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People always ask me how I started playing the harp. My childhood recollections do not include a special moment of infatuation but instead a gradual and deepening relationship over the course of many years. I remember finding a harp next to the Christmas tree when I was 8 years old. My exhilaration at this discovery required some patience on my part since my first harp teacher expected that all her students have a grasp of basic skills in reading music. I spent some months reluctantly studying piano and finally started the harp when I was 9. At the time, we lived in Iowa and my harp teacher was only 20 miles away. Within a year we moved to Rochester, Minnesota. My father liked my teacher and wanted me to continue studying with her, so we started commuting. When we moved to Wisconsin and then Texas, we found other teachers, of course, but we ended up back in southern Minnesota eventually, where I graduated from high school, studying once again with my first teacher, Mary Beckman, a 3 hour commute. During the summers of my 16th and 18th years, I attended the Salzedo Harp Colony in Camden, Maine, studying with Alice Chalifoux. It was my time there that made me wish to study further with her at Oberlin Conservatory for my college years. Impatient with high school and eager to begin full-time musical study, I convinced my high school Principal to allow me to combine my Junior and Senior years to graduate one year early.

In addition to the usual music studies at Oberlin, I became involved in the very active early music scene there. I learned a good deal of medieval music, since Oberlin owned a replica of a medieval harp, and I took lessons on viola da gamba during Winter Term of my Senior year. My time at Oberlin also included a great deal of exposure to New Music for which Oberlin has a well-deserved reputation of excellence.

After graduating from Oberlin, I decided to try my fortunes in Charleston, South Carolina, since there were no harpists in the area at the time. In a matter of months, I was busier than I ever imagined possible. For 5 years I lived there, playing up and down the coast. I played in the Charleston, Jacksonville, and Savannah symphonies regularly, occasionally commuting as far as Augusta and Raleigh. I played in the historic Mills House Hotel and the Meeting Street Inn on a regular basis, and for private events played in virtually all of the historic mansions and plantations in the area, including the famous “Tara” of Gone With the Wind fame. I played with many area musicians in chamber music programs of all types, including a recital of trumpet and harp music, which was repeated in New York City at the New York Brass Conference.


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