Sounding Board—A Home for the Harp

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—by Meghan Caulkett

Meghan Caulkett is bringing the harp to the homeless through 47 Strings.

Meghan Caulkett is bringing the harp to the homeless through 47 Strings.

One harpist’s quest to take the harp out of the concert hall.

Two years ago, I founded 47 Strings, an innovative harp concert series. What makes this music program unique is that we present concerts around the Houston area for those who are not normally exposed to harp music. By taking the harp out of the formal concert hall setting and performing in a wide variety of venues and neighborhoods, we have reached a diverse group of listeners. Within the last two years, I have presented over 30 solo harp and chamber music concerts all around Houston, Texas. Performances have taken place at an AIDS clinic in Montrose, homeless shelters in Downtown and East Houston, and in the waiting room of The Texas Children’s Cancer Center in the Medical Area. Community concerts have occurred in Midtown and at Rice University. And seniors have been introduced to the harp in Midtown and West Houston. Ages of audience members range from only 18 months to seniors in their 90s. The vast majority of the listeners are lower-class, and are often homeless or in extreme poverty. They are frequently Hispanic, African-American, or another minority group. 47 Strings works to make an individual connection with every audience member regardless of age, race, or socio-economic status through original programming that presents specific pieces and pertinent information based on the audience’s age and previous music knowledge.

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About Author

Houston harpist MEGHAN CAULKETT received her masters degree from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, where she studied with Paula Page. Under the tutelage of Ann Hobson Pilot, Meghan received her Bachelor of Music Degree Summa Cum Laude from Boston University. Meghan was a Young Artist with Da Camera of Houston in 2011, and a Young Artist Fellow in 2013. Originally from Tahoe City, California, Meghan Caulkett received her Bachelor of Music Degree Summa Cum Laude from Boston University under Ann Hobson Pilots and her Master’s Degree from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University with mentor Paula Page. An active performer and recitalist all over the southeastern United States, she is currently in her fourth season as principal harpist of both the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra and Symphony of Southeast Texas. She is regularly a substitute musician with the Houston Symphony, and has also performed with the San Antonio Symphony, Opera Tampa, as well as the modern group Musiqa. Meghan was a Young Artist with Da Camera of Houston in 2011, and a Young Artist Fellow in 2013. She will also be joining the Dallas Opera for their performance of Iolanta in April 2015. In 2012, Meghan founded 47 Strings, an innovative music performance organization dedicated to music education that reaches out to underserved audiences with engaging and accessible harp music concerts. 47 Strings is the recipient of grants from the American Harp Society, Constellation Community Champions program, and Richter Fund for Music Outreach. The program has partnered with Houston homeless shelters to initiate the "Learning Through Music" Residency, and is a presenter with Young Audiences of Houston and the Arts in Medicine program at the Texas Children’s Cancer Center. 47 Strings has been featured in Harp Column and Modern Luxury Magazines, as well as on the Boston University Citizen Artist Series. In 2014, Meghan was be a guest lecturer on arts entrepreneurship at Rice University. As a young trailblazer on the Houston arts scene, Meghan’s passion for music and performing is only rivaled by an extraordinary spirit for bringing people together and celebrating the joy and vibrancy of her community.

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