Once upon a time a 4-year-old girl from Massachusetts named Joyce Rice started playing the harp. Since then she’s had a rich and varied musical career from ballet pianist to playing harp in an Australian orchestra.
She began composing for lever harp, using themes from every day life such as “I Need A Costume For Tomorrow” (with words that a harried seamstress can relate to.) Among her most clever is a collection called “Petty Larcenies” – shortened famous motifs in two volumes, interwoven with original material and very playable to boot.
Joyce became a beacon for the lever harp, and she even worked at Sylvia Woods Harp Center for a short time. Her composition Kaleidoscope is specifically for lever harp and is beautifully dissonant. See all of Joyce’s music.
Let’s flash back to around the turn of the century. Joyce had arranged a medley of Beatles tunes for harp trio. She attempted to publish it, but the copyright owners would not consent because Sylvia Woods had already published a book of Beatles tunes for the harp (Lennon and McCartney for the Harp). Back then, pop harp music was rare, and publishers were reluctant to print harp music that was already “out there” because of the sparse amount of harpist customers. About a dozen years later, Afghan Press Music for the Harp attempted to acquire copyright permission in order to make this trio available. We were told that a $500 fee would have to be paid up front for each title in the medley. There are seven titles in this medley: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Yesterday, Yellow Submarine, Here There and Everywhere, Hard Day’s Night, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, and When I’m 64. That’s an upfront cost of $3500! The trio arrangement was set aside and all but forgotten.
In March of 2022 Mary Radspinner had an inspiration to resurrect the trio and upload it to “ArrangeMe,” the most economical way to make copyrighted music available to musicians everywhere. With fingers crossed, Joyce sent her mid-1990 Finale file from her ancient Apple computer to Mary’s PC with Finale version 26 in hopes it would open. And it did! The score was edited, parts were extracted and proofed multiple times for a final product which can be found on SheetMusicPlus.com. (Item Number: A0.1080493). On that site, it is known as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. We had to choose only one of the medley pieces.
It’s a clever and creative medley for three harps using pedal slides and glissandos. Parts 1 and 2 are for pedal harp, and part 3 is for either pedal or lever harp. The general level is intermediate although the pedal slides may be tricky. Each individual part is 5 pages. The score is 14 pages in length. Pedal and lever changes are well marked, as well as dynamics. Sample pages of the score can be seen at the Sheet Music Plus site. The purchase price is $30 which includes the score and three individual parts.
Now we need a YouTube of the performance. Who’s up for that challenge?