They're not just like pieces of furniture, somehow you grow close to them.
—Janelle Nadeau, harpist
The first time Janelle Nadeau remembers seeing a harp, she was three years old.
Her parents had taken her to the children's symphony and it was all she remembers looking at. After that, she pestered them to let her take lessons. When she turned seven, they agreed.
renting her first harp from her instructor, but got a small one
of her own from Santa when she was eight or nine. The first one she bought for herself was when she was in her teens, after raising the money playing at weddings and other events.
After that purchase, the next one in her collection came eight years ago. She ordered a custom harp from Chicago, one that took a year to make. "There's no other harp like it in the world, it's gold leafed," she explains. "Most harpists are lucky to own one," she says.
Some of Janelle Nadeau's harp collection (Janelle Nadeau)
But Nadeau isn't like most other harpists. Over the years she's slowly been building her collection, which currently sits at nine. She bought a Celtic harp outside of Portland after spending time playing with Winter Harp
. Until then, she hadn't seen the appeal of that particular style.
"I didn't understand how capable this instrument was in making amazing music. I thought classical harp was more versatile, easier to make key changes, but it's not true at all. So I fell in love with a Celtic harp so I had to have one of those. It's a bit ridiculous but they all have a different purpose."
Nadeau currently lives in Vancouver but with family and a lot of gigs in Winnipeg, she keeps harps in both locations - which greatly reduces travel costs.
Over the years, Nadeau has collected many kinds of harps, including an electric one made in France, another one made in Paraguay, and her most recent acquisition - two mini lap harps offered to her by a photographer at one of her shows.
"I feel like at this point I need to sell one," Nadeau says. "But because each instrument sounds so different and has different sound and tension, is made of different wood, it depends what you need it for. And so at this point I feel like I have them and I don't want to sell them, in case I need them."
Though Nadeau has said it before, she's not planning to add any more harps to her collection for the foreseeable future. And though part of her is thinking about scaling her collection back, she may not be quite ready to take that step.
"They're not just like pieces of furniture, somehow you grow close to them. So having to sell it feels emotional, because that instrument has helped you make music over the years, you get to know it somehow."Janelle Nadeau performs with Winter Harp at the Pantages Playhouse Theatre on November 30.