Silicon Valley Chapter of the American Harp Society

A dynamic group of professional and amateur harpists

Chapter Events 2022

Our 2022 Student Education Sessions were held via video submission for Session I, and then with an in person recital for Session II. The recital took place April 30, 2022 at New Community Church in Menlo Park and featured a record 34 performers, from the tiniest and newest harpists through our college bound competition winners. The participants were students from six of our SVCAHS chapter harp teachers; Dominique Piana, Janice Ortega, Kristal Schwartz, Esther Lee, Sonya Yu and Linda Rollo. Ms. Yu heads up the SES project each year, and invests countless hours of time making sure everything works seamlessly. Other SVCAHS board members volunteered at the recital. Our 2022 adjudicator was Stanford harp faculty and San Francisco Ballet principal harp, Annabelle Taubl. Thanks to everyone who participated to make this such a successful and enjoyable event!
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On March 13, the Silicon Valley Chapter of the AHS hosted Harp Live! In person for the first time since the pandemic began. The event was held at the beautiful Moss Beach home of Gwen Halterman, overlooking the ocean. The St. Patrick's Day theme honored the music of Turlough O'Carolan and other Irish repertoire. Irish native, Jennifer Hurley, added authenticity with her lovely accent and humorous stories. Brian Swager played a beautiful arrangement of Londonderry Air; Sue and Ken Dinwiddie added several traditional tunes in a harp and flute duet. Lynne Rovin and Hella Bluhm-Stieber, Kristal Schwartz and her daughter, Constance, all continued the music. It was a very enjoyable gathering to honor the harp and our music friends. We hope the tradition will continue!
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Chapter Events 2020-2021

Student Education Sessions (SES) is an annually recurring event, sponsored by the American Harp Society. Participants prepare two harp pieces and perform them for an adjudicator in Session I. The adjudicator gives verbal and written feedback to the student to help them improve. Session II takes place a month or so later, in the form of a public recital with all of the participants.
In 2021, Session I took place virtually, via video submission, due to pandemic restrictions. 23 Harpists of all levels participated in the virtual format in 2020, and we were thrilled to have 26 harpists participate in 2021. The Session II recital was held online on March 21 via Zoom and was attended by more than 50 listeners. Cost to participate is $40 for SVCAHS members and $50 for non-members, which includes your student membership.
The 2021 adjudicator was the very accomplished Dr. Kimberly Houser Taylor.

Attendees enjoyed a special workshop with Paul Hurst on Arranging and Improvising for the Harp. The event was hosted on Zoom on Sunday, April 25, at 3:00 pm. All SVCAHS and BACAHS members were invited to attend. A recording of the workshop can be made available to members who missed this wonderful event.
Paul Hurst,, has played piano professionally since age 17, and shortly after, also developed a passion for the harp. He has decades of high level performance and composing/arranging experience on both instruments, including performing with many music legends in Las Vegas, and performing internationally. Paul's full bio can be found here.

The SVCAHS hosted a Holiday Play-along on Zoom on Saturday, December 4, 2021. We had an assortment of harp ensemble music for members to play along with from the comfort of their own homes. Ensemble music was accessible to various skill levels, and there were also a few holiday performance videos by chapter members, as well as time to chat with friends.

Chapter Events 2018-2019

Our 2019 Fall Kickoff event was held Sunday, September 29 at the Los Altos home of Carol Pugh. The kickoff featured background harp music by Debbi Ricks and Tamara Mead, and a panel discussion about playing harp for weddings.
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Harp Extravaganza Concerts - November 10 and 17, 2018

Members of the Silicon Valley Chapter, along with the Silicon Valley Youth Harp Ensemble presented the second annual Harp Extravaganza concert. This year, the more than 20 participating harpists, performed in a public concert at Christ Episcopal Church in Los Altos on November 10, and a week later, repeated the performance for a packed audience at The Villages in San Jose.

