Leading up to the 13th World Harp Congress this July in Hong Kong, we’re talking with performers for the ever-popular WHC Focus on Youth showcase concerts. Check in each week as we present insights from these talented young artists.
Give us some background: when did you start playing, what’s your current age, and who do you study with?
I started playing the harp when I was 6 years old; and I am now 15. I studied with Sonya Yu when I was younger, but now I study with both Mrs. Yu and Mrs. Linda Wood Rollo.
Tell us about your WHC program. How did you choose your repertoire and what do you like about the music?
I’m going to be playing “Fantaisie on a theme of Haydn” (Grandjany), “Absidioles” (Andres), Sonata in A Major, K.208 (Scarlatti), and “Whirlwind” (Salzedo). One of my favorite pieces is “Whirlwind” because it’s a very unique piece, and really evocative of a wild whirlwind with its fast pace. I also particularly love “Absidioles” because I had started it when I was much younger, but came back to it as a more mature musician with a different perspective on the piece. I also love to play and listen to the “Fantaisie” and Sonata because they’re just so beautiful melodically.
What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you get to Hong Kong?
I’d like to have a conversation with a harpist from another country and ask them what it’s like to live in and to be a harpist in their country.
Which harpist do you most admire?
I really admire Henriette Renié for her musical virtuosity and her role as a prolific composer and arranger, as well as a strong, independent woman in the early 20th century.
Which harpist are you most looking forward to meeting in person at the WHC?
As well as looking forward to meeting the amazing older harpists, I’m really excited to meet and speak with the other younger harpists in the Focus on Youth concerts at the World Harp Congress.
What’s the most memorable musical performance you’e ever attended?
At the Young Artists’ Harp Seminar’s Featured Artist Concert last year, we got to listen to Katie Buckley, Marguerite Lynn Williams, Duo Scorpio, and Judy Loman. It was intriguing to see how different media of art could be combined, and one of the highlights of the concert was when Judy Loman performed (among other pieces) the Salzedo “Variations.” It was amazing to see her incredible technique and her interpretation of the piece, especially since she had studied with Salzedo himself. I think she inspired everyone at that concert to practice their trills!
What’s your most memorable performing experience?
My most memorable performing experience was playing for my siblings’ teacher’s mother, who was in her 90s and loved music. Her daughter had played her violin for her, which is why she was very disappointed when she hurt her hand and couldn’t play for her mother. When my siblings’ teacher heard that I was a harpist, she asked me to come play for her mother at her senior care facility. After playing a few hymns, I learned that it happened to be her mother’s birthday that day, and so I improvised a simple Happy Birthday song for her. We later learned that it had been her last birthday. I am so thankful that I could celebrate it with her family.
What advice would you give a young student wanting to start harp?
I would urge them to start developing a consistent practice schedule from the beginning, as I personally didn’t understand the importance of this when I was younger.
What’s the best piece of advice someone has ever given you?
“You should study the harp; I think you’d like it.” “Notes are sound, but passion and emotion are music.”
When you’re not playing the harp what do you like to do?
Outside of the harp, I participate in Speech and Debate on our school’s varsity team. I like to read (one of my favorites is Pride and Prejudice), and to watch movies at home with friends. I also love to eat sushi.
What’s on your playlist?
I don’t buy and download music on my phone, but my youtube history includes Mozart’s 39th Symphony, Mahler Symphony 1, and Scheherazade by Rimsky-Korsakov.
Finish this sentence: In 10 years I see myself…
…In 10 years, I see myself pursuing some kind of postgraduate education.
Anything else you want Harp Column readers to know about you?
Along with solo repertoire, I enjoy playing with other musicians in orchestra and smaller ensembles. I also like to volunteer with the harp, in senior care centers and hospitals.
Listen to Danielle Nam play “Whirlwind”