Everything you'll ever need to know about booking a Harpist
Everything you'll ever need to know about booking a Harpist. Find out what a Harpist will do at your event, how various types of Harpist differ from each other, what type of music they'll play, how much space they will require, how to ensure quality, how much it costs to hire a Harpist and much more.
By Alive Network, with contributions from Amour Harp and OL Harp. What is a Harpist and what do they do?
A harpist is a musician who plays the harp. Live harp music is suitable for many kinds of events, whether providing elegant, soothing background music for a wedding, or centre stage for a recital.
The two types of harp are the large concert harp (of the type played in orchestras), and the smaller Celtic harp. The concert harp offers the most versatility in terms of repertoire, and has a bigger, fuller sound. The Celtic harp is especially suited to folk music (particularly Irish and Scottish), though much classical repertoire and other music suited to weddings can also be played on it, and this type of harp can be ideal in smaller, more intimate venues.
The majority of harpists on the Alive Network website offer the large concert harp, though some also offer the Celtic harp as an option. The Celtic harp enjoys its most widespread use in Scotland and Ireland.
Watch one of our Harpists Amour Harp Live In Session with Alive Network:
Being such a versatile instrument, many harpists are capable of performing music from a wide variety of genres including classical, jazz, folk, and even some pop and rock music.
Choosing the perfect music is a very important part of your wedding day and, if you’d like something a bit out of the ordinary, you should consider booking a harpist for your wedding or function. The harp can really turn your event into a graceful and emotional occasion. Of all the instruments, the harp really comes into its own in helping to achieve a relaxed, calm ambience with its rich, romantic sound and dramatic visual impact. All this can be achieved with ONE instrument and ONE player!
The harp is a self-contained instrument and needs no accompaniment. The instrument itself is a beautiful addition to any room’s decor.
What should I look for to ensure quality?
All of the harpists on the Alive Network web site have already been carefully pre-vetted so they represent the very best of what's available in the UK. We have selected our artist roster from literally thousands of applications so in order to ensure quality all you need to do is choose one from our web site. Its risk free and you have peace of mind that we've already done the hard work for you.
If you do choose to look around elsewhere, here's what you should look for:
1. A great demo recording The music should be in time, in tune, and be well produced (it should sound like a high quality recording).
2. Great photos The harpist should be well presented, and their photographs well produced.
3. Customer reviews and testimonials Make sure you can read genuine recent reviews and quotes from previous customers. You'll find loads readily available here on the Alive Network web site.
4. Equipment They should use high quality instruments and if applicable, a PA system.
5. Experience and background Read the harpist’s biography and also look for a diverse repertoire list as this will indicate experience and flexibility. Check that they have a strong track record of playing at prestigious events or at high quality wedding venues.
6. The backing of a reliable agency No agent, no backup if anything goes wrong. Look for an agency that responds quickly, efficiently, and takes the time to listen to your individual requirements. They will be your point of contact so you need to be happy that they're providing a high quality service too.
7. Cost You get what you pay for, so don't cut corners unless you don't mind risking the success of your event. We represent hundreds of artists, all of whom define their own fees, so our prices are a good indicator of what's usual to pay.
What exactly will a Harpist do at my event? What will the format be?
A harpist would typically arrive at the venue about 1 hour before they are due to play. This is enough time to set up the harp, tune and warm up.
For a wedding, music is usually provided for the seating of guests, the entrance of the bride, the signing of the register, and the exit of the couple and guests from the ceremony room. The harpist can also provide background music for the drinks reception, and the wedding breakfast. Most harpists will offer a combination of one or more of these three elements of the wedding, to suit your requirements.
The harpist will play a selection of suitable pieces from their repertoire. You can discuss the programme beforehand, deciding which pieces to include or not to include, or you can leave it up to the harpist’s own professional judgement.
