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Born of this alchemy…artists and artisans together in Paris

Regular readers of our news pages will be aware that our new Concert Grand harps, the Canopée and the Art Nouveau, are touring the world for their presentations in different countries. Following Hong Kong, then the USA, we enjoyed a particularly special day at home in Paris. The artisans who create these instruments transformed L’Espace Camac into an atelier for the day, and it was a perfect chance to find out in detail how they work. Many thanks to Jean-Bernard Jouteau (sculptor), Sophie Poyer (decorative painting), and Jocelyne and Christophe Réal (inlays) for their demonstrations and explanations. 

Jocelyne Réal was particularly informative about the substitutes she uses for ivory, and other woods that are now no longer permitted. The use of environmentally-responsible equivalents is part of all serious twenty-first-century craftsmanship. The launch of our new Concert Grand harps, including a Canopée made with Amara Macassar ebony, also sparked a couple of questions about our environmental policies for the wood department. Macassar Ebony is an endangered species, listed as vulnerable due to a population reduction of over 20% in the past three generations, caused by a decline in its natural range, and exploitation. As such, you are only allowed to use sources that are already cut. 

We however are using Amara Macassar. This is a farmed species, grown as a sustainable alternative to “true” Macassar ebony. A similar potential source of confusion would be the Brazilian rosewood we use for our Elysée. Brazilian rosewood is critically endangered. Brazilian Santos rosewood is not, and this is what we use. All woods used for Camac harps come from certified sustainable sources (FSC-PEFC). We publish a summary of both our environmental and social practices on our website, under ‘Quality and Directives’. More detailed information is available on request. 

Following our open-house atelier, we all decamped to the Salle Cortot for a wonderful concert by Isabelle Moretti and Sylvain Blassel. As our president, Jakez François, wrote shortly afterwards on his Facebook page: 

“The presentation of a new harp is a special moment in the life of a harp maker. First of all, it is the fruit of years of work and research, and of the highs and lows of secret prototypes in the workshops. Some of these are more successful than others, before finally reaching the perfection we are looking for.

Isabelle Moretti, Jakez François, Sylvain Blassel

Isabelle Moretti, Jakez François, Sylvain Blassel, backstage at the Salle Cortot

A presentation day like this one is also a meeting between the harp maker, the audience, and the artists who are going to give life to the musical emotion born of this alchemy. At the heart of it all are the artisans, who normally work behind the scenes. I wanted to put them in the spotlight, in homage to their exceptional talent, thanks to which these new harps are a feast for the eyes as well as the ears. 

Later, on the stage of a packed Salle Cortot, we were all very moved when Isabelle Moretti and Sylvain Blassel made the harps sound for the first time in Paris. The audience, the musicians and the makers all felt immensely proud. There is no greater motivation to continue our quest for excellence, at the service of artists and of music.”

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