As posted by Mariana Lazos on the website https://www.plans.com.mx/musicos-de-la-ofj-caroline-bembia/?
ART & CULTURE
Musicians of the OFJ: Caroline Bembia
Did you know that a Juilliard graduate from New York plays harp in the Orquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco? Her name is Caroline Bembia, and she thrills the audience in every concert with the sound of her harp.
How old was she when she started playing this instrument? How did she wind up in Guadalajara? What’s the difference for a musician, between being in New York and being in Guadalajara? What does she like to do in our city? Keep reading and discover!
Caroline Bembia was born and raised in New York. At the age of five, she began to play the piano. One day her mother took her to see the New York Philharmonic. Caroline was fascinated by the sound of the harp and decided that she wanted to learn to play that instrument, too. That´s how she found what she wanted to do with her life, at seven years of age.
When she was eleven, she entered Julliard Pre-College, a program for students under 18 who have the talent and potential to begin a music career.
Six years later, the harpist traveled to Toronto, Canada, to continue her studies, and a couple of years later came back to Juilliard, obtaining her Bachelor´s and Master´s Degrees there.
Bembia lived in New York for a while; however, being a musician in that city was not easy. “Working as a musician in New York is really difficult because it is extremely expensive to live there, there are many musicians, lots of competition, and not much work.”
One night in July, 2017, Bembia got a message from a friend that said she had been invited to play with the Orquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco the next day.
“My friend told me, ‘You have a flight in three hours’ and I said, ‘WHAT??!’ I packed and rushed to the airport. They sent me an e-mail with the music I needed to study, and throughout the night I read it on the airplane. At 10 in the morning on Sunday, I had arrived in Guadalajara. It was my first visit to Mexico and I didn’t know a word of Spanish. That afternoon I went to the Teatro Degollado to practice on the harp, but with no chance of rehearsing with the orchestra. That night I performed in a concert with Plácido Domingo, and I think it went quite well.”
That was how she came to know our city and our Orchestra. In September of that same year, she was invited back to play in a concert. A few months later, she auditioned and officially joined the OFJ--in December, 2017.
Caroline Bembia in the OFJ
According to Bembia, the OFJ has high energy, great passion, and a lot of enthusiasm. The environment is warm and welcoming.
Being the OFJ´s official harpist comes with two big responsibilities: Keeping the rhythm going and being a soloist. With regard to the rhythm: “I need to be very exact in my rhythm, because I´m often playing together with the cellos and basses.” For “being a soloist”, Bembia is referring to the harp solos written into various orchestral works. For her, these solos are the way she maintains her identity.
Among her favorite composers are the Frenchmen Debussy and Ravel, in addition to the Germans Wagner and Strauss.
Life in Guadalajara
I asked for her first impression of the incredible Teatro Degollado: [I thought] “’How unusual, amazing’” There is no architecture like this in the United States, nothing like this theater; it´s beautiful.”
One of the other things she likes about our city is that it´s much calmer than New York; there are lots of people but not a lot of stress, and she thinks people are happier here.
The biggest challenge of living in Mexico for her has been the language, but I can attest that she already has it under control for practical purposes. “People here have helped me with my Spanish. Everywhere I speak Spanish very badly, but people always help me.”
Bembia also enjoys the climate, which she described as “perfect”. In addition, she likes Mexican cuisine very much. What she likes best, though, is the ease with which concerts and other cultural projects can come to fruition: “I really like the fact that there are so many opportunities for projects. For example, if I want to present a solo harp concert, it´s really easy. In New York there is a lot of paperwork, a lot of signatures needed; it´s very complicated, but here it´s quite simple. I believe that people here like culture; they like music.”
Her favorite place in town is Neretta Café, where she enjoys the coffee and gelato. She is also a fan of Downtown Guadalajara.
Stay tuned because you will be able to hear and see Caroline Bembia in the OFJ during its Third 2019 Orchestra Season. We´ll know all the details very soon!
We thank Centro de Artes Suzuki for its support, including the facilities it provided for the realization of these interviews.