// Dutch Harp Festival

Video Round

Streaming on Sunday, 28 Jan, 2PM (CET)

Candidates are listed below in performance order, determined by a randomized draw.

Lise Vandersmissen, Belgium

Lise Vandersmissen graduated with Distinction from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London and was awarded the Guildhall Harp Prize. She has won First Prize at the 5th International Harp Competition in Slovenia, Second Prize at the Szeged Harp Competition in Hungary and Second Prize at the London Camac Competition. Lise’s highlights on the Italian Triple Harp include the Händel Concerto at the London Händel Festival and in Alden Biesen with the Bach Academie. She was the Artist in Residence of the early music festival Intra Muros. Lise just released her first album (CJM Flanders) and is a young artist at Klara Radio in Belgium. Lise lives with her harps on her canal boat in London.

TRE: The Italian Triple Harp as a Solo Instrument

My programme TRE reintroduces the Italian Triple Harp as a solo instrument. It combines early music with my own newly written compositions: old and new intertwined. The first part of my programme includes one of the earliest solo pieces written for this baroque harp with three rows of strings, by Trabaci. After this Neapolitan introduction, the audience is taken on a journey to Händel, Parry and Croft, and flows into the present day. My own compositions are influenced by folk and early music. They feature contemporary elements like ankle bells and vocal effects. My compositions are based on my journey of writing for solo Triple Harp, while keeping its original baroque character intact.

Michelle Sweegers, Netherlands

Michelle SweegersMichelle Sweegers (1997) is een Nederlandse concertharpiste die vooral bekend staat om haar variërende en verhalende programma’s. Behalve klassieke werken die ze op de concertharp ten gehore brengt, bespeelt ze ook de elektrische harp waarmee ze experimenteert met verschillende muzikale stijlen. Tevens creëert Michelle eigen composities en is ze schrijfster van het sprookjesboek “De Goudboom”.
Ze heeft als soliste al meerdere prijzen gewonnen bij zowel nationale als internationale concoursen en daarnaast is ze regelmatig te gast (geweest) bij o.a. NPO Radio 4, Podium Witteman, De Wereld Draait en MAESTRO.

When Nature Calls

With my cinematic compositions I try to give the harp a new character, blending melody and harmony with beats and experimental soundscapes. My music is characterized by fairy-like sounds, emotional moments, playful freedom and an impressive orchestral sound. I aim to use my music to create a new sound and bridge the gap between different musical genres. While entering into unique collaborations, I don’t only compose just for harp, but for an entire orchestra. The theme of my new performance, is nature. With its vast forests, vibrant oceans, reflective ice fields and the infinite universe. We will not only discover its beauty, but also hear its impending doom…

Stef van Vynckt, Belgium

Stef Van VyncktStef Van Vynckt is a young Belgian harpist specialising in new music. Stef is co-founder of the up-and-coming chamber music ensemble EMC – Extended Music Collective, and has worked closely with leading contemporary composers to further expand the harp repertoire in works that showcase both the delicate side of the harp we are accustomed to, as well as the lesser explored and at times abrasive possibilities that the instrument can possess. Amongst the many collaborations he has been involved in in recent years, he has worked with Christopher Cerrone, Dai Fujikura, Elena Rykova and Maja Bosnić. He is regularly invited to perform with leading ensembles like Ensemble Modern in Frankfurt.

This ain’t fake

‘This ain’t fake’ brings together new compositions by internationally renowned composers like Frank Nuyts, Dai Fujikura, Elena Rykova, John Supko, Alexander Schubert and Alireza Farhang. This concert represents an exceptional collection of new compositions created by a mix of established composers from different musical traditions – striving to break free from musical constraints, aiming to blur the boundaries of musical genres. The project draws inspiration from our ongoing fascination with the future and our concern with the continuous flow of time. The dynamic shifts in the music reflect the conflicting emotions we experience, ranging from nostalgia and joy to fear and panic.

