2017 Highlights in Harp News

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As 2017 comes to a close, we’re looking back at another fascinating year of harp news we reported on here at Harp Column. The past 12 months have been rich with amazing opportunities for harpists and celebrations of their success. We gathered for festivals large and small around the world—from the World Harp Congress in Hong Kong to the American Harp Society (AHS) Summer Institute in Minnesota. And we cheered some of the world’s most inspiring harpists on as they were honored with awards and prizes.

Here are some highlights from 2017.

Honoring Harpists

German harpist Florence Sitruk received one of the biggest honors of the year when she was appointed the new harp professor at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, replacing the legendary Susann McDonald. Look for our feature interview with Sitruk coming up in the Jan-Feb 2018 issue of the magazine.

Lifetime Achievement Awards went to Laurie Riley, from the Somerset Folk Harp Festival, and Barbara Weiger Lepke-Sims, from the American Harp Society. The League of American Orchestras bestowed its highest honor, the Gold Baton award, upon Ann Hobson Pilot, principal harpist for 40 years with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and first African American woman to serve in a principal position with a major orchestra.

We also honored the life of French pedagogue Germain Lorenzini. Her passing on Feb. 4, 2017, evoked heartfelt reactions from her former students. Isabelle Moretti wrote, “She had a full laugh—in-your-face, generous; it was a smoker’s laugh, a bon vivant’s!”

Awards

Angelica Hairston received the Arts Leadership Grant from the NPR radio show From the Top, which provides $5,000 to support her project Challenge the Stats (CTS) that lays out a practicable path to positive change. Look for Hairston’s Sounding Board article about her experience developing her CTS project coming up in the Jan-Feb 2018 of Harp Column.

The Debussy Trio received the 2017 National Federation of Music Clubs Centennial Chamber Music Award and $1,000 prize for their latest CD, Three by Three. The Federation acknowledged the ensemble’s “innovative approach to presenting chamber music with wide audience appeal” and “high standard of excellence for the performance of American Music.”

Rachel Lee Hall was selected as a winner of the Astral Artists 2017 National Auditions, becoming one of only three other harpists who have managed to attain this prestigious prize in previous years: Caroline Cole, Emily Levin, and Bridget Kibbey.

Competitions

With so many harp competitions available these days, there are opportunities on every continent for every level of harpist, and plenty of moments to shine. This February, in the Ukraine, Maria Pozdnyakova (Russia) and Oksana Sidyagina (Russia) took top honors in the Glowing Harp competition. In Belgium, this April, the Félix Godefroid competition recognized Marika Cecilia Riedl (Germany), Richard Allen (UK), and Joost Willemze (Netherlands) in their top category. And Noelia Cotuna snatched first prize at the Camac Competition in London this May.

This summer saw another edition of the popular AHS National Competition and the Lyon & Healy Awards, held during the national conference in Minnesota. Three L&H Awards went to Madeline Jarzembak (San Francisco, CA), Subin Lee (Seoul, South Korea) and Ching Wei Lin (Pittsburgh, PA). First prize in the top division of the AHS National Competition was awarded to Abigail Kent, who will now replace Katherine Siochi as the AHS Concert Artist.

The end of the year featured a victory by Italian harpist Enea Cavallo in the 5th Mexico International Harp Competition and Festival and Madeline Olson in Japan’s Nippon Harp Competition.

New Creations

We’ve also seen countless examples of artistic creativity and entrepreneurship in the global harp community. Rachel Brandwein helped inspire young composers with the launch of the AHS Young Composers Project. Jaymee Haefner published a new book, One Stone to the Building, on the life and work of Henriette Renié. Harp makers unveiled two innovative new harp models—the Delta harp and the Mariachi—at the National Association of Music Merchants show. And several fresh albums of music hit the shelves, including “Voyage” by Cristina Montes Mateo and “Oslo(ve)” by Uno Vesje.

We’re looking forward to what 2018 will bring—be sure to send us your harp news in the new year. Email press releases to info@harpcolumn.com.

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