Harpist goes Gothic for Halloween

The creator of the show had to scare up many of the musical works.
YOUNGSTOWN -- "The Vampyre's Harp: A Gothic Harp Recital," by Kirk Kupensky, will be presented at the Victorian Players Theater on Halloween night, Oct. 31.
There will be two performances of the show -- 8 p.m. and midnight -- which combines Gothic music and literature.
Kupensky, of Youngstown, has been a harpist for 23 years. He has studied with former first chair harpists to the Cleveland, Berlin and London Philharmonic orchestras. Though primarily a classical musician, he has taken his harp into the realms of jazz, popular and new age music. "The Vampyre's Harp," however, is an attempt to bring Gothic harp literature to the stage in a recital of music tailor-made for the Halloween season.
The Gothic movement of the 19th century has led to the common definition of Gothic as being connected to the dark and horrific. Gothic novels include terror, mystery, the supernatural, doom, decay, old buildings with ghosts in them, madness and vampires, such as Bram Stoker's "Dracula."
The music of this period illustrates these concepts. However, in the case of harp music, much of this body of work has fallen out of print.
Kupensky has, over the years, found many of these older 19th century works and coupling them together with other more well-known piano transcriptions of this era, combined them to create "The Vampyre's Harp."
The type of harp used in this show is a 47-string concert grand pedal harp made by the Salvi Company of Italy. It is the type of harp seen in orchestras. The harp has seven pedals, which change the pitch of the strings, giving it a broader range than a piano.
To add to the Gothic effect, the harp in this production is electrified, and has an echoing effect that can be adjusted accordingly. It won't take much to imagine that you are hearing ghostly harp music from inside a Gothic castle.
"The Vampyre's Harp" begins with J.S. Bach's famous "Toccatta in D minor," which is most often associated with "The Phantom of the Opera." It is heard often at Halloween, though usually played on pipe organ.
Other composers represented on the program include Chopin, Debussy and Zabel.
About Kupensky
Though still an active classical artist, Kupensky has focused his attention on the spiritual and healing powers of music. For more than five years, he has worked in a hospital setting, providing healing harp music for those in pain or in transition. He is also the minister of music and expressive arts at Unity Church Centre in Girard.
He has recorded two albums: "Sacred Sonics" and "Eternal Dreamer."
Tickets for "The Vampyre's Harp" are 10 for adults and 8 for seniors and students. The theater is located at 702 Mahoning Ave., near downtown (across the street from Flynn's Tires). Call (330) 746-5455 for ticket information.

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