Katilyne Roels, Belgium

Katilyne Roels
Katilyne Roels is a Belgian harpist that obtained her master’s degree at the Sibelius Academy in Finland. The past years she has been working as a freelance orchestra harpist both in Finland and abroad. Roels has always been curious about composing and using electronics along that process.
Emil Sana is a French-Finnish composer and producer currently based in Helsinki. He is working in film music as well as sound design and sonic arts in varying forms of audio-visual, multimedia and installation projects. Katilyne and Emil got to know each other first as friends, but later discovered a shared artistic vision, which led to the development of this duo project.

Trapped

Our collaborative duo project delves into the exploration and expansion of the harp as a sound source, while experimenting on multiple ways of co-creating and co-composing as an electroacoustic duo. We lean towards minimalist, cinematic textures, always keeping the emotional content at the core of our music and compositions. Our debut concert featured the piece “Trapped”, which focused on the emotional impacts of grief and was enthusiastically received by a wide audience. Storytelling and ‘world building’ are central elements to our project, and we consider the use of visual art as a driving force to impact our audience.

Océane Minder, Switzerland

Océane MinderPassionate and determined to combine my favorite instrument – the harp – with my favorite musical genre – jazz, I am pursuing my music studies at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) in the Bachelor’s program for jazz harp. Integrating the harp into the jazz program at a Swiss University of the Arts is a goal that is very close to my heart. Supported by numerous recognized professional musicians in both classical and jazz genres, I will be the only harpist in Switzerland studying jazz harp at the Bachelor’s level. I aspire to contribute, in my own way, to further popularizing the harp in jazz scenes and pushing the boundaries of the instrument even further.

A taste of Harp

I would play jazz standards in a trio (harp, bass and drums), as well as a solist. I will sometimes sing while accompanying myself on the harp. For example: Beautiful love, Laura, It could happen to you, My funny Valentine, Four, You must believe in spring, Yardbird Suite, There will never be another you, Nature Boy, Blue in Green…

Sylvana Labeyrie, France

Sylvana LabeyrieSylvana Labeyrie is a French harpist, she studied at the Royal College of Music of London, and the Haute école de musique de Genève. Sylvana has won several prizes in international Harp Competitions as a soloist, and a chamber music player. Compositions have been dedicated to her, among them Dépression atmosphérique by G.Gozzi. She also composes her own music, incorporating traditional technics with electronic sounds. Sylvana is teaching the harp and chamber music at the conservatoire de Ferney-voltaire where she is head of her department. As a musician, she plays with orchestra and choirs. She has co-created the show “Fanny Mendelssohn is not the only one” and currently plays in “Cielo”.

Fanny Mendelssohn is not the only one

Women have always composed music. And yet, if you listen to the radio, go to concerts of even open a music history book, you might think that there is almost none. ‘Fanny Mendelssohn is not the only one’ is a cross- disciplinary show that mixes harp, flute, dance, and theater, aiming to put female composers in the spotlight. Despite the fact that women’s work in classical music has been forgotten or overlooked for a long time, it still exists. This show explains the mechanics that makes woman’s work in the art world doesn’t go thru the years. Through humor and poetry, this show encourages the public to reflect on the question.

Alma Klemm, Germany

Alma KlemmAlma Klemm studied classical harp with Gisèle Herbet and Stephen Fitzpatrick and spent over a decade playing in various orchestras around Europe such as the State Opera Berlin, the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and the City of Birmingham Orchestra. Coming from a musical family she grew up surrounded by opera, but soon turned her head for any other genre of music, especially world music. More and more she started to let her love for Latin music inspire her teaching and her performances as a soloist. In the season 2022/23 her duo Falma launched their first concerts with continiously self arranged and composed pieces. A unique fusion of classical and latin music, Falma does not only perform, but also shares ideas in their educational project “Falma Musik Kids” in their home town Kiel.

Antología

Falma’s debut program “Antología” kicked off by digging into the music of Alma’s idol, Cuban pianist Ruben Gonzalez. Her version of Buena Vista Social Club for the classical pedal harp was complemented as she met multi instrumentalist Fernando Henríquez from Venezuela. Together they created a unique program for the European pedal harp accompanied by folkloric percussion and original guitar instruments from Latin America. “Antología” is a collection of songs and dances from Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Chile and Cuba that varies between happiness, love, melancholy and energy.

