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The City Journals

Harp Twins again bring charisma, talent to West Valley

Jun 06, 2017 11:47AM ● By Travis Barton

Kennerly Witt plays “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses on a grand concert harp. The duo arrange all their songs themselves. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

By Travis Barton | [email protected]
Can you play a grand concert harp backwards? The Harp Twins can, and they did it in West Valley City enchanting the audience in the process. 
The famous Harp Twins duo Camille and Kennerly Witt returned to West Valley City on April 26 to play a free concert at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center (UCCC).
“It was really good,” said Corey Rushton, who was instrumental in bringing the harpists to the city.
The duo, known for their duet harp arrangements of songs from bands such as Iron Maiden and Metallica and from the HBO series “Game of Thrones”, originally came to West Valley City almost two years ago at the request of then-councilman Rushton.
Rushton came across the duo online and thought their style would be very appropriate to West Valley City audiences and the UCCC venue. Having kept in touch since the first concert, they were able to set up a free second concert.
“The last concert was so good and so much fun, it was always ‘hey, let’s try to find another opportunity,’” Rushton said. “You know when something’s right because it comes together.”
With the help of Rocky Mountain Power and SNOGO sponsorships, the concert was held with free admission. Audience members enjoyed the show that included music from both grand concert and electric harps.
“They actually help inspire me to play the harp,” said Sydney Mceuen, 16.
Mceuen has been playing the harp for three years and said it is great to see high-quality harpists.
“Right now they’re setting the standard,” Mceuen added.
Their excellence was on display during the two-hour concert as the twins played songs such as “Dust in the Wind” and “Stairway to Heaven” on the grand concert harps. While on the electric harps they played songs such as the “Game of Thrones” theme song or “Fear of the Dark” by Iron Maiden.
But for Lacy Reynolds, 25, who teaches the harp at Summerhays Music in Murray and started playing at age 11, the highlight was the duo’s rendition of “One” by Metallica. The twins play the song on the same grand concert harp.
“It’s the fact that they’re playing the harp at the same time with their arms intercrossing one another which is really difficult to do. I can’t even imagine. And then not only playing backwards but switching positions and then back, which is incredible,” said Reynolds.
While the twins’ talents were on display throughout the night, the songs were interspersed with them jovially interacting with the crowd. They told stories and dressed as their own tech crew. The duo carries their own equipment to and from shows.
One story they told was how their college professor said they would never make it as a rock harp duo and needed to split up.
“This one’s for you, Professor,” Camille said right before they played “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC.
The Chicago natives held a meet and greet with fans before and after the show.
“The meet and greet I think is definitely an essential part of their show,” Rushton said. “I talk to people who say ‘yeah, the show was great but meeting and talking to them a little bit is icing on the cake.”
The twins experimental nature with a classically associated instrument will be welcome back anytime, Rushton said.
“There’s a lot of interest here. (West Valley City would love) to have them come back in some form or fashion in the future, and we support them and appreciate what they do,” he said.
UCCC Plaza Opening
With the famous Kitt twins unleashing their musical talents in the ballroom area, the night had also been planned for the open house of the UCCC’s finished plaza level.
“Since (the Harp Twins) other concert was such a big hit and drew people from all over (including Wyoming and Idaho) it was kind of a natural ‘hey, let’s kill two birds with one stone,’” Rushton said.
With the plaza level (located on the basement floor) having been under construction for almost a year, Visual and Performing Arts Manager Michael Christensen said they wanted to coordinate an opening that would maximize the outcome.
“We find with our programming if we can be strategic and combine those things, then it’s better for everybody involved, for our staff and their efforts, and also for the public and community to enjoy,” Christensen said.
The plaza level consists of various classrooms, informal meeting rooms, a great hall and a dance studio—all of which have audio-visual capabilities.
Christensen said it also has catering possibilities, liquor service, festival grounds and the outdoor amphitheater.
“It’s a true event center,” he said.