On February the 4th, 2005, the 5-time Grammy winning tenor, Jerry Hadley, performed with the Champaign-Urbana Symphony at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. His program consisted of music of the German Romantics including 7 Early Songs by Alban Berg. One of the songs contained a substantial harp part that was completely playable as written except for one complex measure that required the use of enharmonic spellings. Due to pedal issues, it was not possible to play the written notes. Moreover, since there was not a graceful way to insert a rewritten part, it was necessary to memorize this passage in order to avoid the confusion of seeing one set of notes while playing another.

Although the part was well written, it was at times rendered awkward by changes in the tempo when it was difficult, if not impossible, to watch the conductor. At one place, I recall, there were demanding pedal changes during a ritard. If I watched the conductor, I would likely miss some of the changes and if I didn’t watch the conductor, I would possibly not make the proper ritard. Often harp parts could have been made more accessible with a little editing. Since this entire passage was doubled by other instruments, it would have made sense to use the harp primarily to highlight rather than double the orchestration. By doing this, the harp part could still have been effective while avoiding needless complexities.