Chapter Events 2017-2018

US International Music Competition August 2018, Stanford University

The Silicon Valley Chapter of the AHS is a proud co-sponsor of the US International Music Competition at Stanford University. Harp is included in the competition in even years and was held August 18-19, 2018. See for more details. This year's competition included both pedal harp and Celtic harp divisions for harpists up to age 30. The competition is sponsored by the US International Music Foundation and the Chinese String Teachers Association of Northern California.
There was a Winners Concert on August 26, 2018 in Palo Alto. Many of our chapter members competed and won prizes in the competition. A complete list can be found on our Honors and Awards page.
SVCAHS Members Shine at AHS National Conference

Our own Silicon Valley Youth Harp Ensemble presented a forty-five minute concert at the American Harp Society National Conference in June, 2018 at University of Redlands in southern California.
In addition to our Youth Ensemble, our chapter was represented by a number of other performers at the National Conference. Dominique Piana gave a presentation/performance on the harp music and contributions of Alfred Kastner and Kajetan Attl to the harp world. Paul Hurst gave an hour-long tribute to DeWayne Fulton. The San Jose Youth Symphony Harp Ensemble, directed by Kristal Barlaan, performed pre-concert music before the Concerto Competition. Many other non-performing chapter members attended the conference.
Panel Discussion: Putting Your Harp Passion To Work For You: College and Beyond - May 6, 2018

If you have questions about applying for college as a music major, want to know options for using your harp talent while in college in a different major, or want to know how to parlay your (hidden) talent on the harp into public performance, this is the event for you. Our distinguished panel includes:

Douglas Rioth, San Francisco Symphony Principal Harp, San Francisco Conservatory of Music faculty, SF Symphony Youth Orchestra harp coach

Ann Yeung, Professor of Harp, University of Illinois (biography)

Linda Wood Rollo, renowned harp instructor with many students who have become professional harpists (biography)

Jennifer Ellis, D.M.A. University of Michigan, M.M. Cleveland Institute of Music, B.M. Oberlin - dynamic Bay Area harpist (biography)

Denise Olson, K-12 educator and Juilliard harp parent (biography)
Ann Yeung Master Class, May 5, 2018

Ann Yeung,
Professor of Harp at the University of Illinois, held a master class for harpists at the home of Linda Rollo in San Jose. Auditors and those seeking private lessons were welcomed.
SVCAHS held our annual Student Education Sessions (SES), part of the AHS curriculum, on February 11 and March 11, 2018. This year's adjudicator was Lynn Taffin. Eighteen of our chapter members participated and received an AHS certificate. The program is formally known as the AHS Auditions and Evaluations Program.

Participating students each performed for Ms. Taffin on February 11 and received verbal and written feedback about how to improve their performances.
On Saturday afternoon, March 10, 2018, the students performed a polished version of their pieces in a recital setting at Christ Episcopal Church in Los Altos, CA.

Jacqueline Trager and Gwen Halterman provided a lavish buffet reception for the performers and guests following the recital. Elegant food, multiple bouquets of flowers, roses for the participants and a congratulatory cake were included. Thanks so much to Jacqueline and Gwen for their hospitality, to Lynn Taffin for her time and expertise, and especially to Sonya You for organizing the entire event!

About Lynn Taffin: Lynn graduated summa cum laude from Boston University with Lucile Lawrence and earned her master's degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with Marcella DeCray. Her studies in Paris with Mari-Claire James were granted by a prestigious Rotary Ambassadorial scholarship. She studied at the Salzedo School under Alice Chalifoux and began studies with a protege of Marcel Grandjany.

SES is an annually recurring event usually held in February and March. Online registration for the 2019 sessions will be available in January on the SES website at Email for more information:
Saturday, November 18, 2017 - Harp Extravaganza Concert

Members of the Silicon Valley Chapter of the American Harp Society once again presented a Harp Ensemble Concert, in collaboration with the Silicon Valley Youth Harp Ensemble on Saturday, November 18, 2017. The concert took place at the Cribari Auditorium at The Villages in San Jose. The auditorium was packed and the audience was very enthusiastic. The ensembles have been invited to perform again in this venue in the future.

