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Harp on the Fringe


Naropa is on the Fringe. So is Boulder in popular opinion. The city at the base of the Flatirons always seems to add a twist to mainstream. Which is why it makes a perfect backdrop for the International Fringe Festival.

Lizary Rodriguez, a Puerto Rican transplant who has called Boulder home for the last year and a half, has been in the city long enough to know this kind of event fits well with its surroundings.

Rodriguez is also a renowned harpist selected to perform at Fringe—a stage she’ll use to prove the harp is more than just a classical instrument.

“It gives me the chance to show the versatility of the harp. There’s a lot of cool things that can be played on the harp.”
Think jazz harp. Or perhaps something with a little Caribbean twist such as plena- or danzas-style.

But there are limits: “No reggaeton, no salsa, not yet,” she says.

Over the course of 12 days there are many other interesting performances that will be on display at Fringe, which is put on in part by the folks at Naropa. More than 70 artists—ranging from a Lafayette magician to an Oregon clown and a New York theater company—will take over 14 venues from Aug. 16 through Aug. 27.

Performers are selected at random in a lottery-based process, which ensures a brand of “you-never-know-what-to-expect” entertainment.

Fringe started 60 years ago in Edinburgh, Scotland—this is the third time it’s been in Boulder—as a spontaneous and risk-taking approach to arts. It now has more than 25 locations throughout the world. Calgary, Cincinnati, London, Minnesota, Melbourne and Prague are a few taking part in 2007.

Rodriguez started experimenting outside of classical harp while studying at the University of Arizona and playing in a touring group of like-minded musicians called HarpFusion.

Now she dedicates an hour out of her daily six-hour practice sessions to exploring new ways to play the harp. She’s already tested jazz harp in Lake City, where she received positive feedback.

“People loved it,” she says. “They were really curious.”

That helps with keeping motivated despite the long hours of honing her harp.

“I want to make fun things,” she says, with a strong hint of her Spanish background busting through. “Of course my big love is always going to be classical music.

“But in this way I can reach more audience.”

And that’s the point of Fringe, to reach a new, large and diverse audience willing to see and hear new things. Perhaps if she’s selected to perform again next year, she can put together a dance hall reggae harp collection.

That would certainly be on the fringe.

“You are free to do what ever you want,” she says. “It’s a free expression.”

August 23, 7:30 p.m. Laughing Goat, Boulder
720.563.9950, www.boulderfringe.com?

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