Harpist Reuben Correa to perform in concert on December 5th | Local

Are you looking for a quiet break during the peak holiday season? If so, don’t miss the Reuben Correa Harp Concert at 3 p.m. on Sunday, December 5 at the Faith Lutheran Church Shrine in Hutchinson. Joining Correa will be her local students Sharon Barton and Miley Flemming. After the concert, guests are invited to a reception where they can mingle with Correa, buy CDs of his music, and enjoy light refreshments.

During Correa’s performance, expect to hear an eclectic mix of music ranging from Christmas carols and original compositions from his six CDs to Celtic pieces he has arranged and original unrecorded material.

“(During Sunday’s concert) I’ll be handing out cards asking what the audience always wanted to hear played on a harp,” Correa said.

He can’t wait to return to Hutchinson because he once played Faith Lutheran. Another reason is to play your new harp during the 8 a.m. and 10:10 a.m. church services and the afternoon concert.

“It’s my biggest harp,” he said. “It’s called an epic 39-string harp with an extended soundboard. He is 62 inches tall. It was built by Musicmakers in Stillwater. It weighs 29 pounds and is made with laminates of four different types of wood: cherry, oak, maple, and walnut. “

It also has a string tension of about 175 pounds per square inch on the soundboard.

“Until I get used to it, it tires my hands,” Correa said. “That’s why I don’t shake hands after a performance. “

For those who like anecdotes, the harpist said most owners name their instruments. Some will share the name and others will keep it a secret.

“The Epic harp doesn’t have a name yet, it’s still too new,” Correa said.

So who is Ruben Correa? A 67-year-old professional composer, performer and teacher based in Minneapolis, who has been playing the harp for 37 years. He stayed with the string instrument because “it spoke to him.”

“I mostly tried other instruments and this instrument met my creative soul and was a challenge,” he said. “And because at the time I was an extrovert and it was the showiest instrument in the music program.”

Correa also liked that he didn’t have a competition.

“I realized that I could earn enough money to support myself,” he said. “A few months after I started learning it, people were asking me to perform their events. “

Correa’s musical journey began with piano lessons in his youth and progressed from there to play tuba in the high school orchestra.

After graduation, as many of his peers headed to college, he enlisted in the US Air Force, where he spent 11 years. After his honorable discharge, Correa followed his friends’ path and headed for college. He was 30 and accepted as a tuba player at Bethel University in Arden Hills.

As it turns out, the college received a hand-carved concert harp for $ 25,000. They needed students to play it, so in the second semester of his freshman year, Correa put the tuba aside and took up the harp. It was a good choice because it suited his temperament.

“It was the instrument that I have been looking for all my life,” he said.

His first teacher was Anne Ransom, secondary harpist for the Minnesota Orchestra. When they started class, she told Correa not to train for more than 10 minutes a day. His enthusiasm for the harp outweighed his advice, and he played long enough that his fingers tingled and eventually swelled.

“I had little fish jars at my fingertips,” he recalls. “I couldn’t even hold a pen. I wore gloves instead of bandages.

After learning her lesson, Correa followed her teacher’s advice. He played the instrument throughout his college years, graduating in 1989 with a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Bethel.

From there, Correa crafted a career that included writing music, recording CDs, performing classes, attending weddings and private events, and performing at venues ranging from the Minnesota Renaissance Festival and from farmers’ markets to institutions for the elderly and hospitals. Most recently, he completed an eight-day race at the Minnesota State Fair.

“I like to play for people who have never heard the harp before,” he said. Among his favorite places to play – the facilities for the elderly.

When Correa began his solo career, he used the Bethel harp for his performances. It was bulky and difficult to transport. In 1987 he built his first with a kit from the Musicmakers store in Stillwater. It looks like an instrument from the Gothic period and the frame is birch and maple with a solid birch soundboard. It weighs 27 pounds and it carries it in a soft case.

“With this harp I can make revolving doors and spiral staircases,” he said. “It’s a great instrument to have.”

