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Double vision: A musical triumph comes to life

A decade in the making, Smithers lawyer finishes building a friend's dream instrument

When two friends had the same vision for a unique musical instrument, one of them decided to build it and gift it to the other.

About ten years ago, Ian Lawson had this idea of a black harp in his head, something modelled after a grand piano. He had built his daughter a smaller harp years ago and thought it would be cool to make a bigger one. A couple of weeks after he thought of this, his friend Jean Christian, who plays harp, randomly told him that she had always wanted a black harp.

Lawson thought that was too big of coincidence to ignore.

“If the universe gives you messages, you better listen to them,” he said.

Christian said she was surprised when he decided to make it.

“When Ian suggested building me a harp, I honestly did not hold onto the idea, knowing what a huge undertaking it is,” she said. “Also I did not understand why he would follow his vision or calling to build a harp of such uniqueness, of greater string range and of black stained wood. I told him I was drawn to have a 'harp built of ebony’.” 

Over the next ten years, Lawson followed an instruction manual and worked away in his shop during his spare time. He said he was pleasantly surprised at his work and still can’t believe he built the harp with his own hands.

“It's probably a very overwhelming sense of accomplishment,” he added.

While not exactly a surprise to Christian, its completion was also a touch on the overwhelming side.

"As the years passed he would inform me of the progress, and his journey embedded in its creation,” she said.

“There were long spells of time where we had no contact, so again I did not hold him to its completion, as I had not ever requested him to do this for me. So it is very remarkable and stunning to have it here before me in its towering glory.

"As to how I feel about receiving and having this harp, it is the very beginning of this realization. Yes, it is with gratitude and love that I receive it, but as to its message and unique voice, I have yet to learn. I will compose upon it and build a relationship with it. Instruments have persona and are living things to their musicians, and this one is waiting to be known.”

 Lawson said he enjoys challenges and found the process of building the instrument therapeutic, calling this harp art and music beautifully intertwined.

Marisca Bakker

About the Author: Marisca Bakker

Marisca was born and raised in Ontario and moved to Smithers almost ten years ago on a one-year contract.
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