AHS Conference Heads West

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California influences set tone for biennial gathering

The American Harp Society (AHS) will again bring together artists, educators, innovators, and resources to inspire and motivate harpists of all ages and interests as it presents its 43rd National Conference, June 27-30 on the campus of the University of Redlands, in historic Redlands, Calif.

This year’s conference will lead off with performances by the winners of the 2018 Anne Adams Awards and a recital by Abigail Kent, the current AHS Concert Artist. Emmanuel Ceysson, principal harpist for the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and virtuoso soloist will perform the conference’s opening recital. The following day, Ceysson will present masterclasses and a workshop on some of the great operatic literature that includes harp.

Significant chamber works by California composers Bruce Broughton, Alan Hovhaness, Conrad Susa, and many more will be performed along with premier performances of works by composers Gernot Wolfgang (the Debussy Trio) and Ray Burkhart (the LA Harptette). A concert of prize-winning repertoire championed by the Northern California Harpists Association, the precursor organization to the AHS, will include a performance of David Watkins’ Petite Suite by Annette Lee, 2017 AHS Competition Intermediate I Division winner.

The music of Hollywood also takes center stage in Redlands.  In addition to a roundtable discussion with noted Hollywood harpists, music from these wonderful genres will abound. Emmy Award winning composer Bruce Broughton will hold a Q & A about his works and composing for film and television. David Ice will reprise his ever-popular Hooray for Harpywood videos, and Hollywood studio harpist Gayle Levant will lead off a panel discussion by Hollywood composers and harpists on what it takes to make that movie magic happen.

There are participatory ensemble opportunities for youth and adult harpists, as well as pre-concert ensemble performances from the San Jose Youth Symphony Orchestra Association Harp Ensemble and the Silicon Valley Youth Harp Ensemble. There will be a historical harps hands-on museum with Cheryl Fulton, jazz workshops with Motoshi Kosako and Lara Somogyi, arranging for harp quartet with Willi Maerz, and a panel discussion on grant writing and music commissioning with experts from the field.

The campus chapel will host multiple concerts daily, including a classical chamber music concert, the choral and instrumental works of Conrad Susa, a salute to the artistry of DeWayne Fulton with virtuoso harpist Paul Hurst, a stellar program of jazz with California artists Lori Andrews, Motoshi Kosako, and Carol Robbins, and dueling harp quartets—the Los Angeles Harp Quartet and the LA Harptette. The Redlands Symphony with conductor Gregory Robbins and harp soloists Julie Smith Phillips, Cristina Montez Mateo, and Paul Baker together with Ellie Choate will present an evening concerto program including works by Karl Jenkins, Joaquin Rodrigo, and Nino Rota.

Latin influences are everywhere in Southern California, including in the conference programming. Brilliant soloist and champion of the harp in his home country of Mexico, Baltazar Juárez will perform traditional Mexican folk music with fellow countryman Emmanuel Padilla Holguín. A perennial favorite, Alfredo Rolando Ortiz, will present a Latin rhythms workshop and tells attendees to bring their dancing shoes. Ortiz will join with performers and composers from Mexico and South America for a panel discussion and Q & A opportunity. The conference will close with a gala picnic with Mariachi band.

Make your plans to be part of this multicultural, participatory, and rousing conference. Registration is available online at ahsconference.org.

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