From Rome to Hong Kong, India to New York, and now to Visalia, the Earth Harp, the largest stringed instrument, along with its inventor, musician William Close, will be at the L.J. Williams Theatre on Saturday, September 27, for two benefit performances.
Close agreed to the exclusive Visalia performances when he learned ticket sales were to aid the Visalia Education Foundation, said Phil Walker, VEF board member. The VEF is a main source of funding for musical instruments, outside of regular budgeting and scholarships, for graduating students of the Visalia Unified School District.
Walker thought of asking Close to perform after seeing him earn a way into the finals on “America’s Got Talent.”
“I saw him on the show and was very impressed with him, as a musician myself,” Walker said, adding that VEF has used concerts as fundraisers before. “We have had a lot of success with concerts in the past and were looking for the right fit.”
Close studied sculpture and design at the Art Institute of Chicago and has invented numerous unique instruments. He has long been inspired by the quote of Frank Lloyd Wright, “architecture is frozen music.”
To play the strings on the Earth Harp, the performer runs his hands along them wearing cotton gloves and using bows coated in violin resin, creating vibrational wave tones.
Each location requires unique setup and specific tuning. Close invented the instrument in 1999, and has set it up in a variety of indoor such as New York’s Kennedy Center and outdoor locations such as the Space Needle in Seattle and the Coliseum in Rome, with the strings reaching up to 1,000 feet in length.
Close, his instruments and team have traveled around the world and now a well-known cruise line is creating a ship with a concert hall designed to meet the needs of Close and his unusual instrument, according to Walker.
This is a very special attraction for the VEF and the local community, Walker said. Proceeds will help provide more student instruments and scholarships. The hope is not only to raise funds, but also to inspire students to explore their minds and the world, he added.
Last year, city schools were 75 preferred instruments short of what students chose to play, according to Walker. The goal is to provide students with the instrument that sparks their interest.
“When students have to play an instrument that is not their first choice, they tend to lose interest,” he said.
Tickets for the matinee and evening performances are available at www.visalia edfoundation.org, or by contacting the office at 730-7518 or [email protected]. For more on the Earth Harp, including a video of a performance, visit http://williamandtheearthharp.com.