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First-year Music student Hebe Kan wins prestigious harp competition

First year Music student Hebe Kan has won first prize in the UK Harp Competition 2024, which she says was ‘a huge shock and honour.’ Hebe, who practises daily, is a student of renowned harpist Skaila Kanga, Professor Emeritus at the Royal Academy of Music.

Trinity’s Director of Studies in Music, Dr Paul Wingfield said: ‘Coming first in this prestigious competition is impressive and Hebe should be extremely proud of her achievement. As a first-year student of Music at Trinity, she has juggled her studies and musical practice judiciously and I look forward to watching Hebe’s progress in the years to come.’


Professor Skaila Kanga and Hebe Kan. Photo: UK Harp Association

Hebe explains how she began playing the harp and what it means to her.

How do you feel about winning first prize in the UK Harp Competition? 

It is such a huge shock and honour to be awarded first prize in the UK Harp Competition, as it is the foremost harp competition in the UK for young professional harpists under the age of 30, with prizes including three recitals in the coming months around the UK. I had to get through two rounds of competitions up against students from the London conservatories.

When and why did you begin playing the harp? 

I started playing the harp before I turned four. A beginner harp class was offered at my kindergarten and both me and my mom were interested in it. I’ve been in love with it since day one so that’s how my journey began.

What is it like to play the harp? 

Harp is definitely not the easiest instrument to play, as it requires good coordination between the hands and feet. It takes time to master, as all instruments do, and it’s hard as it has lots of technique and terminology that may confuse even other musicians!

I love playing the harp as it gives me a medium to express myself through music. It’s a delicate balance between expressing and also staying in control of your playing, consistently performing at high standards while still finding the spark of musical inspiration on stage and connecting with the audience musically.

Hebe performing in Trinity’s Chapel

How often do you play and who do you perform with? 

I usually spend about two or three hours a day practising, give or take. I do have solo performances, perhaps one every or every other month on average. I also enjoy playing in chamber music groups and orchestras. I don’t really have a fixed group of people I perform with, as not much repertoire includes harp.

It’s early days, but what do you hope to do in future? 

Being a soloist has always been on the top of my list, but I also hope to become a harp musicologist, as harp music is very rarely discussed and researched. I would also love to transcribe music for the harp to expand our ever so limited repertoire.

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