Are you getting excited for the upcoming World Harp Congress in Hong Kong? Whether you’re planning to attend in person or follow along vicariously with our updates on harpcolumn.com, we know you probably want to hear more about the harp world’s biggest extravaganza!! Look for our Q and A posts with WHC movers and shakers leading up to the big July event, beginning with thoughts from WHC Chairman of the Board Kathy Kienzle. 

You are the current Chairman of the Board of the World Harp Congress. Tell us what your mission is in this role.

“I have several missions. One is to bring the WHC into the 21st century, by using digital resources more, much like the Harp Column does! Another is to make the WHC relevant and interesting to harpists all the time, not just at the triennial Congresses, which are always very exciting events. This includes drawing more young harpists into the organization.

If you met a harpist who didn’t know anything about the World Harp Congress, what’s the first thing you’d want to tell them?

“Joining the WHC and attending a Congress can bring you closer to harpists from all over the world. It’s a great way to make friends and learn about different cultures and music. The Congresses are a weeklong concentration of incredible performances and workshops like nothing else in the world today.

What WHC accomplishments are you most proud of?

“The Hong Kong Congress this summer will be the first under my chairmanship, so most of my accomplishments have to do with working with the Board. Making agendas and running meetings efficiently have gone extremely well. I am working hard on improving communication within the organization, which is off to a good start.

What’s the most rewarding aspect for you of working with the WHC?

“Absolutely the most rewarding has been making good friends with wonderful and fun people who happen to be harpists, from all over the world. The dedication of the Board, who volunteer their time and do all their traveling for meetings at their own expense, is really amazing.

How many WHC events have you attended in your life as a harpist?

“Even though it was not called the WHC yet, I attended a Harpweek in The Netherlands immediately after finishing college at Juilliard. The Harpweeks were the forerunner of the WHC, and experiencing that event helped me to understand one of the original purposes of the WHC, which is now represented in the Focus on Youth programs at the Congresses. (It was there that I first met Nancy Allen, because we were roommates! I also got to know some Russian harpists, even though it was during the Cold War, and other harpists from Europe, who I still meet at Congresses.) Later I attended Congresses in Paris, Copenhagen, Tacoma, Prague, Amsterdam, Vancouver, and Sydney.

How was the host city chosen?

“The host city is chosen by a thorough bidding process. The bid includes presenting to the Board venues, possible programs, committee members, and of course, the potential for drawing a large attendance. Hong Kong was chosen because all of those items presented to the Board were very impressive. We also try to move the Congress to different areas of the world, if possible, so harpists from different geographical locations have easier access. We have never had a Congress in Asia before, and there is rapidly growing interest in the harp in China, so that was a big part of the Board’s decision to hold the 2017 Congress in Hong Kong.

What’s your favorite memory from a WHC event?

“I have so many, this is difficult to narrow down! Watching concerts in amazing venues like the palace of Versailles, the Concertgebouw, the Sydney opera house, etc.; hanging out in the hotel coffee shop, or in a great local restaurant with friends from all over the world, catching up or reminiscing about past Congresses, and of course, hearing incredible performances from the world’s greatest harpists.

What are you most looking forward to at this year’s event?

“Being in Hong Kong again, seeing my WHC friends, and hearing great performances.

Name your top “must see” Hong Kong spots:

“I was in Hong Kong for the first time during our summer 2015 Board meetings. We didn’t have time to see a lot, but I highly recommend going up to The Peak at night, to see the incredible view of the city and harbor from above.

Favorite Hong Kong food?

“All the food is amazing in Hong Kong! The Board had several meals hosted by the local committee that included a huge variety of foods. We sat at round tables with a kind of “lazy susan” in the middle where lots of different dishes were placed, so we tried many, many dishes. Some of my favorites were noodle dishes and dim sum. I also loved a fruit called “Dragon fruit” that was served at breakfast.

Anything else you want to let our readers know?

“If you can’t come to Hong Kong this summer, start saving for the 2020 Congress, which will be held in Cardiff, Wales, another beautiful location, which also promises to offer another exciting program.

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About Author

Kimberly Rowe is co-founder of Harp Column and served as Editor of the print edition from 1993–2013. She now serves as Web Editor. Kimberly performs and teaches in the mid-Atlantic region of the US. She is co-founder of the Young Artist's Harp Seminar, and on the faculty at Temple University, in Philadelphia.

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