper Interview with Elizabeth
Check out I Want to Marry Ryan Banks. Elizabeth played the harp in this 2004 ABC Family TV movie. “Everyone (Jason Priestly, Bradley Cooper, Emma Caulfield, director Sheldon Larry, and all the rest of the cast and crew) was just so wonderful and friendly and helpful…truly a memorable experience.” ~Elizabeth
Elizabeth was the resident harpist for the Empress Room at the Fairmont Empress for 15 years until the music was discontinued there in 2005. “I want to thank all the faithful, loyal, and appreciative listeners over the years – it’s been my great pleasure meeting and playing for you – truly extended family – I wish you all, all the very best, and look forward to our paths crossing again!” -Elizabeth
ELIZABETH’S TITANIC HARP EXPERIENCES
During production of the CD My Harp Has A Voice the unthinkable happened. A mysterious accident, details still unknown, caused the neck of Elizabeth’s harp to be complete severed. It was a sad and shocking, heretofore unimaginable sight. The strings were limp and powerless. A mere 3 1/2 weeks earlier she was plucking them, creating this recording.
Elizabeth writes “the irony of the situation struck me. Part of the impetus for me to produce this album was the impact the Titanic had on me. Always captivated by its lore, the film further solidified my feelings. The expression of this is my harp arrangement of its theme song. It truly does come from my heart, that will go on, no matter what.
“To see this lovely instrument so unnecessarily and inexplicably brutalized a day after the 86th anniversary of the Titanic‘s mortal wounding, seemed almost eerie. Interestingly, I later learned that I had finished recording one year to the day that principal filming finished on Titanic.
“The end of both left each broken in two. I am so grateful that I had the time to record all these songs before the harp was gone. Whether or not this harp can be repaired, it will never be what it was. Part of me feels it should be allowed to rest as the Titanic rests at the bottom of the Atlantic. Titanic will always be remembered.
“I choose to remember my harp, and the inspiration it allowed me to feel, the way you hear it here. These moments will remain, with new ones created with a new harp, but always . . . My Harp Has A Voice.
UPDATE ON ELIZABETH’S HARP
Given the trauma this harp underwent, it is no wonder that it was never to be the same. It was repaired, but the process took more than 5 months, with entire parts of it (most noticeably the curved neck of the instrument) completely replaced. While it was made structurally sound again, and was a good instrument, it was never the same. “It was too painful to see and hear knowing what it had once been, serving as a perpetual reminder of that mysterious accident.
“The bond a musician can feel with his or her instrument can be very special. It is with this inanimate object that the musician is able to animate the music. This may seem an odd or extreme view, but it felt like the soul of my harp was no longer there, as if it had been released the day it was broken, that it was now merely a shell of what it had been. For me, it did die that day months before.
“I knew something had to be done. This harp had to go to a new home, a fresh start, a new life, without being hampered by memories of its former one. I’m happy to report this happened. I too had a fresh start with a new harp from a new manufacturer. Camac Harps of France had recently entered the North American market and had made huge strides in harp development. A fresh start in every sense of the word, a birth if you will. This seemed to be the natural evolution, a death followed by a birth. The cycle goes on in every way.
“This new harp and I fit together perfectly now. Amazingly, I feel even more in tune with this instrument than I ever have before. It is as if we really are one when the music is flowing. There is an ease and comfort to this harp that suits me. The range of sound and emotion it allows me to play reflects what I hear inside of myself, more than I ever thought possible.
“I have never been one to assign personalities and so on to my instruments, as some harpists do. It was merely a tool I had thought. But this whole experience showed me that even though I don’t fully understand it, there is a bond between musician and instrument. That’s not to say one can’t play well on others, but that when it is the right instrument, it can be something very special. Somehow, a feeling of perfect harmony, figuratively not just literally is attained. A feeling I couldn’t imagine feeling when I stood there in shock, looking at my broken harp, what seems a lifetime ago.
I have now recorded a third CD, From My Harp , but this is the first one on the new harp. It was a wonderful experience to hear how it would do. It feels very good knowing that what this harp and I have been allowed to create is in some small way, now preserved. So we’ve come full circle it seems, recording both pre- and post-accident. May the journey continue . . .”