About John Doan

John Doan is a master and muse of the harp guitar and stringed instruments. He is a music historian, performer, and professor at Willamette University.

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John Doan a pioneer of the twenty-string harp guitar. He is also an Emmy-nominated performer, composer, public speaker, historian, instrument collector, and university professor. Upcoming concerts are listed in the calendar and news, updates, and articles can be found on John’s blog.

John Doan performs internationally on stage and at fairs and festivals, dazzling audiences with the harp guitar and other multiple stringed instruments. Upcoming concerts include:

John Doan Victorian Chirstmas ConcertsJohn Doan’s Victorian Christmas Concert tour is lining up for winter 2012. Concerts in Arizona and Oregon are confirmed. Stay tuned for more news or subscribe to the site or email alerts to be notified of upcoming concerts.

To listen to samples of John Doan’s music and buy CDs, visit the Discography pages where CDs, DVDs, Sampler Releases, and Sheet Music.

John Doan Harp Guitar RetreatJohn Doan offers group, private, and college courses on the harp guitar, multiple string instruments, history of music, and more. The annual Harp Guitar Retreat in his home in Salem, Oregon, is every July. This year’s Harp Guitar Retreat is Fifth Annual Harp Guitar Retreat July 6-8, 2012, and registration is now open.

Contact John Doan for more information on performances, speaking, and concerts, or if you have questions about the annual Harp Guitar Retreat.

To learn more about John Doan, check out his blog, biography, read press reviews of concerts and recordings, watch videos, view a gallery of fascinating string instruments from around the world and throughout history, many of them from John’s collection.

John Doan on the Harpolyre – Three-Necked Harp Guitar

john Doan Primal Twang Harpolyre  - Photo, Erin Fitzgerald Taylor GuitarsMy YouTube videos playing the harpolyre continue to get a lot of attention, and I wanted to share with you a little of the backstory of this amazing three-necked harp guitar.

In an effort to bring history to the harp guitar I discovered ten works for the harpolyre written by Fernando Sor, known as the Father of the Classical Guitar. The amazing thing about these compositions is not only are they extremely tender and lyric pieces, but they had never been played since 1830 and perhaps have never actually been heard in public until my recording “The Lost Music of Fernando Sor” along with my live performances and YouTube videos. I felt like Indiana Jones uncovering this forgotten music for a forgotten instrument.

I ordered the microfilm of this music in 1977 from the La Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) and with this extremely rare and beautiful music in my hands, I could only dream of finding one of a handful of existing harpolyres upon which to really recreate these beautiful musical pieces. After thirty years of the hunt, I was blessed to find a circa 1830 harpolyre that had been restored to near pristine condition.


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Fifth Annual Harp Guitar Retreat July 6-8, 2012

John Doan Harp Guitar Retreat Harpolyre Lessons

John Doan teaches the first harpolyre lesson in nearly 200 years at his Annual Harp Guitar Retreat

The 5th Annual Harp Guitar Retreat is set for July 6-8, 2012, in my home in Salem, Oregon.

If you are not familiar with the Harp Guitar Retreat, it is an intimate and stress-free environment where harp guitar aficionados gather for a weekend retreat for harp guitar all the way all the time.

The weekend includes instruction and inspiration on harp guitar playing skills. I’m available to the students throughout the entire weekend to work with them privately or in groups on the art of the harp guitar. Instruments are available on site for practice and experimenting with the different types of harp guitars. We keep the educational seminar limited to five to seven participants for in depth study and exploration of the guitar.

The schedule includes two daily group sessions and a half hour private session, an evening concert on Friday and Saturday, with an optional participant concert Sunday night. Fees include meals, lodging, private and group sessions, and concerts. Spouses and guests are also welcome to join us, and there are many things for them to do as well as you including hiking, tax free shopping, local wine tasting, hot tub, trampoline, and wireless Internet. It’s a lovely part of the state and there is so much to see and do, or you can just enjoy the beautiful mountain top view of the area and relax reading or napping in the garden.

Participants Fee: $685
Includes four nights stay, three private sessions, six group sessions, meals, evening -presentations, and various incidentals.

Additional guests Fee: $250
Includes four nights stay, meals, evening presentations, and various incidentals.

