My name is Lucie Hendry and I’m a lever harpist, originally from Aberdeenshire. I graduated from the traditional music program at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2018. As a young musician I was looking forward to getting my professional career up and running but then surprise, surprise, covid arrived on the scene… Interestingly, this projected me on a completely different musical path to what I expected or had planned.
Mid-pandemic (and just prior to Brexit), an opportunity came up to relocate to Esbjerg in Denmark as my boyfriend studied music there. I felt compelled to go and try out life there while seeking new work opportunities, considering I had never studied abroad or really spent much time away from Scotland. I was intrigued to learn of another culture and I also felt curious as to how my music and instrument would be perceived. A year and a half later, I find myself in a cosy or “hyggelig”* cafe – as the Danes would call it – on the main street of Esbjerg, reflecting on the experiences of my time spent in the country, the work I have done and the lovely people I have met here.
Although there is a strong presence of Nordic folk music culture here, especially as Esbjerg hosts the only folk course at university level in Denmark, I have instead found myself immersed and connecting mostly with musicians from the Danish jazz scene. My primary contact with musicians in the city has been through the Syddansk Musikkonservatorium (equivalent to Glasgow’s Royal Conservatoire of Scotland). Here I have had the absolute privilege to get to know some amazing musicians, play alongside them and hear weekly concert recitals. As rhythmic and jazz music once upon a time baffled me due to its complexity, I can now say that I bear that bit more understanding and even more respect for the music! The Danish jazz music scene is big and perhaps rhythm and jazz could be the most popular form of music to study across the country.
I can say hands down, the Danes are altogether lovely and I was welcomed from the very start of my time here. Although you could probably count the number of harps in Denmark on two hands, it has been a delight to go to a new place that has had genuine curiosity and acceptance for my instrument and the music that I have brought with me. Living in Denmark has provided me with a lot of space to refine my practice as a harpist and also to write a whole lot of new music. There have been many hours spent in my room with my harp, laptop and Sibelius music scoring program as my constant companions. That alone time has definitely not been spent in vain, as in 2021 I launched a new composition project called ‘Hygge Tunes with Lucie’. The idea being that I release a new piece of music for harp every month, both in video and sheet music download. The plan is to release 12 tunes all in all and I’m going to compile these during the summer months into my first music book. This project has been a joy as it has given me a great compositional focus each month, helped me practice recording and filming myself (which isn’t always so comfortable!), and has also provided an outlet to share my work as I love to compose! Most of the tunes I have written are as a result of my thoughts and observations while spent living here; such as the nature, environmental issues, places etc… You can check out the tunes on my YouTube channel: Lucie Hendry, or my website: www.luciehendry.com/sheetmusic.
During my time here, I have graciously received some funding to go towards producing an album in Denmark with some musicians from Esbjerg. During the past half year, I have been working closely with two great musicians: Christoffer Skovhus on drums and Dennis Iversen on electric guitar. This has been my first chance to work with this instrumentation and I’m very much looking forward to getting to the studio and recording what we have been working on. The music is my original work, rooted in the Scottish music tradition but has taken on a new and contemporary sound with the input from Christoffer and Dennis. They bring a vast amount of experience and ideas from playing in the jazz scene, which has provided a lot of potential to explore sounds as we navigate the fusion of two different music genres. Dennis is also a mastery of pedals and has brought my younger self’s dream of using electronics with harp, to life! My music has taken a very different direction and sound here than it would have done if I had stayed in Scotland the past year and a half. I am just so thankful that I have had the opportunity to work with these musicians, to have their input and the chance to create something brand new.
The plan is to go to the studio in June with the view to releasing the album later this year. I am very excited to finally release the music rather than keeping it solely for my own ears (and perhaps the neighbours too…). And I am also excited to share the talents and music of two great Danish musicians. It is a real privilege to work with musicians from different cultures and traditions and I would certainly recommend to anyone who might be considering a move of any kind. It’s such enriching and refining life experience and I can say that I have had absolutely no regrets about moving! No matter where I end up in the future, I know that I will always keep the friendships from my time spent in Denmark. Music has an extraordinary power to connect people on a deeper level than words can, regardless of where you come from. The music that will be laid down in the studio in June will be testament to that and a wonderful reminder personally that everything ventured, everything gained.
* “Hygge” implies the feeling of coziness, connection and good times – integral part of Danish life and culture!
To keep up to date on Lucie’s projects, follow her on Facebook and Instagram. Find out more about Lucie Hendry through her website: www.luciehendry.com