BY ERIN YOO
Senior Olivia Aleguas discovered one passion through the inability to perform another.
Although ballet is an important part of Aleguas’ life, constant injuries three years ago forced her to stop and take a longer break period than usual. She took advantage of this time out and began a new journey into the world of playing the harp.
“There are just so many things about playing the harp that make it the best thing. Just getting to have the opportunity to perform for others, for example,” Aleguas said.
The larger-than-usual instrument comes in a variety of sizes and costs. Harps will often range from a price of $3,000 to $189,000 depending on the model. Aleguas’ harp weighs about 45 pounds and stands three inches taller than she. Her instrument is considered small enough to carry; however, other harps often call for specialized carts for specific models.
Even though the harp is a cumbersome instrument to carry around, Aleguas chose the harp due to a unique song done by a singer under the stage name of Gregory and the Hawk.
“Meredith Godreau’s song ‘Landscape’ was actually the song that inspired me to play,” Aleguas said. “I ended up playing for the talent show this year. It was a really big accomplishment for me to be able to play the song that inspired me.”
Playing at the talent show for the Bay Factor also turned out to be one of the most important moments for Aleguas since she originally was not going to perform due to a car accident earlier that week. Knowing that the performance was for a good cause, Aleguas decided to continue with the show despite being shaken by the recent car accident.
“The energy from the crowd was amazing. Their reaction to my performance was just the motivation I needed after the accident,” Aleguas said. “It was a great night filled with friends and encouragement. Definitely a night that I will never forget.”
Playing for the talent show at the Bay has not been her only performance. Aleguas has also done volunteer performances at community centers.
“I always try to do volunteer performances when I can because I think it’s important to spread music,” she said. “I just want to continue playing for as long as I can and hopefully teach others.”
By playing at places in the community such as retirement homes, nature centers, and libraries, Aleguas said new people become exposed to her music and instrument.
“I think it’s really important to get it out there and try to inspire others,” she said.
Aleguas is not alone in these beliefs. Her harp teacher Charlene Conner performs with Aleguas at the American Harp Society’s community concerts. Ms. Conner, also president of the South Florida Chapter in the American Harp Society, exudes pride in Aleguas’ skills.
“Olivia is a very dedicated and fine harpist and a well rounded person with many strengths,” Ms. Conner said.
Aleguas has also spread inspiration and emotion into her family with her playing. Aleguas’ sister, sophomore Marisa Aleguas, said Olivia exudes raw beauty in her playing.
“Olivia’s playing inspires me to work hard and rise up to my full potential as she demonstrates she has done with each and every song,” Marisa said.
Marisa said her sister is able to portray intelligence and a bubbly, genuine personality behind every note. As she listens at home, Marisa is able to feel Olivia’s attitude, cheerfulness, and concentration behind every note during any practice.
Aleguas is able to deliver lyrical performances, which involve singing as well. In the end, she said her disadvantage in ballet created a new advantage in the unusual instrument of the harp by expressing herself in a way other than words.
“There are just so many things about playing the harp that make it the best thing. Just getting to have the opportunity to perform for others,” she said, “that’s probably the biggest thing that I like about playing the harp.”