María Cristina de la Rosa, Mexico

María Cristina de la RosaCristy De la Rosa, a Jarocha harpist from Xalapa, Veracruz, began her musical journey at 7, initially as a pianist. She later embraced the Jarocho harp after a hiatus from her studies. Since 2015, she has performed at various concerts and festivals across Latin America and beyond. In 2017, she founded Culturarpa A.C., promoting Jarocho harp and its artists. She published “Los Colores del Arpa,” a collection of her compositions, and released her debut album, “Arpa Mía.” Cristy now focuses on her solo music and “Suite para Arpa Jarocha y Orquesta.” She directs “Siete Coincidencias,” a show exploring the connections between Jarocho harp, classical harp, and piano with six other female artists.

Jarocha Harp & Heritage

“Jarocha Harp & Heritage” is a captivating concert celebrating Mexico’s musical legacy through Cristy De la Rosa’s Jarocho Harp mastery. It immerses the audience in Mexico and Veracruz’s rich musical tradition, emphasizing the universal language of music as a cultural unifier. Cristy’s narrative adds depth, connecting listeners to the music’s cultural context, complemented by visuals linking the songs to Mexican culture. The performance features carefully chosen classic Mexican and Jarocho songs, reinvigorated by Cristy’s passionate interpretation. Additionally, her original compositions blend tradition with modernity, reflecting her profound cultural appreciation and compositional talent.

Amelia Romano, USA

Amelia RomanoAn active soloist performing classical re-imaginations on lever harp, Amelia, received her master’s in music at San Francisco State University under the tutelage of Karen Gottlieb, retired second harpist of the San Francisco Symphony. Her latest album, “Levers Engaged: Classical Works Re-imaged for Harp” and sheet music collection “Classical Re-imaginations,” present the lever harp as a valid voice in todays’ classical music scene. A composer and arranger, she is equally at home writing Latin America inspired works for solo harp as she is adapting classical pieces for chamber collaborations.

Defying Convention

I fell in love with Latin American music while playing in harp ensembles as a teen. The contagious syncopation inspired my original numbers, “Counterpoint,” “New Perspectives” and “Defying Gravity.” Despite having roots in folk traditions, (thanks to advances in lever mechanics and the adaptation of various playing techniques), the lever harp has become a genre-fluid instrument. Having recently completed my masters in classical lever harp performance, “Defying Convention,” presents the lever harp as a valid voice in classical music reflected in my re- imagination performances of Pearl Chertok’s “Beige Nocturne” and Brandee Younger’s, “Essence of Ruby,” both written for pedal harp.

Emma Thomazeau, France

Emma ThomazeauEmma Thomazeau, born in 1999 in France, started playing the harp in Claire Le Fur’s class. At the age of 17, she entered the Haute Ecole de Musique de Lausanne in the class of Letizia Belmondo and obtained her Bachelor’s degree in 2019, her Master’s degree in Pedagogy in 2021 and her Master’s degree in Soloist in 2023, all awarded with the highest distinction. She is involved in various projects, bringing together arts and styles, notably with AVELUNE, a harp and electronic duo. Emma is the winner of several international competitions, she performs with several orchestras and is regularly invited to play recitals in Switzerland and France. She teach since 2021 at the Montreux Conservatory.

Balance

Performed by Avelune, harp and electronic duo, this program offers a reflection on the balance between materials, sounds and feelings. By combining the natural timbre of the harp to sound treatments, we wish to bring sonic worlds together. Classical, experimental, minimalist and current music come together around our compositions for a journey beyond borders. We are both classically trained, Baptiste on trombone and myself on harp. Our pieces bring our two instruments into dialogue around various styles in search of balance. Sometimes dreamy, or powerful and energizing, other times very determined and passionate or even conciliatory and moved, we are constantly looking for a gravity point.

Liucile Vilimaite, Lithuania

Liucile VilimaiteLiucile Vilimaite is a Lithuanian harpist and composer interested in non-traditional and experimental performance practices. Being born in a musical family, she began her path as a musician at a very young age. Ever since Liucile has won several national and international harp and composition competitions, gave premiers of composers like Meredith Monk, Algirdas Martinaitis, as well as gave a world premiere of her piece “Žalčiai” for harp and strings in 14th World Harp Congress in Cardiff in 2022. In the same year Liucile graduated the Royal Conservatoire of the Hague cum laude, where she was taught by harpists Ernestine Stoop, Sylvain Blassel, Marieke Schoenmakers and composer Trevor Grahl.