The harp can be moved from one venue to another, or from one room to another. In both cases, the harp will need to be packed away and unpacked again, and sometimes re-tuned. A move from room to room will usually take around 15 minutes.
What equipment will they provide?
99.9% of the artists working with Alive Network will provide all of their own equipment. A harpist will bring their harp, stool, sheet music and music stand. Some harpists amplify their harps, particularly when there are a large number of guests, and in this case they will bring their own amplifier and all associated equipment.
Ask your Alive Network coordinator if you need further help or advice regarding equipment.
How much space will they need?
For a concert harp, an area of 3m x 5m is required. For a Celtic harp, an area of 2 square metres is adequate. Harpists with smaller harps may require slightly less space.
The more room the harpist has, the more comfortable they'll be, and the better they'll perform. That said, they will do their very best to fit within what ever space you have to work with, just don't expect miracles.
How long will the performance last?
This is dependent on the event and the client’s requirements. For a wedding ceremony, the performance will last as long as is required for each part of the ceremony. For background music during the reception or another function, a typical set will be 45 minutes to one hour, with a break of about 15 minutes between sets. Many harpists will specify the maximum number of sets they will do, and 3 sets is a typical maximum. During a wedding breakfast, many harpists will take a short break between courses.
Are there any options or variations available to me?
Many harpists perform on large concert pedal harps, but some perform on smaller lever harps. Each instrument has its benefits and drawbacks. The pedal harp gives a loud rich sound and looks very impressive, but can be difficult to move about, particularly in venues like castles. The lever harp doesn’t have the volume and range, but they are more portable. Both types of harp are suited to many musical styles, and some harpists offer amplification for extra sound. Some harpists also perform with other instrumentalists, a popular duo being the harp and flute.
The options available for each artist are shown on their profile page and are selectable when you make an online enquiry. Contact our Alive Network coordinators if you need help or advice choosing a harpist for your event.
How much will it cost to hire a Harpist?
This depends greatly on the profile, quality and experience of the artist. All Alive Network artists are carefully vetted and so therefore represent the top percentage of quality live acts in the UK. Our harpists range from £200 up to £500 for a flute/harp duo.
The average fee for a wedding harpist is approximately £300.
Why is there a difference between what different Harpists cost?
Generally, you pay more for a reputable harpist with a high level of experience, stronger ability, and good quality equipment. The minimum standard of our harpists is already very high as we carefully vet everyone we work with, but you do get what you pay for.
Also, when you search our web site for harpists available in your event location, those who are travelling from outside the area will add travel fees, and these are included in the prices you see on our web site. Other variations may reflect the area of the country, for example, fees in the London area will probably be more expensive than the north of England.
The best way to reduce costs is to try to find a harpist who is based close by. The home town location of all Alive Network harpists is shown on the roster pages and also on each harpists profile page. You can also ask your coordinator to recommend the best harpist local to your event.
What security will I get when booking?
When you book a harpist through Alive Network you'll receive a legally binding contract which protects you against any foreseeable eventuality. This means that short of the artist being seriously injured or abducted by aliens, your booking is 100% safe.
You also get the full backing and support of Alive Network, the UK's largest live entertainment agency, as well as the assistance and advice of your personal Alive Network coordinator who will always be on hand to help if you have any questions or concerns.
You can think of Alive Network as your entertainment insurance.
What if the artist is ill?
It's very rare that problems occur, but if the unthinkable does happen, Alive Network will help you to source a replacement artist, even at very short notice. We work with hundreds of artists across the UK and have a huge database of contacts to fall back on in an emergency.
Given sufficient notice, you will always be fully informed and involved in agreeing a replacement artist. If you aren't happy with the replacement we suggest you can choose another of our acts, or else receive a full refund. If an emergency happens on the day of your event and we cannot contact you, we will liaise with your venue, and send the closest matching alternative artist so you are not left in the lurch.
Is there anything I’ll need to provide or ensure for them?
