The mission of the American Harp Society, Inc. is to “celebrate our legacy, inspire excellence, and empower the next generation of harpists”. We bring this mission to life through sharing and education – for harpists of all ages and interests, the wider musical community, and the public at large.
Playing any musical instrument, whether as a vocation or avocation, brings innumerable benefits. Performing arts students of any age benefit by being disciplined, learning a skill, being part of the music world, managing performance, being part of something you can be proud of, and gaining self-confidence. Harpists in particular enjoy unique employment opportunities in the commercial world in addition to paths in traditional classical music. And audiences benefit from uplifting performances.
But there are barriers to being a harpist. There is much competition in today’s world for the attention of young people, and learning an instrument does not necessarily offer the immediate gratification often sought by those growing up in a technological age. The availability and expense of instruments and teachers, and frequent isolation of harp students of every age can also deter those who “always wanted to play the harp.” Once competent as a performer, opportunities for ensemble experience and even employment may be limited, and desirable repertoire may not always available. The stereotype of the harp as merely “decorative” or “angelic” may also deter serious applications, or minimize its value to a listener.
Through AHS’s programs we put our mission into action to address the barriers in the harp community. The youth experience at the 42nd National Conference of the American Harp Society has been designed to offer a wide range of musical and personal growth opportunities to young aspiring harpists, and is a central focus of the programming throughout the Conference. Students of varying levels of skill will rehearse and be coached by leading teachers and conductors, and have performance opportunities in front of a national audience alongside internationally renown artists. A number of workshops will help youth develop skills in practice and memorization techniques, learn how to avoid injuries, and gain confidence in preparing for school auditions. Master classes are being offered with four leading teachers which students may still observe and learn from if not accepted to play. Every concert offers discovery of new repertoire and inspiration to achieve greater levels of accomplishment. Students may also have the opportunity for a valuable taste of college life by staying together (with supervision) in the dormitories at Emory University. All of these experiences will help youth build insights and relationships that will open doors for their future education and careers as musicians.
All of the professional harpists involved in the youth experience are donating their services as AHS members, with some travel assistance for headliner artists provided by AHS, and non-harpists receive professional fees. AHS hopes that funding will not be a barrier to participation at the Conference for interested youth, and plans to offer scholarships ranging from $320 to $1,060 depending on travel distance and chaperone requirements as funding is available (more detail on all youth experience expenses is available for review). Contributions of any size are gratefully accepted to underwrite this youth experience, and will be recognized appropriately during the Conference. If you wish you may designate your gift to support scholarships, the opening night concert, or the overall youth experience. A donation form is available for download here, or you may contribute securely online by credit card. Corporate sponsorships are also available. Any questions may be directed to Kathryn McManus, Executive Director of the American Harp Society, Inc. at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your consideration.