Chapter Events 2016-2017

Naoko Yoshino in Concert, July 26-29, 2017

We had the wonderful opportunity to hear Naoko Yoshino in concert this summer. She performed the Debussy Danses and other chamber works for the harp in the Musical Days Festival at Forest Hill, San Francisco from July 26-29, 2017.
Ms. Yoshino began harp studies with Susann McDonald at age 6 and later won First Prize at the 9th International Harp Contest in Israel. She has 5 album releases on Sony Classical and has performed extensively throughout the world as a soloist with some of the world's most famous orchestras as well as in solo recitals.
Katherine Siochi, AHS Concert Artist Master Class and Recital

On Sunday, June 11, 2017, Katherine Siochi, AHS Concert Artist for 2015-2017 gave a Recital and Master Class. Katherine is the 2016 Gold Medalist of the 10th USA International Harp Competition, one of the world's most prestigious harp contests, and is only the second American to win the prize since the competition's inaugural year in 1989. Katherine has also received many awards in national harp competitions. As AHS Concert Artist, Ms. Siochi is presenting recitals and master classes over 20 cities across the US. Her performances have been featured on NPR's radio program, "From The Top", on New York Public Radio for WQXR's "Young Artist Showcase", and on "Performance Today".
Both events were held at Congregation Beth Shalom in San Francisco.

Susann McDonald Events, February 2017

Susann McDonald, renowned harpist, recording artist, and teacher, came to the Bay Area for three spectacular events from February 25-28, 2017. Many talented harpists attended Master Classes and a lunch discussion with this trailblazing artist who has elevated the harp and inspired harp students around the world through a performing and teaching career that spans more than five decades.
The weekend included a Master Class in San Jose on February 25, a Master Class in San Francisco on February 26, and a "Recharging Your Passion" luncheon on February 28. The Luncheon and discussion with Ms McDonald and
Linda Wood Rollo was given for teachers and adult students, and took place at the home of Linda Rollo.
In total, there were 24 participants and 70 auditors at the two Master Classes, with some harpists having traveled a long distance to attend
. Over twenty professional harpists and teachers attended the luncheon, which featured questions and answers, as well as inspiring conversations.

Our annual Fall Kickoff Event was held the afternoon of September 11, 2016
at the Los Gatos home of Jennifer Hurley. The event featured a very entertaining and informative program on A Harpist's Tips For Success, given by Karen Gottlieb and Laura Simpson.
Barbecue and other refreshments were provided by the SVCAHS board, and swimming was available for children.
Thanks to everyone who came and made this another enjoyable and successful gathering of our harp community. Special Thanks to Karen and Laura for their outstanding program and performance.

Harp Live!

Most Recent Harp Live Gatherings:

Sunday, April 3, 2016
in the beautiful Moss Beach home of Gwen Halterman, overlooking the ocean.
Held jointly with our friends from the Bay Area Chapter of the AHS
Sunday, March 13, 2016
Second Annual St. Patrick's Day Harp Live
CB Hannegan's Irish Pub, Los Gatos

Sunday, February 21, 2016
at the Los Gatos home of Jennifer Hurley

What is Harp Live?
Harp Live!, formerly called "Performance Practice", is a quarterly gathering where chapter members are invited to bring their favorite pieces to share or play for the group. Sessions include solos, harp duets, and/or chamber ensemble pieces. All are welcome to bring music they are working on, or just come to listen and enjoy the company of other harpists. Remember, you do not have to perform; you can participate by coming to hear others play. You will always hear or learn something new. Most participants give a history of the piece or the composer, how they found the piece, or why they enjoy playing it. And, if you do play, it does not have to be a polished performance! Wonderful refreshments are served and hairs are provided. It is a great time to rekindle your harp spirit.

Our own Silicon Valley Youth Harp Ensemble (Y.E.S.) performed holiday music at the San Jose Museum of Art from 5:00-8:00 pm on December 17, 2015. By all accounts, the performance was outstanding and the ensemble has already been invited back to perform in the future. The "Christmas in the Park" event took place just outside the museum, making it a very festive time of year to celebrate in downtown San Jose. The performance was the third annual ensemble performance by SVCAHS at the SJ Museum of Art and the first for our Youth Ensemble. The ensemble also delighted guests of a private Christmas party in December. For information about the ensemble's upcoming concert appearances, please visit: