GROVE CITY — A local harpist is excited to share her passion with the community as part of a special St. Patrick’s Day performance.
“Back in high school, I just loved the sound of it,” Marlyn Jensen said of when she first discovered the instrument.
Along with her children, Calvinn, 17, and Matelyn, 15, she’s set to take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Guthrie Theatre, 232 S. Broad St., Grove City.
They’ll be sharing a selection of Scottish and Irish harp music, including some sacred songs and folk tunes they learned more about during a recent trip to Scotland Ireland.
“And they’re just beautiful,” said Jensen, who gives lessons in her Grove City home.
The evening will include some fiddle playing and photos from the family’s summer 2022 trip.
The audience will be invited to sing along and will hopefully be able to connect with the Jensens as they tell the stories be-hind the songs.
Admission is free, though donations will be accepted to help with expenses related to Jensen’s research of Scottish music.
Also, fish and chips will be sold at the theater from 5 to 9 p.m.
Jensen, who teaches at Portersville Christian school, competed at the national level for the Scottish Harp Society of America, receiving a stipend to study in Scotland the summer of 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic halted those plans, but it gave her more time to raise money for what she calls “the trip of a lifetime.”
The timing worked out because Jensen was able to see a former harp student perform for the World Harp Congress in Wales; the young woman is now studying at The Julliard School in New York City.
Her daughter also plays and competes, and there are quite a few opportunities in the region for harpists to come together, Jensen said.
There are a number of harpists in the Mercer County area, and national competitions have been held in Edinboro and Ohio in recent years.
There are traditional Scottish Highland games in Edinboro, Ligonier and Wheeling, and the Ohio Scottish Arts School in Rocky River teaches fiddle, harp, dancing and more.
Jensen typically performs with a lever harp as opposed to a pedal harp, which has foot pedals.
Some audience members might recognize the hymn “Morning Has Broken,” but they might not know it has Scottish roots.
“We actually got to go to where that song is written,” she said.
Scottish culture is a very big part of the country’s church history, and she learned that some music from the Highlands and Lowlands has been lost to time.
“It’s a fascinating history,” Jensen said.
She and her children are very much looking forward to Friday’s show, as they’re finally getting back to a regular schedule following the pandemic.
“We are so excited to be there,” she said.
Jensen enjoys playing for community and church groups and audiences, and can customize the music and program based on the host’s preferences.
“There’s just something magical,” she said of pulling the strings.
For more information, visit the Guthrie Theatre’s Facebook page or www.marjensenmusic.com
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