La Mélancolie

“La Mélancolie” is an immersive concert program that portraits melancholia, a feeling that is often viewed very negatively, as a breathtaking and pensive experience. Through well-known lyrical harp pieces, as well as compositions and arrangements of my own, and theatrical elements such as visual projections and intimate scenography, the listener is invited to explore bittersweet emotions of solitude and experience the vulnerable beauty of a momentum. Can melancholia be the key for finding your way and resilience in an increasingly disconnected world?

Zoe Vandermeer, USA

Zoe VandermeerZoe Vandermeer specializes in classical repertoire and her original compositions singing with her Welsh triple harp and Celtic harp. A prize-winning graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, she is on the Roster of the CT Commission on Culture and Tourism, and has given performances at the Rio International Harp Festival, International Festival de Deia Mallorca, American Harp Society, Glasgow International Early Music Festival, and Connecticut Early Music Festival. Her composition ‘Zoe’s Musical Fairy Tale’, compared to Phantom of the Opera, won 2nd Place by Global Music Awards, 2022. Her soprano & Welsh harp baroque CD with Centaur Records will be released in 2024.

PLEUR

PLEUR, featuring my original compositions and words, is a story about my deep love for my two horses, a man, nature, and the interweaving of these three elements in moody, evocative, and passionate songs and harp solos, with the themes of love, longing, feeling lost, wonderment, comfort, hope, betrayal, anger, tears, and healing. Artistic and/or photographic projections may become part of this project.

Kevin le Pennec, France

Kevin le PennecKevin is a lever harp player and singer-songwriter from Brittany, part of the new generation of Breton musicians. He plays in several groups such as his harp duo BISIAD and his fest-noz trio LA MÉZANJ. As a solo artist, Kevin is dedicated to arranging, composing and writing songs. He released his first solo album « À distance » (From a distance) on May 3rd 2023. His passion for traditional music and songs is expressed through a modern and dynamic harp playing and arrangements coloured by various influences (pop, jazz …). His clear and powerful singing seals his artistic identity. In August 2019, at the soloist competition “Trophée Camac”, Kevin won the first prize and the public prize.

This song is for the wind

From a distance is a solo programme for harp and vocals. The Breton-inspired songs, all composed and written by Kevin Le Pennec, reveal the soul of a sensitive and committed artist. His voice, tinged with traditional music, is blended with a contemporary musical heritage that adds a new dimension to his music. Like an orchestra in its own right, the harp wends its way along colourful paths bordered by a rich landscape, at once modest and complex, to the point where we sometimes hear surges of notes like of a kora, or the silence of a song. Through his texts, Kevin expresses himself on the themes that are dear to him: long-distance relationships, homosexuality, gender inclusion, positivity.

Dafne Paris, Netherlands

Dafne ParisDafne Paris is a Dutch-Italian harpist based in Amsterdam. Dafne is currently completing her master studies at the Conservatory of Amsterdam with a focus on contemporary repertoire. Dafne works with interdisciplinary projects and explores the different possibilities and sonorities available to the harp, combining the traditional harp repertoire with music theatre performances, live electronics and visual arts. She performed at the 66th International Festival of Contemporary Music during La Biennale di Venezia and was awarded “Best Performance” of the Festival. For the current fall semester, Dafne is participating in a graduate exchange program at the Mannes School of Music in New York.

VOCE

‘Voce’ is a curated program featuring transformative story-telling pieces that are united by their narrative and peculiarity. The harpist emerges as a symbolic embodiment, embarking on an exploration of her connection with the instrument, the music it creates, and the journey of self-discovery. By expanding the conventional harp performance to include the harpist’s physicality and spoken or sung voice, the performance explores new possibilities in sonorities and theatrical presence. The program will also include a newly commissioned piece for Harp(ist) and Live Electronics following the program’s prompt.

