The American Harp Society announced three winners in its Harp Carnivale Student Harp Ensemble Contest. The winning ensembles, which were selected after submitting an application and recording last spring, performed at the AHS’s 41st National Conference, held in New Orleans June 22-25, 2014. The winning ensembles were the Crane Harp Ensemble, from New York, directed by Jessica Suchy-Pilalis; The Atlanta Harp Ensemble, directed by Susan Bennett Brady; and the Harp Beats, from Denton, Texas, directed by Jaymee Haefner.
About the Ensembles
The Atlanta Harp Ensemble, featuring students of Susan Bennett Brady, has been in existence since 1987. Currently the advanced ensemble has six harpists between the ages of 14 and 18 who are scholarship and competition winners, as well as members of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra, Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestra of Atlanta, and Georgia All State Orchestra, Band, and Chorus. They perform for church and school music programs as soloists, choral accompanists, and orchestra members. The group has been featured at the Spivey Hall, the Fox Theater, Governor’s Mansion, Atlanta History Center, the 1996 Summer Olympics, the American Harp Society Georgia Chapter Meetings and Gala Ensemble events and the AHS 1990 National Conference in Michigan. Susan Bennett Brady and student Ashley Price collaborate to write and arrange music for the group.
The Crane Harp Ensemble was founded in 1999 under the direction of Dr. Jessica Suchy-Pilalis, Professor of Harp and Music Theory at the Crane School of Music, SUNY-Potsdam. The ensemble celebrated its fifteenth season with Fifteen Minutes of Fame, a composite work of fifteen one-minute pieces by fifteen different composers, selected via competition (see article by ensemble member Katherine Federiconi in the American Harp Journal, Vol. 14 No. 1, p. 59). This composite piece was presented as part of a five-concert tour last November, and selections from it are included in the ensemble’s performance at Harp Carnivale. Book-ending the program are Dizzy Gillespie’s A Night in Tunisia and Sufjan Steven’s Chicago, both arranged by ensemble member Mikaela Davis as part of her Presidential Scholars Project.
The UNT Harp Beats ensemble is gaining recognition as one of the most innovative student harp ensembles in the country. Led by Dr. Jaymee Haefner, the ensemble is made up of harp majors who arrange most of the ensemble’s music. The ensemble’s repertoire ranges from J.S Bach to Radiohead and everything in-between, and also includes several original compositions for the ensemble, written by members of the group. Recent appearances include a performance for Anita Perry during the First Lady’s visit to Denton, a performance for the American Harp Society 9th Summer Institute. The Harp Beats were recently featured on CBS-11, and have recently recorded three singles (Take 5, Maple Leaf Rag, and Premonition), which are available for purchase at the online UNT Music Store and support the ensemble’s future projects. Follow the UNT Harp Beats on Facebook and Twitter for upcoming performances.