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 have been having two meetings a year, in spring and fall, and try to have special guests and harp performances at each. In the last couple of years we’ve had a wedding consultant teach us about the value of using up-to-date social media in getting jobs; a composer/web and music program designer demonstrate the Sibelius music-writing program; two members talk about travels to Cuba and its music schools and a year-long trip around the world visiting harpists in several cultures; and ensemble performances.
Every year we hold Adjudications (sometimes called Auditions and Evaluations) that consist of students playing for a qualified harpist who is not their teacher, who gives written and oral suggestions on improving their performance. The students return in a month to play the same pieces for the same adjudicator, plus a third, if they wish. Students also take a written theory test at the level of their own choosing.
Some of Our History
In 2008 the Greater Seattle Chapter of the American Harp Society celebrated its 40th anniversary. 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 then, the nucleus of a dozen or so members has grown to over 125 in 2018, and many of the original members are still active today. Ours has been a vibrant chapter, hosting 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.
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.
Have you visited the Harp Spectrum website? Chapter members along with some of Seattle’s folk harpers were the founders in 1999 and still manage and maintain it.
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.