Heads Up! This article is 9 years old.
When you talk to Hope Arthur about her music, it’s clear that music isn’t just a hobby or a once-in-a-while thing; it’s her passion. And while most of her peers are still figuring out what types of artists they want to be, Arthur seems to have already progressed beyond that, repeatedly going down the road less travelled – and that has made all the difference. Arthur, currently a student at IPFW majoring in music, has played piano since her childhood, but exactly how long she has been playing is up for debate.
“I don’t really remember when I started playing,” Arthur says. “I say it was when I was nine, but my mom says it was at eight.” Either way, Arthur has many years of playing under her belt already, most notably as a student at Concordia High School and IPFW, Arthur is also well versed in jazz and classical piano and is an instructor at Sweetwater Academy of Music and an accompanist with the Fort Wayne Ballet. That’s quite a resumé for someone still in their early 20s.
“All through grade school and high school, I was in choir, band, marching band and theater,” Arthur said, “but I didn’t start writing my own songs until I was 18 or 19.” That’s when Arthur returned from a one-year trip to Thailand, a trip she took as part of an Rotary Club exchange program. She started writing music in Thailand around 2007 and declared music as her major when she returned to IPFW. She hasn’t looked back since.
Arthur has been seen playing solo shows in and around The Fort and has released an EP. More recently, though, she has changed her musical direction a bit and “decided to try the ‘orchestra thing.’”
The decision to add musicians to her music came about naturally. “People would always tell me that they thought there was more to my music than what they were hearing and that I should get a band. I didn’t want the traditional bass, guitar and drums, though. I knew that if I had a band, I wanted an orchestra.”
Perhaps fueling that desire to some degree was a year-long orchestration course Arthur took from Dr. Chris Rutkowski at IPFW. Sometime over that period, Rutkowski suggested she orchestrate all her songs for the class.
It sounded like a challenge she couldn’t pass up. “I started writing out the parts in January of 2012, took a break from it over the summer, then started again last fall. The class is recording the songs as part of their class project, and I get an album out of it.”
Arthur performed her first live show with the orchestra a few weeks ago at The Fort Wayne Fringe Festival, a gathering of regional music, theatre and dance performers. By all accounts it went quite well. As the orchestra idea evolves, however, Arthur is realistic about the limitations having such a large band can place on her.
“It’s difficult to find space for a band that size,” she said. “There are 20 different people who perform on my songs. Not everyone plays on every song, but there are 20 people who have parts in different songs,” which makes it a challenge to find places with enough space with which to work. Last, but not least, coordinating that many people on a regular basis can be a headache in and of itself.
“The plan of attack is: if they can come, that’s awesome. I just have to accept that I might not have everybody there at every show. “
If it’s not already evident from what we have learned so far, Hope Arthur is not your average, everyday singer/songwriter. More proof lays in the inspiration for her songs.
“I grew up listening to Bjork, She’s a big influence,” Arthur said of the quirky songstress. “And I’ve travelled a lot. I’ve been to Thailand, Germany, England and Eastern Europe. I’ve also read a lot of German literature” as part of the requirements for her second major, German. “The Balkans are a huge influence as well.”
With songs about materialism, transformation, an insightful commentary about why people do the things they do and how we can better understand them – not to mention a song based on The Bridge on the Drina, a Yugoslavian novel set in the 1500’s – it’s safe to say Arthur’s music is likely as educational as it is inspiring.
Arthur’s new album, as yet untitled, should be fully recorded by May and ready for release by June. “That’s my goal,” she said. “After that, I may tour, I may move. I don’t know. I’m up for just about anything. I feel like whatever happens, everything will fall into place.”
For someone as intelligent, talented and driven as Arthur appears to be, there’s no doubt that it will.