Katia Mestrovic, Australia

Katia MestrovicKatia started harp at age eight with Xanya Mamunya. During adolescence, she broadened her horizons with learning languages, living overseas, teaching English, and rallying for Human Rights causes. At 27, she decided to become a professional harpist.�� She graduated from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (2022 with high distinction), as a student of Alice Giles AM; was awarded the Quinquin foundation scholarship, the William and Marie Souter Encouragement Awards, and the Bachelor of Music Scholarship.�� Katia also composes, having recently completed a commission for harp and marimba. Previously, she has published two works in the AMEB Harp Syllabus; and has written two modern classical harp books.

The Sonorous Harp

I hope to present a program which showcases the harp’s power and diversity in a contemporary context – its myriad techniques, colours, moods, and expressiveness. A program which challenges preconceived notions of the harp as an ‘angelic,‘ ‘pretty,‘ or orchestral instrument.
A little over half of my program will include original compositions. Their style is grounded in ‘new harpism;’ the principles established by Carlos Salzedo, including essential resonance, instrumental esthetics, and extended techniques.

Eloïse Fares, France

Eloïse FaresGraduated from two Masters in Geneva, Eloïse plays regularly with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and the Chamber Orchestra of Geneva in many symphonic programs, operas and ballets under the renowned conduct of C. Dutoit, J. Nott, D. Harding. She joined in July 2022&2023 the Verbier Festival and Chamber Orchestras conducted by G. Noseda, Z. Mehta, K. Mäkelä. Eloïse wishes to open her musical sensibility. Curious and proactive, she creates a flute&harp duet and makes a CD- book « Lorsque tout dort », harp&voice (french melody’s arrangements). She collaborates with an actor and a cellist in artistic productions mixing music and theatre in the perspective of interdisciplinary projects.

Musical paintings of an exhibition

Have you already listened to Moussorgsky’s “Pictures at an exhibition” which describes an imaginary tour of an art collection? Now, what if from romantic pieces for harp, paintings could be made? What if they were conceived by music? An interpretation of a musical piece is not static, it changes with the musician who plays. So will be the paintings: colours, shapes, textures, they will depend on the music performed. This project looks like the discover of a virtual exhibition which paintings were faded with time, left uncolored. Music, here, is leading to a subjective revival of those nebulous pictures, a renewal perception influenced by it, which makes music itself alive.

Anabel Gutierrez Orraca, Cuba

Anabel Gutierrez OrracaBorn in La Habana, Cuba, Anabel Gutierrez Orraca is currently a Doctor in Music candidate at McGill University, with master’s degree from the same institution, a BMus from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and a Certificate in Entrepreneurship from Indiana University Kelly School of Business. Her passion for better access to harp education led her to found the Asociación Latinoamericana del Arpa, a non- profit organisation that advocates for access to world-class education for Latin American harpists. Her research interests range from Cuban harp history to harp literature, to experimentation and identity expression in the Twenty-first Century harpist, her doctoral dissertation topic.

My Identity

Identity and Music are linked together. In the case of the pedal harp, this relationship is more intricate due to the instrument’s own preconceptions. However, coming from a culture foreign to the European harp tradition, my personal and cultural identity became in conflict with my career choice. Ten years ago, my desire to study abroad forced me to let go of who I used to be, to become what I thought was expected of me in order to become a great harpist. But after embodying two opposing identities, I realised I could not be one without the other. This program tells my personal story, the hardships the harp and I experienced together, to finally become whole and be able to say: This is me.

Shu Hsin Chen, Taiwan

Shu Hsin ChenShu-Hsin Chen, under the tutorage of the world renowned harpist, Susann McDanald, received her master’s degree and performer’s diploma from Indiana University, Bloomington. She is now active as an orchestral harpist, soloist, as well as recording artist. She has recorded several albums including a solo one released by Warner Music Taiwan. During recent years, her major projects in performance are to combine harp music with flamenco and Argentinean tango dances.

From Here to the Infinite

It is a taboo to talk about death in our culture. After improvising on my harp solo piece “The Ghost”, my trio group discussed and decided to use our music to transform death. We will start with the Big Bang which represents birth. Then earthly life where we experience the beauty of life and human emotions (Primordial Song). In “The Ghost”, we face death and our imagination about the afterlife. The last piece “Infinity” is to convey the idea that we are all in this oneness with everything, everywhere and everytime. All the pieces are our own using our existing compositions, parts from our improvising sections, and inspirations from poetry.

