“My name is a misnomer,” Felicitas Geiger, harpist from Germany, tells me at the outset as we sit down to chat. But why? “My surname, Geiger, means ‘violinist’ in German. And look at me harping around!” she says with an infectious laugh.
The artist from Germany is touring the country with her harp, wowing and wooing its people with the strains from the instrument that is not all that familiar in this part of the world.
It was her interest in Indian music that spurred her on to explore the country. Felicitas started her tour from Pune, where she jammed with a guitarist and had the audience demanding an encore.
“That was when I realised how people here were new to the harp and admire it. And boy! Wasn’t I enjoying the limelight!” she says in chaste English sans any German accent. Her next destination was Thiruvananthapuram, where she played the harp at the Sivananda Ashram in Neyyar before a 300-plus crowd.
“Fortunately, wherever I go, me and my music have been much appreciated as most of them have never heard a harp recital. So they enjoy the novelty of the music.”
Felicitas was jamming with bands across the country and playing in hotels, spreading the magic of her harp when composer Sunny Viswanath invited her to be part of his upcoming international album. “It’s been amazing working with him. India has presented me such an inspirational journey,” she swears. “Right now, I’m learning some ragas and playing them on the harp. I am exploring the prospects of making a fusion album, too.”
She started playing the harp when she was 14. “My friend’s mother is a harpist and that’s how I got hooked on to it.” Ask her if the harp is a popular musical instrument out there and she says, “Not quite. I play the Irish harp because it is easier to carry around than the concert harp. Though I play the latter, too, I prefer its Irish counterpart.”
Felicitas had always wanted to be a classical musician in an orchestra. “Then I discovered a whole new world of fusion music. I now dream of bringing together different cultures through my music,” says the harpist who wants to develop a distinct style.
The first thing she is going to do on getting back to her motherland is perform before the Indian communities in Berlin.
“Although I knew there are a number of Indian communities there, I’ve never had the chance to perform before them. Once I’m back, I want to give them a taste of their music with my harp. it feels good blending and harmonising different cultures through the medium of music,” she says with a smile.
Felicitas has been having a whale of a time playing with different bands in the country. “And wherever I go, I stand out, thanks to the
novelty of the harp and the appreciation it gives me,” says the harpist, who is on a mission to popularise the instrument here. “It feels wonderful when the audience receive my music whole-heartedly. And I want the music of the harp to reach more people.”
Felicitas believes she shares a special bond with her harp. “It broke thrice on my Indian trip. Believe me, the three times it broke was when I fell ill,” she says.
“Neither of us could take the heat and the humidity. And all the three times, by the time I recuperated, luckily, I got someone to repair it. They might not be professionals at it but I somehow managed. The last person who set my harp right was a veena maker from Thiruvananthapuram.” Felicitas will soon be off to Germany but she promises to come back.
“I want to do concerts all over India and make the harp popular. Never in my life have I got such tremendous encouragement to pursue my art. And I am duty-bound to give back to the country my share of music for all the positive energy it has given me,” she signs off.