The harpist will need a safe performance area, and access to a plug socket if they are using an amplifier. It is often helpful to let the venue know if you book a harpist, so they can leave enough space for them when setting up the ceremony or wedding breakfast room. If they are required to play outdoors, the area will need to be weather proof and the ground flat.
If the harpist will be performing on a concert pedal harp, they will need to unload their equipment as close to the performance area as possible, then park. Pedal harps are moved on trolleys which can go up and down stairs, but they are large instruments and can be awkward to transport, especially along narrow winding staircases! Help may need to be sought from staff at the venue to transport the harp from one location to another.
For harpists performing in the afternoon, refreshments and sometimes food (depending on how long they’re at your event) will be required. Soft drinks, water, tea and coffee are usually sufficient. Please make sure you inform the bar staff that soft drinks should not be charged to the artist. Please ask your Alive Network coordinator to confirm whether your afternoon harpist will require food as most don’t.
Evening harpists will require food and refreshments (preferably a hot meal). If you are unable to provide a hot meal, some of the evening buffet will usually be sufficient. As above, soft drinks should be available.
Is there anything else I need to know?
We've put together a selection of useful tips and insights provided directly by our artists.
Amour Harp quotes “It’s always wonderful to have live music at any event, and harpists provide not only beautiful sounds, but also a talking point as well. It is quite an unusual instrument, and people are often interested in how it works, and surprised by its flexibility. Most harpists will be more than happy to talk about the instrument, and it is always a pleasure when a guest recognises their favourite tune.” OL Harp quotes “Sometimes harpists are asked to play outdoors, for example, during a drinks reception. Because of the many variables associated with playing outside and possible damage to the harp, some harpists are not willing to do this. Many harpists will consider playing outdoors providing certain conditions are met, mostly to protect the harp which is a valuable instrument. The weather must be warm and dry, with no threat of rain. Both the harpist and harp must be able to sit in a shaded spot, and there must be a flat surface area where the harpist can perform.”
How do I make a booking?
Once your agent sends you a quote and you are happy with the price, that agent will go through the logistics and timings, confirming the details of your booking. You will then be required to pay a deposit, usually over the phone by credit card, and then contracts and receipts will be emailed to you. The artists will also sign the same agreement. Once a booking has been made you will be put in contact with the artist 3 weeks before the event to double check the arrangements and make any changes necessary.
It’s always wonderful to have live music at any event, and harpists provide not only beautiful sounds, but also a talking point as well. It is quite an unusual instrument, and people are often interested in how it works, and surprised by its flexibility.
OL Harp is a Cheshire based harpist with many years’ experience, having played in numerous reputable hotels and venues throughout North West England and North Wales, at weddings and other private functions.
C Shapland is a harpist who can add the perfect accompaniment to any event such as weddings, christenings and parties. Her repertoire ranges from folk to popular and musicals.
Please note, this harpist only quotes for dates that are less than 6 month
Beautiful Harp is an international harpist based in Edinburgh. Her diversified repertoire includes classical, folk and jazz music. She arranges and composes jazz music for harp and has been inspired into making arrangements for the clarsach.
BC Harp is a professional, highly experienced harpist and her selection of music includes some of the well known popular and smooth jazz melodies, as well as the extensive repertoire of traditional Irish, Welsh and Scottish tunes.
M F Harp, an experienced harpist for all occasions in Gloucestershire and the South West of England, plays live harp music for weddings and events. Discount available on full day bookings.
Sometimes harpists are asked to play outdoors, for example, during a drinks reception. Many harpists will consider playing outdoors providing certain conditions are met, mostly to protect the harp which is a valuable instrument.
Alive Network is the UK's premier live music entertainment agency and the largest online entertainment booking service in the world. Established in 1999, we provide high quality live entertainment for over 7500 events per year. We represent hundreds of the UK's very best live bands, DJs & entertainers who are available to hire for weddings, corporate events & private parties.
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