Ruth Lee, UK

Ruth LeeRuth Lee is an award-winning harpist and composer, crafting performances inspired by mythology, and has been described as a ‘musical storyteller’ with ‘her own inner voice’ (Sioned Williams, UKHA Review). Her work has been recognised at many leading festivals across the UK, including the United Kingdom Harp Competition (Sioned Williams Prize for Harp), The Edinburgh International Harp Festival (Iain Macleòid Young Composer Award), and the Wales International Harp Festival. Ruth recently also performed a solo programme featuring her own works at the World Harp Congress 2022 – Mythology. She regularly performs for the charity Live Music Now! and collaborates with other soloists and ensembles.

Mythology

A program for solo pedal harp of contemporary-classical music, infused with a folk idiom and inspired by mythology. It features works by myself and other female contemporary composers. Bringing the audience into the narrative, each piece is accompanied by photography, art and short stories that were either formed alongside the music, or used as inspiration, and enrich the audience’s experience. Including both acoustic and electro-acoustic music, with the use of loop machines, ambient noise and extended techniques, a unique sound world is created for each piece all linked by mythology.

Héloïse Carlean Jones, France

Héloïse Carlean JonesPraised for her “clarity and mastery of sound” (Reading Eagle), Héloïse Carlean Jones is a French harpist who performs as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral player. Golden Medal winner in the Fourth Manhattan Competition, she has performed around the world in solo and chamber music recitals in Aspen, Tanglewood, Johannesburg, Paris Young Talents and Ohrid International Festival. Héloïse holds a Konzertexamen Diploma from the HfMDK Frankfurt, a Master of Music from the Yale School of Music, as well as a Bachelor’s of Music in Harp performance and a Diploma in Historical Performance Practice from the Curtis Institute of Music. She is a member of the Orchestre de la Garde Républicaine.

Journey Around Harmony

Whilst studying classical music in conservatory, I rarely encountered music that was composed before the 18th century. And yet, Medieval and Renaissance composers have inspired centuries of musical composition and performance. Many 20th composers went back to the use of modes: were they looking back at the long forgotten past preceding the use of functional harmony, or perhaps connecting with folk and popular music of their time? “Journey Around Harmony” brings together music from France and the surrounding regions, at either end of traditional tonal history. Songs from 12th century troubadours are interwoven with music from the turn of the 20th century onwards.

Amy Nam, USA

Amy NamMinnesota-based harpist and musical artist Amy Nam writes and performs music out of a desire to nourish curiosity —both her own curiosity as well as that of her listeners. Her original music has garnered support and accolades from Chamber Music America’s Classical Commissioning Program, the American Harp Society Grants Program, the BMI Foundation, the Eastman School of Music, and the Lyra Society, and her works have been performed and recorded by ensembles including the Pacific Chamber Orchestra, Hats+Heels duo, Tennessee Valley Music Festival Orchestra, and the American Composer’s Orchestra. Currently, Nam teaches harp and composition at Luther College in Decorah, IA.

Cosmic Fragments: Words and Music about Life, the Universe, and Everything

In a sweeping and quirky musical-poetic survey of human experience and the universe we inhabit, “Cosmic Fragments” grapples with the most profound aspects of life on earth: wonder, ugliness, beauty, suffering, intelligence, imagination, and potential—among others! Bite-sized spoken texts alternate with short works for harp (seven for solo pedal harp, and one for electric lever harp with electronics), all written within the last century. At times aggressive, personal, whimsical, or meditative—and always sincere—this idiosyncratic program displays as many characters of the contemporary harp as it offers insights into humanity’s miraculous, impermanent appearance in the cosmos.

Alexander Thomas, UK

Alexander Thomas Alexander studied with Gabriella dall’Olio and Helen Sharp. He is currently completing his Masters in the class of Isabelle Perrin at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo. He was a finalist in the USA International Harp Competition Composer’s Competition and the Camac Harp Competition North London, was awarded a St. Magnus Festival Composers scholarship and his original work has been BFI London Film Festival shortlisted. He has performed in residency at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Latitude Festival, Herne Hill Festival, Manchester Pride and The Roundhouse Camden. He has appeared as guest principal harpist of various London orchestras and performed in many of the major UK concert halls.

Memoirs | Postcards

This programme represents an expression of some of my own personal joys and sadnesses as well as profound moments on my journey in life and music. My goal is to unlock the music for the audience, finding the stories between the notes and creating a truly authentic and heartfelt connection. Music should leave you having had a certain experience or feeling a certain way – communicating human to human in a way that transcends words. Throughout the concert I will introduce the music myself, directly explaining the threads that weave through the programme. The centrepiece of my programme is my own work – a suite of three ‘Memoirs’ – deeply exploring themes of grief, love, loss and spirituality.

Fiona Rutherford, UK

Fiona RutherfordFiona is a Scottish harpist and composer from Edinburgh, who mainly performs her own eclectic work. Fiona learned harp with Sophie Askew, Isobel Mieras and Savourna Stevenson. She studied at The City of Edinburgh Music School and holds degrees in Composition from Dartington College of Arts and Edinburgh University. Fiona has published several volumes of her own harp compositions and has written for theatre and film including the award winning feature film ‘The Inheritance’. ‘Seed’ was released in Spring 2023 and features her original music for harp and chamber ensembles. “breathtaking…a sign of wonderful genre bursting melting pot in current Scottish music” (Folk RadioUk)

The Scottish Harp: An Eclectic Tale

An exciting and eclectic blend of original compositions for the Scottish Harp. Fiona’s composition style is always melodic at its heart, but encompasses many genres: folk, contemporary classical, film and world. Expect to hear music that is both unusual and beautiful. Fiona’s compositions take inspiration from film music, the African Kora, Gaelic slow airs and French impression. The result is music that sounds fresh and original, but totally honest.
“A beautifully composed listening experience” (Songlines Magazine)
“A sign of a wonderful genre bursting melting pot in current Scottish music” (Folk Radio Uk)

Llywelyn Ifan Jones, UK

Llywelyn Ifan Jones“This is no demure tinkling. Expect to be drawn to the very edge of your seat by the commitment, warmth, and fluency of his playing.” A powerful description by BBC’s Hinterland composer John Hardy to describe Lyon & Healy Award recipient and 1st prize winner of the 2020 Camac Harp Competition at the North London Festival. Llywelyn Ifan Jones performed at the World Harp Congress in 2022. He was scheduled to perform at the Wigmore Hall in June 2020 as an H R Taylor Trust Scholar at the Royal College of Music.

Towards the Dawn

A recital exploring the passion, the pathos, and the eternal deliverance of the human spirit. Through pain, suffering, and heartache, the human spirit has a way of expressing great tenacity. It is when one is faced with circumstances of great adversity that the human spirit uses it as a catalyst for growth and an opportunity to change. Peter Marshall so beautifully wrote, “When We Long for Life without Difficulties, reminds us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.” In a short sentence, the human spirit was encapsulated.

Ariel Sol, USA

Ariel SolAriel Sol is an adventurer in sound as a cutting-edge composer/producer/harpist. Based in Los Angeles and hailing from Chicago, he is passionate about channeling musical innovation to foster community both on and off stage. Storytelling, ancestry, technology, and rebellion intersect to inform his dynamic approach to the music of today. Winner of the 7th USA International Harp Competition Ruth Inglefield Composition Contest and 2023 SEAMUS Allen Strange Award, Ari’s work can be experienced worldwide. A musical phenom, his performances include a 2022 Young Artist Residency on American Public Media’s “Performance Today” and two spotlights as Featured Young Composer of the American Harp Society.

Stronger Together

Stronger Together is an expression of synergy: a whole whose impact is greater than the sum of its parts. The program features three original premieres that draw from themes of collective action, personal bonds, and multicultural synthesis. The first two pieces integrate live technology- motion and light sensors- to create an interactive soundscape that explores body language, crowd psychology, and more through audience-informed improvisation. The final piece is a traditional concerto (contemporary classical) in which each movement is influenced by a different genre formative to the composer. The final movement combines themes from all three into a tapestry of cultures and sounds.

Follow the Competition

Would you like to be notified about the upcoming online competition round? Leave your name and email address here, and we'll make sure you get the streaming link delivered directly to your inbox.