For a registration form or more information, see the Annual Harp Guitar Retreat page, call or write:

harpguitar@gmail.com
503-364-478
PO Box 5081, Salem, OR 97304

Victorian Christmas in Arizona 2012

John Doan in concert with harp guitar closeup on stage Jenks Hall Portland OregonJohn Doan returns to Arizona with his Emmy-nominated Victorian Christmas Concert, Sunday, December 23rd, 2012, at Higley Center For The Performing Arts at 2:30PM.

He brings two dozen instruments from a century ago, a parlor set, archival photos of people caught in the act of entertaining themselves, leads group sing-alongs, and lots of laughter and fun. Don’t miss this historic event!

John Doan Concert in Anaheim September 15, 2012

Eire - Isle of the SaintsEire – Isle of the Saints
by John Doan
CD Price $15.97

The Living Tradition Concert Series represented by Gary Trobridge will present “A Celtic Pilgrimage with John Doan,” Saturday, September 15th, 2012, at The Anaheim Downtown Community Center at 7:30PM. The concert will feature music from John Doan’s award winning recording “Eire – Isle of the Saints” (Winner of “Best Celtic Album of the Year”) and “Wayfarer” (also nominated for the same title).

John’s playing of the 20 string harp guitar takes audiences on a Celtic pilgrimage to the sites made famous by St. Patrick and others during the Golden Age of Ireland. These sites a millennium ago were imaginatively called “Thin Places” where it was believed the space between heaven and earth, and past and future, were thinly divided. The audience is transported back to the very sites where the music was composed enhanced by masterful storytelling.

The Living Tradition is a non-profit organization working for the preservation of traditional music and dance in Southern California. They host contra dances, contemporary and traditional folk music concerts, and traditional music jams nearly every month at the beautiful Anaheim Downtown Community Center in Anaheim, California.

John Doan Concert Tour in Europe 2012

John Doan Concert Poster for Moscow and St Petersburg in Russia and then Ukraine 2012John Doan will be touring in Europe this coming May starting off in Ukraine cities of L’viv and Kiev. Various concerts are scheduled in Germany and Austria and will also include performances in Russia as well. Concerts, workshops and lectures will be conducted in L’viv, Kiev and in Moscow. It will also include many firsts.

John Doan will be formally debuting the 20 string harp guitar Saturday May 5th and Sunday May 6th in concerts in Ukraine, where copies of his Elliott/Sullivan harp guitar will be made in a factory in L’viv. John will soon be posting videos and blog entries about his visit to the Trembita instrument factory of L’viv that will be the first company to manufacture this version of the harp guitar worldwide in cooperation with Jay Buckey Music.

In Russia John will be playing on Thursday May 17th at their first NAMM show (National Association of Music Marketers) and it will be quite the honor to also play elsewhere in the city in the beautiful concert atmosphere of the former 18th Century Roman Catholic Church of Mary Magdalene on Sunday May 20th. His performances in Moscow will introduce the harp guitar in performance for the first time, and he will be performing for the first time ever in Berlin, too.

The Bandura, a Ukrainian stringed instrument that shares various similarities to the harp guitar, is a much beloved national instrument. John will be consulting with Jay Buckey and others on developing more 21 string harp guitars based upon his original Elliott/Sullivan harp guitar, hopefully helping Ukrainians expand their vision for the Bandura into the 21st century! The first concert May 6th will feature Jay Buckey and two Ukrainian vocalists, Alla, and Peter, in cooperation with Trembita instrument factory of L’viv, and celebrating the harp guitar worldwide.

John Doan will perform in Kiev, the capitol of Ukraine, opening with Revatsky Boys Choir under the direction of its chief conductor Aida Zaytseve.

On Friday, May 11th and Saturday, May 12th, 2012, John plays in Germany at the Paul-Gerhardt-Haus in Schwerte and Aula der Realschule in Olpe as part of the international guitar night featuring Fancois Sciortino (France), Andrea Valeri (Italy), and Stefan Moenkemeyer (Germany). Even though John by himself will have more strings on his harp guitar that all the other guitarists combined each of them are so amazing that they will sound like they have as many strings and more than John. Be forewarned, guitarists attending may be inspired to do violent acts to their guitars after seeing this concert. The sponsors take no responsibility for the well being of such guitars.
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John Doan at Faerieworlds Harvest Festival July 28, 2012

John Doan in concert, telling stories from the stage at the Folk Life FestivalSaturday, July 28th, 2012, John Doan will be performing mid day on the open air stage at the annual Faerieworlds Harvest Festival with his harp guitar.

