The Greater Seattle Chapter of the American Harp Society has over 125 members from a large area that starts at the western end of Puget Sound in Olympia, continues through Tacoma and Seattle and all the way north to Bellingham, a 150 mile ride, and east to Wenatchee in the Cascade mountains, about 140 miles. Meetings are usually in Seattle, which is a central location and where the majority of members live.
We hold two meetings a year, in spring and fall, for our members to convene and discuss Chapter goals and activities. Additionally, we organize and schedule events like sponsored talks and harp performances throughout the year. Some of our recent sponsored events have included a wedding consultant teaching us about the value of using up-to-date social media in getting jobs; a composer and music program designer demonstrating the Sibelius music-writing program; two members giving talks about their travels to Cuba and its music schools, and a year-long trip around the world visiting harpists in several cultures. In 2018, we welcomed AHS Young Professional Division Winner, Abigail Kent, who gave a masterclass and performance over two days.
In 1968, Seattle harpist Joan Clark began seeing the need for more support and more teachers for the then far-flung students learning on the relatively new Troubadour harps. She interested local harpists Lynne Palmer and Dawn Paggeot in the idea, and on September 17, 1968, Marcel Grandjany and Catherine Gothoffer signed and sent out an Authorization to Organize a Chapter, which was followed on October 30, 1968 by the chapter’s new charter.
In the decades since, the dozen or so original members has grown to over 125 current members. Our vibrant chapter hosted the AHS national conference in 1974, the World Harp Congress in 1996, and the AHS national conference in 2010, presenting premieres of several works for harp, and concerts and workshops by many of the world’s leading classical, jazz and Celtic harp players including Dan Yu, Judy Loman, Floraleda Sacchi, Deborah Henson-Conant, Ray Pool, Louise Trotter, Dan Yu, Judy Loman, Julia Kay Jamieson, and Robbin Gordon-Cartier. In 2018 the Greater Seattle Chapter of the American Harp Society celebrated its 50th anniversary.
We also have had frequent locally-led workshops for teachers and students. Some of our officers have gone on to fill officer positions nationally and internationally, such as Patricia Wooster who has chaired both the AHS and WHC, Lynne Wainwright Palmer, AHS chairman of the board (1989) and vice-president (1989-1990), Susi Hussong, regional director 2008-2012, and Catherine Barrett, current NW regional director. Former students like Heidi Lehwalder and Paul Baker have risen to national prominence thanks to fine local instruction, and several of our members are published composers and arrangers. As well, we are one of very few chapters to have held annual adjudications almost since our inception, a good indication of the interest and support of our teachers.
In 2010 we were very pleased to receive one of the Chapter of the Year awards (along with the Silicon Valley Chapter) for our work in presenting the 2010 conference and our many activities including concerts by visiting artists, workshops, camps, adjudication, ensembles and more. This follows achieving Honorable Mention status in 2004 in recognition of our having doubled our membership in two years, held student workshops, harp regulations, adjudications, and a concert and teachers’ workshop with Judy Loman.