Best New Music on HCM

Our favorite new music picks for your next recital program

Harpist/composer Amy Nam shares her favorite picks!

Looking for something fresh to add to your next recital program? Check out our top picks for engaging, contemporary pieces. Perfect for a variety of settings, these pieces will challenge your technique and expand your creative imagination.

When you need to round out a themed program…

Dance, Marie! Dance! is a short solo by Anne Vanschothorst that can be played on either pedal or lever harp. Understated and intimate, the work is inspired Degas’s sculpture “La Petite Danseuse,” making this piece a great choice for a variety of program themes, such as visual art, French art, dance, or movement.

When you need a substantial piece for a degree recital…

Winner of the 2017 Marilyn Costello/Lyra Society competition, Ben Yee-Paulson’s  The Star at Night is a substantial, 10-minute work for pedal harp solo. A spectrum of colors, techniques, and moods combine to evoke the celestial title of this introspective, ethereal work.

When you want to show what the harp can do…

Mingwei He’s original pedal harp solo Design, named a finalist in the 2018 USA IHC Composition Competition, comes in four bite-sized movements inspired by images in a Robert Frost poem. Drawing on a variety of extended techniques (including the use of paper in the strings, a superball stick, and a lot of pedal slides), this charming piece is substantial enough for a formal concert and engaging enough to work well for an audience of children.

When you’re ready for a workout…

Marked “Briskly,” David Lefkowitz’s pedal harp solo Etude is a small endurance exercise, composed of an uninterrupted string of sixteenth notes rushing frantically in contrast with the slowly evolving, ethereal harmonies. If you’re feeling intrepid, the composer has authored another pedal harp solo, Ancient Rituals, Distant Landscapes, a dramatic work involving amplification and speaking, culminating in glissandos harmonized with a scream.

David Lefkowitz



When you want to take a stand…

Trilogy, for pedal harp and organ, is a three-movement work by Maurice Draughn. Commissioned by Angelica Hairston for the 2019 Challenge the Stats concert, Trilogy is inspired by themes of social justice. Each movement includes extended moments for the harp to shine and is well-edited for playability.

Maurice Draughn



When you want to jump on the harp quartet bandwagon…

John Wickey’s Obelisk, for pedal harp quartet, uses ancient modes and harp effects to depict the music and mythology of ancient Egypt. The three-movement work sports an especially spine-tingling middle movement replete with fluttering glissando and bisbigliando textures.

John Wickey



When you just need something new and fun…

You can be sure you’ll find a fun and original piece for almost any occasion in the repertoire of Andy Scott, which includes a pedal harp solo, three works for pedal harp and flute, and a trio for flute, tenor saxophone, and pedal harp. Playable, rhythmic, jazz inflected, lots of personality—check them out!

2 thoughts on “Best New Music on HCM

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