The Faerieworlds Harvest Festival is in Eugene, Oregon, and features music and crafts celebrating the faeries of Bryon Froud.

Beyond Six Strings – From Sor to Hendrix

Last October I had a chance to conduct a Sor Symposium and debut a new show “Beyond Six Strings – from Sor to Hendrix” at Marylhurst University in Portland, Oregon. Months before I had an opportunity to talk with Peter Zisa who conducts the guitar program there about my research in the life and music of Sor, and he suggested that Marylhurst University host a Sor Symposium. Peter is not only a great player and elegant human being, he has such a great imagination and he coordinated with several teacher/performers in the area to have students come to a master class and themselves participate in the Symposium. Both the class and the Symposium went incredibly well.

Peter reviewed the event as follows:

“Marylhurst hosted an historic performance by John Doan on three beautiful and historic instruments. John’s blend of remarkable skills as a storyteller and masterful performer proved to be the highlight of the two-day Sor Symposium. John, who began his performance with his own music and arrangements on harp guitar, concluded the program with a historic premier performance of Sor’s music for the three-necked harpolyre. The pieces, which varied in level of technical difficulty from intermediate to virtuosic, charmed and moved the spellbound audience.”

Fan, Shannon J. Murphy, had this to say about the concert:

I was present at the concert at Marylhurst and was able to relive it as I read your account here. It was a beautiful presentation and I know your future audiences at this concert are going to love it as much as I did. Your description of Sor and his musical technique struck me as being just what I could say of you and yours. You are the instrument that makes the music flow. Continue to walk in the light.

In short, it was a kick!! It seemed crazy to combine in the same show the music of Fernando Sor – the “Father of the classical guitar” with the music of Jimi Hendrix and other contemporary guitar innovators but as the show evolved it flowed beautifully into an event that reached across time, generations, and cultures. Continue reading

Interview: John Doan Concert in Rigomagno, Italy

John Doan in Six Bars Jail Concert 2010, ItalyFollowing is an interview published after my visit and concert in Rigomagno – a thousand year old hilltop village in Tuscany, Italy. Used with permission.

We are curious to know how it all began: it’s such a peculiar instrument, how did you get interested in the harp-guitar?

In a world increasingly filled with machine made things that are all made the same I have found it refreshing to celebrate the unusual. I grew up in Venice, California in the United States – a place inspired by Venezia in Italy. I guess beauty and the unusual seemed to go together in my youth and while in my teens I played the 12 string guitar and a double neck electric in a rock band. Later, while studying music at a university I was introduced to classical guitar. I really enjoyed the music for the lute and was amazed at the sound of its many strings. When I later found a century old harp guitar on the back wall of a music store it called to me with its beautiful shape and unusual collection of extra strings. I was achingly curious and wanted to transform its silence and neglect into something alive and vibrant. It was and continues to be an adventure to play music on the harp guitar.

What’s the origin of the harp-guitar? And what about your instrument? Did you have it built especially for you? In this case, where did you find the model? Is it an original model you designed?

John Doan & Six Bar Jail Guitar club in Florence ItalyThe harp guitar in America was first popular from the 1890’s through the 1920’s. People played them in mandolin orchestras, vaudeville shows, and in their parlors. In Europe the harp guitar was becoming popular as early as the 1840’s and grew in popularity up through the early 1900’s especially in Germany and in Italy. Pasquale Taraffo is one of the great Italian masters of the instrument in the early 20th century. To learn more about this amazing player from your own history check out the information on Taraffo on the Harp Guitars site.

Regarding my instrument, I commissioned it in 1986 from John Sullivan with oversight and design by Jeffrey Elliott of Portland, Oregon. Jeffrey had made guitars for Julian Bream, Ralph Towner, etc. and I was excited to see how he would approach the challenges of so many strings and meet my requirements of evenness of tone using steel strings. Although based on the Knutsen, Dyer, and Gibson harp guitars from a century earlier it was completely redesigned to be a master instrument that would sound evenly across all its range (like the piano). It is considered the “first modern harp guitar” of our times. Scores of copies have been made and it was recently on the cover of the magazine “American Lutherie.”
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