Helen Gerhold has been appointed executive director of the Lyra Society, succeeding Elizabeth Steiner in the role. A Philadelphia–based nonprofit founded by Elizabeth Hainen in 2004, the Lyra Society provides harps and harp lessons to 30 students in five schools throughout the city. Gerhold, who was previously organization’s director of education, has been involved with the Lyra Society since she was a harp student. When asked what inspired her to get involved, she shares,
“It all comes back to Elizabeth Hainen. I started taking lessons from her when I was 11 or 12, and I volunteered to pack envelopes and letters for Lyra’s next benefit. I then volunteered every year after. First it was packing invites, then it became creating slideshows for the annual benefit’s guests to walk in to, then it became being responsible for production as a volunteer and managing social media through high school. When I was at Curtis. I saw her running the whole organization herself. I knew she was constantly busy with her teaching, solo career, and orchestral career on top of all her Lyra stuff so I was so happy to help any way I could. I was also excited that there was a program bringing music back into the Philadelphia School District schools. It has been a very rough decade for the district with budget cuts, and the music programs have been cut first. Students need music, sometimes more than a science or calculus. A lot of these students don’t come from the happiest homes, and having music to express themselves, re-center themselves, calm them down, and make them feel like they have a purpose can be lifesaving.”
She adds that when she first started subbing as a teaching artist with the Lyra Society, she witnessed changes in the harp students. “Seeing the students sit up a little taller, smile a little bigger, succeed, and be excited about harp and their performances, rehearsals, and lessons immediately showed me that Lyra is something on which I wanted to spend every ounce of my energy.”
In addition to her work at the Lyra Society, Gerhold performs regularly with the Philadelphia Orchestra. In 2013, she won a Lyon & Healy Award and received third prize in the young professional division of the American Harp Society National Competition. She graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music in 2018.
Learn more about the Lyra Society at lyrasociety.org.