Some of classical music's more menacing denizens have made no attempt to hide their tawdry love affair with heavy metal and its similarly melodramatic virtuosity, self-seriousness and hair. In 1996, three cellists from Finland dubbed themselves Apocalyptica and released a record of quintessential Metallica hits, while Metallica themselves performed with the San Francisco Symphony for 1999's live retrospective S&M.
On the other side of the continent, Ashley Toman and Patricia Kline took up the concert harp and were on their way to completing master's-level educations at the Eastman School, one of the nation's finest music conservatories. Who would've imagined that these classical darlings would go from hotel high tea and light opera to trysts with Metallica's repertoire?
Harptallica's tour posters present two towering harps and two jeans-clad, generally badass-looking babes, arms crossed, bathed in blood-red light. And despite the obvious irony, the music is dead serious. In concert, Toman and Kline shred fearsome glissandos and arpeggios with the pomp and circumstance of any respectable metal shredder, precisely re-creating "Fade to Black" and several Master of Puppets classics, "One," "The Unforgiven" and "Enter Sandman," to name a few. It's damned surreal.
Calling a harp's inherently delicate sound a little hemmed-in and subdued compared to Metallica's assault is an understatement, but that contrast is what makes Harptallica so delightful. This all-ages show should have young metal fanatics aching to apply to music school.
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