Calgary harpist shares power of music with online concert

A Calgary harpist is hitting the road to bring concert music to the streets across Canada.

Gianetta Baril has performed around the world from concert halls like Prague’s Rudolfinum to the Escadaria Selarón, or Seralon Steps in Rio De Janero.

When COVID stopped all live performances in 2020, she converted a large cargo van not just into a camper she could live in but into a self-contained rolling concert hall, so she could take live harp music on the road.

"My intention is to just take music wherever possible. I would love to go all the way across the country," said Baril. "But with the COVID restrictions now I don't know. I think I'll be in Alberta for a little while and when I can, I'll cross the (provincial) border."

Baril logged over 6,000 kilometres across Alberta and B.C. through the fall of 2020 playing 33 concerts from the back of her van, stopping wherever people needed a respite from the weariness of COVID.

"I realized that I had to find a way to get live music to people to bring that comfort and that consolation, and that possibility for new experience, a new perspective," said Baril while playing for people gathered in Prairie Winds Park Tuesday afternoon.

Wednesday she’s setting out again, packing her harp, which she’s named Amadei, and her cat Misty into the van and hitting the road for more concerts.

"Over the winter months, I have both missed the audiences and the joy of sharing music," said Baril. "But I used that time to plan my next journey across Canada and built a new vehicle better suited to the long journey. With my van ready, I am leaving Calgary this Wednesday."

This year’s Harp to Heart tour was originally planned to head east, eventually leading into Ontario and Quebec, but surging cases of COVID-19, and travel restrictions into those provinces have forced her to rethink her route.

“Until a few weeks ago, I thought I'd be playing a concert with some colleagues, and had to cancel that. Up until yesterday, (April 19) I thought I'd be going out to the Okanagan to play about six concerts for them, but now the B.C. border is closed," said Baril. "So it's just changing all the time. And I think the main thing is to be to be ready to respond meaningfully to, to whatever comes and keep a positive attitude."

Baril, originally planned to launch her tour with a livestream concert on April 18th but changes to COVID-19 restrictions forced a cancellation of those plans as well.

Instead she’s recorded a concert of harp music from the back of her van. The Harp To Heart Cross Country Tour Launch Concert will be streamed online at 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 25.

Tickets are pay-what-you-want with a minimum of $15 for concert access. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.polariscentre.ca.