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Classical guitarist to play at the Port Theatre

Eric Harper to play new songs composed during the pandemic
Victoria-based guitarist Eric Harper performs at the Port Theatre on Nov. 27. (Photo credit Tatum Duryba)

Victoria-based guitarist Eric Harper comes to Nanaimo to perform his music and tell the stories behind the songs.

On Nov. 27 the classically trained flamenco guitar player takes to the Port Theatre stage for his first Nanaimo show in “a few years.” Throughout the pandemic he’s been writing and releasing new singles and he’ll be playing some of those new tunes at the concert. Harper will be performing on his own, drawing from his guitar as many sounds as he can without the use of technology or special effects.

“I’ll be playing the bass and the middle and the high notes all on the guitar, along with my voice,” he said. “So I try to produce as much sound coming out of those two instruments as I can without relying on any external machinery as best I can.”

With other work opportunities drying up due to COVID-19 – aside from performing, Harper is also a producer and composes film and television scores – Harper found time to start a new project and make some progress on a long-term one.

“Any time you go through a crisis it becomes time to ponder and reflect what’s important in your life,” Harper said. “So that’s certainly given me some time to see, well, have I been enjoying the path I’m going down? Or is there something I’ve been wanting to do that I haven’t been focusing on that I can maybe focus on now?”

For young musicians new to the guitar, Harper started posting short tutorial videos online covering basic concepts like how chords work and how to play a scale.

“I thought to myself, ‘What would be interesting for a youth who’s very busy … and maybe doesn’t have a lot of attention?’” Harper said. “So I thought, ‘What if I did a one-minute tutorial? What could I teach a youth between the ages of 12 and 18? What can I teach them about music in one minute?’”

For the past 14 years Harper’s been chipping away at a musical he’s writing about a clock that “doesn’t want to tell the time but he wants to tell the truth” and goes on a Little Prince-style journey meeting a string of caricature-like characters along the way. Harper’s made some progress on the project over the last few months but notes that “musical” is perhaps not the right word.

“It’s not exactly a musical. It’s more like the Blue Man Group meets a story about a clock focused primarily on guitars, if that makes any sense at all,” he said. “Because when you hear ‘musical’ you sort of think of Hamilton or you think of The Sound of Music, but it’s nothing like that.”

WHAT’S ON … Eric Harper performs at the Port Theatre, 125 Front St., on Nov. 27 at 7:30 p.m. In-theatre tickets sold out; live-stream tickets $12, available here.

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