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Forget everything you thought you knew about harp music

Date: May 24, 2019
Classical MPR. Click here for the original article.

Forget everything you thought you knew about the capabilities of the harp.

Jennifer Higdon’s new harp concerto is “strong, feisty, and heroic,” says Yolanda Kondonassis, the harpist for whom the piece was composed. In her interview with Fred Child for Performance Today, she said that she and Pulitzer Prize-winner Higdon collaborated to create a harp piece unlike any other.

Both Higdon and Kondonassis agreed that they wanted to avoid a “pretty little harp piece” and would instead create a work that would highlight the harp’s unexpected power. To give Kondonassis the opportunity to “let loose and fly a little,” Higdon wrote the second and fourth movements with a fun, unrelenting groove. However, Kondonassis says that her favorite part to play is the Lullaby, for which Higdon drew from the harpist’s relationship with her daughter.

The result of Higdon and Kondonassis’ collaboration truly defies expectation. The Concerto for Harp, by Jennifer Higdon, was premiered by Kondonassis and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in May 2018. Listen to that performance and the interview with the harpist on Performance Today.