AMERICAN HARP SOCIETY
The New Orleans Chapter of the American Harp Society is honored to host the 41st American Harp Society National Conference! This summer’s gathering is themed "Harp Carnivale," a celebration of our diverse harp community. Performances will feature solo, chamber, orchestral, concerto, and jazz harpists from our Southern region and beyond. Young award winners and seasoned professionals will inspire with premiers and familiar favorites, playing all types of harps. First time AHS presenters such as Diana Rowan, Baltazar Juárez, and Riza Printup will join returning AHS conference artists Park Stickney, Marguerite Lynn Williams and Deborah Henson-Conant.
The opening night concert on Sunday, June 22, features a formal solo recital by Mexican harpist Baltazar Juárez, performing in the legendary St. Louis Cathedral, in the heart of the French Quarter. A New Orleans traditional "Second Line" procession will lead the conference attendees back to the hotel for a late night reception and jazz concert by Carol Robbins. Exhibits open at noon, and a full afternoon of events precedes the opening concert. Anne Adams Awards winners and the current AHS Concert Artist will give concerts, followed by a Memorial Reception for the late AHS Foundation President, Sally Maxwell, and Anne and Burton Adams. A welcoming banquet will then treat conference registrants to a taste of Southern hospitality and cuisine, accompanied by a dramatic enactment of the harp in New Orleans operatic history.
On Monday June 23, day two of the conference, a plethora of master classes, workshops, panel discussions and lecture-presentations are sure to hold something of interest for everyone. A flute and harp concert features harpists Kathy Kienzle, Lillian Lau and Ann Yeung. Japanese harp trio "Café de la Harp" will join the Modern Harp Quartet and the Chicago Harp Quartet in concert. Exclusive exhibit shopping time is scheduled between these major events. A special opportunity to have professional photos taken will be provided at the Escosa Booth. Bring your elegant gowns for these promotional headshots, and wear them to the Mardi Gras Ball Orchestra Gala on the final evening of the conference as well!
Day three, Tuesday June 24, is the last opportunity to shop the exhibits, so we’ve invited the exhibitors to stay for our Harp Fest and stay open until midnight! The evening will feature local jazz harpists as well as international stars on three different stages throughout the hotel. Daytime events include a concert of chamber pieces for harp, performed by harpists Jaymee Haefner, Emily Mitchell, and Jeanne Norton. There will be presentations on writing and arranging for solo harp, harp ensemble, and harp chamber music, as well as improvisation techniques and harp theory.
Wednesday, June 25, will feature the Harp Carnivale harp ensembles in concert. Michelle Gwynne and Leslie Stratton will direct two student harp ensembles. Dickie Fleisher and the Naples Harp Ensemble will host the adult aficianados ensemble. Historical harp with Dominique Piana and Catherine Anderson, and Cheryl Cunningham’s harp and piano forte duo, fill out the day’s events. That evening will showcase four harp concertos and a harp symphony with members of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. This exciting orchestra gala starts with a two harp transcription of the Bach Double Piano Concerto, performed by Maryen Munos and Marcela Mendez. Next will be the Parish Alvars Double Harp Concerto played by two Julliard harpists, Emily Levin and Katherine Siochi. Toronto Symphony harpist Heidi Van Hoesen Gorton will then join the stage with her parents, harpist Gretchen Van Hoesen and oboist James Gorton, to perform the Goosens Triple Concerto. After a brief intermission this gala event will feature Deborah Henson-Conant (pictured left) conducting her own harp concerto, performed by Eleanor Turner (pictured right). The program will conclude with a new symphonic work by Peter Stopchinski, which prominently features harp, entitled "Late Night with a Happy Ending." Austin Symphony harpist Elaine Barber will perform this six-movement work. A jazz reception with the Allvin-Collins quartet follows.
The final day of the conference, Thursday, June 26, brings the week to another happy ending, with a massive harp ensemble rehearsal and performance, open to all harpists registered for the conference. Hoping to break the world record for number of harps in performance at one time, this program consists of a world premier by Louisiana composer and harpist Kimberly Houser. Her composition, entitled "Atchafalaya," is based on the song of swamp frogs. The afternoon is open for sight-seeing and excursions that might include a visit with the singing frogs on a swamp tour, an exploration of the world-famous World War II Museum, or opportunities to tour one of many historic Southern Plantations, the Mardi Gras Museum, or perhaps, to experience the chilling effect of a walking Ghost Tour.