May 22, 2011 | The Angelaire’s Again!

May 22, 2011 | The Angelaire’s Again!

The Michigan Harp Ensemble Presents “The Angelaire’s Again!”

Sunday, May 22, 2011, 3:00 p.m.

First United Methodist Church, Birmingham
1589 West Maple Rd.
Birmingham, MI 48009

Lydia Cleaver
Christa Grix
Kerstin Allvin
Patricia Terry Ross
Amy Ley

The Michigan Harp Ensemble

Photo: (standing L to R) Lydia Cleaver, Christa Grix, Kerstin Allvin (seated L to R) Patricia Terry Ross, Amy Ley

The First United Methodist Church, 1589 West Maple Rd., Birmingham, is sponsoring a concert of music for five harps with the Michigan Harp Ensemble. First heard in performances in Detroit in 1986, The Michigan Harp Ensemble has reunited for a stunning concert of music for five harps. Members of the ensemble include important and influential educators and harpists from all over the city. Rarely is it possible to hear such a combination of renown and versatile harpists and to experience the rich sonorities of the instruments together. They look forward to continuing the harp tradition in Metropolitan Detroit.

This very special concert at FUMC, will be a musical memoire and a historical review of one of the most famous harp ensembles ever created, The Angelaire’s. The ensemble will perform music written expressly for the Angelaire’s and from the era in which it was created, the 1950’s. Elyze Ilku, the Principal Harpist Emeritus of our own Detroit Symphony Orchestra and one of the early Angelaire’s under Columbia Artist Management will delight the audience with her introductions of our selections.

The Angelaire Harp Ensemble

For nearly ten years, a group of five young women and their five harps toured the United States and Canada, traveling by train, car and trailer, bus and a variety of rescue vehicles.

It all began in late summer in 1948 when a Philadelphia booking agent contacted Virginia Werner Hatter about the possibility of using multiple harps on some jobs he had booked.

Virginia accepted the offer. She realized the group had no popular music to play for these jobs and she quickly wrote arrangements for Malaguena and medleys from Oaklahoma and South Pacific. With the money from these first jobs the Ensemble purchased its first set of gowns, and continued to perform, but with no contract.

During this time Howard Lanin heard the group, hired it, gave it a three-month contract which was followed by an extended contract, and made his son Mike its personal manager.

For this type of work the ensemble primarily played popular music (additional arrangements had been commissioned) backed by a band, and later lighting charts would be incorporated. Almost always Clair de lune would be included as the ensemble’s solo number.

The players on 26 March 1950 made the first of two television appearances on the Paul Whiteman Show. They also appeared in shows of Frank Sinatra (who sent each girl a perfect yellow rose), Ed Sullivan, The Tonight Show with Steve Allen, and a CBC show originating from Montreal.

On 23 May 1951 the Lanins arranged an audition with Columbia Artists Management and the Angelairs would begin touring for Community Concerts in January 1952, with nine concerts on the East Coast, traveling by train.

The season of 1953-54 would find the ensemble the heaviest booked at Columbia, with over one hundred concerts covering the United States, and Canada from Ontario east to Prince Edward Island.

The 1957 tour would be the last tour for Columbia, and after some work for the Lanins in the spring of 1958, the adventure would end.

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