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Antonio Forero and Lyon & Healy Harps

As Lyon & Healy celebrates its sesquicentennial, president Antonio Forero reflects on the company’s rich history.

In a city that dates back 177 years, Lyon & Healy holds the distinction of being one of Chicago’s oldest businesses. As the famous harpmaker celebrates its 150th birthday this year, Harp Column caught up with its president and CEOAntonio Forero earlier this spring to talk about the company that has been a cornerstone of the harp community for more than a century.

Harp Column: In a couple of months, a lot of harpists are going to be descending on Chicago—tell us a little bit about Lyon & Healy’s 150th birthday celebration and what you have in store.

Antonio Forero: The first thing we did was to create an instrument that we have called the Style 150. We had a lot of ideas at the beginning of this project. One of the concepts was to go to an architect and try to create something that shows what we represent these days. But then someone came in a meeting saying, “Why don’t we give the sound of Lyon & Healy a sort of celebration?” So then we started thinking about building a harp that would be very unique, but simple enough that everyone can afford. And that’s how the project started and how we developed the instrument. We’re going to build it only through our 150th year—it was introduced at the end of 2013 and will be built until the end of 2014. So that was one project.

Another project was to build other instruments that are special, so we’re building a Salzedo in red. Salzedo used to have a special red that he used. So we went to the extreme of finding that specific color that he used to use, and then built a harp in the Salzedo red for that occasion. Then we built some special Style 17 models that we will be introducing as well during the week’s celebration that we’re going to have.

And then we started looking through our archives and trying to understand and build our history, looking back at all the brochures, catalogs, and different materials that we have. During our anniversary week, this historical collection will be on display for everyone to see. Another part (of the celebration) is to take some of the unique Lyon & Healy instruments—like the first 23, the first Salzedo, this type of thing—and create an exhibition of what we’ve built through the 150 years. We will be showing that during the week as well.

In the end we thought, “What are we going to do for harps and harpists in the city of Chicago?” We thought the best approach was to have a week where we will be presenting our harps in landmarks of Chicago and inviting dignitaries of the city as well as harpists from all around the world to come, and we will have a big celebration of what we are.

HC: It sounds like it will be an amazing time, especially for harpists who will be able to experience all this. In creating the Style 150, do you feel like you were trying to create a snapshot of the Lyon & Healy sound this anniversary year?

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Editor of Harp Column, freelance harpist, private teacher, hot yoga lover, and grammar geek.

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