Joel von Lerber of Switzerland finished second in Israel but managed to win two special prizes, as well as the hearts of many fans
Joel von Lerber is an impressive harpist. He performs with passion and confidence. Many harpists and audience members were following him through all four stages of the contest. I learned that many fans beyond Israel followed Joel’s posts on Instagram after each round. In our digital age, we can all feel up close and personal. I caught up with Joel by WhatsApp in Israel as he was on his way to enjoy the Tel Aviv beach. He flew home to Switzerland right after the finals and then a few days later returned to Israel to enjoy a well-deserved vacation after the competition.
First, a bit of background. Joel is from Switzerland and has studied the harp for most of his life with a list of great harp teachers, including Nathalie Chatelain, Simon Bilger, Sarah O’Brien, and Maria Graf. Joel is no stranger to international competitions. He has been a prize winner at the Louis Spohr Competition, the USA International Harp Competition, the Golden Harp Competition, and the Mexico International Harp Competition.
Harp Column: Congratulations! You won the second prize at the International Harp Contest in Israel in addition to two special prizes. You were awarded the Propes Prize for the best performance of the Israeli work in Stage II and shared the award for the best performance of Smetana’s Moldau. As a listener, it is often obvious when a performer enjoys performing a piece. You not only played the music well but seemed to really connect with the repertoire. Was it the list of required pieces that drew you to compete in the Israeli Contest?