A harpist of unusual power and beauty.
Which is first - breadth of repertoire or musicianship? No matter. The sum total will titilate even the most jaded audience. Diana is an astounding harpist - playing pieces that range from inspired traditional-based tunes to improvisational skin-prickling scats. Consider it a blessed time, to have this music seep into your being." - Anne Emerick, Wisteria Ways concert series, January 2009
Harpist Diana Rowan's playing has been described as having "unusual power and beauty." Born in Ireland, she lived and studied on the East Coast, in Europe and the Middle East before settling in Berkeley, California. Each place profoundly influenced her music, which weaves Western classical sensibilities with Balkan, Sephardic and Middle Eastern inspiration, emphasizing both the primal and ethereal aspects of the harp, ancient and modern.
While traveling the world influenced Diana's music, the people around her had an even stronger impact:
"Everything aligned," says Diana Rowan, speaking of the pivotal concert where she first heard historical harp and saw some of the people who would be important in her music life later on. A friend [Anna Kallis, high school friend from the Cyprus years, designer of all Diana's graphic art] had persuaded her to go to a performance of San Francisco Bay Area favorites Kitka and the Ensemble Alcatraz. It was a meditation concert, with no applause. The musicians sat in the center of a circle, with the audience surrounding them. The whole experience was a revelation for classically trained Diana. The Balkan music of Kitka, then directed by Bon Singer, brought nostalgia for Diana's youth, living in Cyprus and Iraq. Ensemble Alcatraz, with Shira Kammen on vielle, Peter Maund as percussionist, and Cheryl Ann Fulton playing her historical harp, captured Diana completely with their classical discipline yet playful spirit. - from the interview with Meghan Collins, Harpbeat Fall 2008
Leaving her former life as a classical concert pianist, Diana studied with Cheryl and Maureen Brennan, and now collaborates frequently with Bon, Peter, and Shira, as well as beloved newer acquaintances:
"I believe music is the creation of much more than the actual performer. All people who have come before, the 'muse' or collective consciousness, the audience in its widest sense, all hugely affect the emerging piece of art. I think the time of lionizing the individual performer is waning, and the realization that we co-create art and life is dawning."
Performing worldwide (from the Australian Harp Festival to the Smithsonian to medieval Cypriot halls) and recording frequently, Diana can be heard on many CDs and soundtracks for film and TV, including her two solo albums Panta Rhei and The Bright Knowledge.
"Diana's shining soul and sparkling personality are conducted through her fingers through her harp to the very heart of any listener. She could take Happy Birthday and interpret in such a way that you'd laugh, cry and change your life." - Bon Singer, premier conductor of Balkan music in the US, founder of Kitka and Ya Elah
"Extremely beautiful playing...most gratifying...such fine musicianship" - San Francisco Classical Voice
"Her harp is lyrical and ethereal, yes, but also uncommonly primal and percussive, rife with her signature follow-through, where even aural decay delivers deeply felt musical nuance." - Laura Glen Louis, author of "Talking in the Dark"
"You are truly a gift sent to me by the Harp Gods...you are the culmination of all my work, the highlight of my entire harp making career. There is no one I've ever heard that is so "at one" with the Nova harp, and takes it on journeys that can't even be imagined by others." - John Westling, master luthier and creator of Diana's harps