Correa has six harps ranging from the smallest, which is a 24-inch camping harp with 15 strings, to his latest – the 62-inch Epic. Among his most valuable is a 26 inch string harp with 22 strings. What sets it apart is that it uses it in medical settings because of its light and bell-like tone. It is also covered with over 300 signatures from patients, medical staff, family and friends.

“It’s a way of making these people a part of my music in a permanent and unique way,” he said.

Professionally, Correa has won accolades ranging from first place in the Emerging Styles category at the Scottish Harp Society of America, Minnesota Chapter, to first place in the professional division and first place out of all contestants in the competition. of Celtic Harp from the Scottish Highlander Games in San Diego. He has also been awarded twice for his compositions “Mis Hermanos” and “Chasin ‘My Tail” in the category best solo instrument of the JPF Independent Music Awards.

Unlike many teachers, Correa travels within a 70 mile radius to work with students. He does this because he has discovered that his students can learn more deeply in their own practice space rather than having to face traffic and play their lesson on a strange harp.

It was with his student Sharon Barton in the Hutchinson / Silver Lake campaign that this interview with Leader took place after their lesson. Barton took harp lessons for three and a half years.

“It’s very calming and very relaxing,” she said.

If you think you can learn the harp quickly, forget it. Correa said the harp is five times harder than the piano. Barton, who has played the piano and organ for many years, said she found it much more difficult to play than the piano.

“I picked it up,” she said.

Another challenge with the harp is that it is a physical instrument. Your right arm moves as the harp moves.

“When I first started playing I felt like a contortionist,” he said.

Correa teaches his students one finger at a time. He also echoes his teacher’s words telling students not to practice for more than 10 minutes a day. The reason is that you don’t want to develop calluses on your fingertips as it interferes with the feeling of the string vibrations. If he develops a callus, Correa said he uses an emery board to file it down.

He tells his students to give themselves permission to make mistakes and to receive instructions.

“Adults do so many good things that they get discouraged by making mistakes,” he said.

Correa also recommends setting a budget and learning all the costs involved for time and money.

“Rent a harp,” he said. “Do not buy a harp until you have developed a passion for it and feel that it is something you will be doing for the rest of your life.”

This is good advice because the price of a harp can range from around $ 500 for a small dream harp often used for musical therapy to over $ 100,000 for a professional concert harp.

Interestingly, the harp is gaining popularity. Correa said that this could be attributed in part to people’s exposure to harp music at Renaissance fairs. Correa got many of his students through appearances at festivals. Early in his career he performed at Iowa Renaissance festivals and once in San Antonio, Texas.

Four years ago Correa suffered a devastating stroke. This deprived him of his ability to walk and speak. When it came to playing the harp, Corea said he could play technique – stuff like scales and chords, but had to relearn how to play recognizable songs.

“Yet when my brain gets tired I make more mistakes,” he said. “And I’m forgetting what I played and what I didn’t and I’m just going to find an ending and finish it.”

Correa has also learned that below 59 degrees her hands don’t work, so playing outside can be tricky in cooler weather.

It wasn’t long after her recovery from a stroke that COVID-19 made its appearance in our world. He, like small businesses around the world, was not immune to the effects of the pandemic.

“I lost five students and a whole series of performances were canceled,” he said. “I asked myself, ‘How am I going to survive? “”

He pivoted and started giving virtual classes online and pushing work where he could find it. In November 2020, he performed at a wedding for two 80 years. The bride and bridesmaid drove scooters down the aisle.

“A year later, on their anniversary (in November 2021), I played everything I played at their wedding,” he said. They were so busy that day that they couldn’t really remember the music. The 2021 private concert paid them everything.

Correa had hoped to have a new CD by Christmas, but COVID came to his engineers and his studio, so this project was put on hold. With the holidays approaching, he can’t wait to play Christmas Eve church services.

In the meantime, Correa will continue to find ways to share the magic of the harp with audiences large and small.

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