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July News & Announcements

2013 Scholarship Recipients Announced!

May 30: The Somerset Folk Harp Festival and Mike Connors, director of guitar and harp at the Penn-Griffin School fort the Arts in High Point North Carolina, announces that Miranda Thomas, a 10th grade student at the school, is the recipient of the fifth full-festival scholarship. Miss Thomas is completing her second year of harp study in Mr. Connors' innovative harp program, featured last year in an article in the Folk Harp Journal. Festival director Kathy DeAngelo extended the scholarship offer to Mr. Connors after reading that article. Connors created an application process that was adjudicated by other teaching staff.
Miranda Thomas' harp activities and performances include recitals at Penn-Griffin, ” the On Stage” showcase at War Memorial Auditorium in Greensboro, the MLK Celebration at the High Point Theatre. She has also done television appearances, performances for area retirement homes, district events, churches, charity and civic organizations, multi-cultural festivals and programs in elementary schools, including two years of service learning projects bringing harps to students with autism and physical/learning disabilities.

May 11: Today's Mid-Atlantic Fleadh Cheoil in Parsippany bustled with music in every meeting room in the hotel. The harp competitions were held in Morris 2 and adjudicated by Deidre Danaher. The first place winners in each of the age groups received a scholarship to the Somerset Folk Harp Festival. They are: Emily Safko (under 12), Kristin Ware (12-15) , Kellianne Kornick (15- 18), and Alex Boatright in the senior, over 18.


Scholarship Winners:

On left: Kristin Ware and Kellianne Kornick.
Right: Alex Boatright


March 21: The Somerset Folk Harp Festival announces that it will award scholarships to its festival to the winning participants in the harp competition at the Mid-Atlantic Region Fleadh Cheoil, being in held in Parsippany NJ, on May 11. The competition is adjudicated by Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann. "This will be the fifth consecutive year that the festival has offered these awards," says festival director Kathy DeAngelo, "and they're meant to encourage aspiring young harpers to play traditional Irish music." This year the festival is offering a specialty Youth Harp Program, and first place fleadh winners in the 12-15 and 15-18 age groups will be eligible to participate in this program or attend any of its 100+ workshops over the course of its four days. The senior-level harp winner will also be awarded a full-festival admission. The winner of the under 12 competition will be awarded a Saturday festival admission. An accompanying parent/guardian admission is also included in the prize for the juveniles.
The Somerset Folk Harp Festival takes place July 18-21 at the Hilton Parsippany, Parsippany NJ.

Louise Trotter recognized for Lifetime Achievement

If you weren't at the festival on Thursday July 18, you missed a brilliant performance by one of the harp community's most-beloved performers and presenters, Louise Trotter. Louise was awarded our second Lifetime Achievement Award following her performance and we held a reception following the concert in her honor. Here is the testimonial we included in the 2013 program:

You can’t pack much more into one professional lifetime than what Louise Trotter has accomplished in her long and distinguished career as a musician and harpist, teacher and performer. She says that she started playing piano when she was 6 years old and knew right away that she wanted to be a musician because she loved performing right from the start.  Performing has been her life’s passion. Every time you see her perform she brings such energy to the stage and engages her audience on a very personal level. Even if you’d never seen her before, she finishes her performances and you feel you know her. The wit.  The charm.  The precise yet sensitive touch on the harp and the beautiful arrangements that speak to the years of maturity and experience.

We’re lucky that her father really liked the harp and built her one when she was 9, though she says she didn’t particularly have his passion for it at the beginning. Perhaps picking up on his being a life-long musician, she eventually realized that harp was her ticket to a music career. She felt she could do interesting things with it because of its novelty then. Her first professional gig at 18 was an 8-week stint doing a collegiate variety show, traveling across Texas with the troupe by train, doing  2 solos with the stage band in 4 shows a day. By the end of the summer she had earned $150. What a start! After moving to Houston in 1975 with her husband and 3 children, she found she could get paid for playing the harp. She says “You have to perform as much as possible to develop stage presence and confidence.” And for decades she’s done just that and it shows.

By the folk harp revival in the early Eighties and with the creation of the Folk Harp Journal and the International Society of Folk Harpers and Craftsmen (ISFHC), Louise really got into developing her stage act and performances and she began teaching more and more workshops.  She does it all. She has CDs. She has books. From pop standards, hymns and spirituals, jazz classics, and of course, her country & western influences, Louise plays everything with consummate style. Then she puts all of that down on paper and publishes it in terrific arrangements for solos, duets, and  ensembles. The sheer breadth of her recording and publishing career is a testament to her energy and creativity.

Louise Trotter has performed at many Somerset festivals and it’s good to have her back. She is a beloved figure here and her workshops are always popular. She just has a way of connecting with you at whatever level you’re at. Tap into her experience and enjoy her workshops this weekend.

The ISFHC gave her their Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003. We’re overdue  in recognizing her contribution to our harp community. We present Louise with our second Lifetime Achievement Award and recognize her extraordinary career.  Please be sure to chat her up while you’re here this weekend and extend your congratulations too.

Arpas En Armonia & Somerset!

UPDATE: July 24, 2013
Our attendees donated 2 full boxes of used sheet music and harp strings at the festival. Besides that, they "passed the hat" at La Fiesta on Saturday night and the band donated all of the hat to Arpas en Armonia, enough to buy 15 levers for harps in Guatemala

June 17, 2013: In 2003, Patrice Fisher and Carlos Valladares began the Arpas En Armonia program at El Sitio Cultural Center in Antigua, Guatemala to develop a music and harp program. Since then they have partnered with a local carpenter who has built over 50 harps for their growing school of enthusiastic young harp students. Using Skype, Patrice has developed a resident local teacher in 22-year old Brendy Boj through Saturday morning lessons and the program reaches into 3 cities as well as El Salvador. Click here to see the video about this program and hear them play.

The project inspires a spirit of international friendship between North America and Central America. Seven harpists and teachers have travelled, at their own expense, to give volunteer harp lessons and concerts with Arpas students. Over the years Patrice and Carlos, in addition to teaching and doing concerts, have collected used harp strings and music and brought them down for use by their Guatemalan students.

We are so lucky in America to be able to come to events like the Somerset Folk Harp Festival and share our love of music and the harp. Many of our attendees come to the festival to revel in the cornucopia of harps and music in the Exhibit Hall. Probably many of you have lots of sheet music and music books at home that you no longer use. Make way for new music on that shelf, and cull through your collection and put it to use! This year Somerset will partner with Arpas En Armonia to collect unused sheet music and music books at the festival, which will be brought to the students in Guatemala to use and enjoy. If anyone has recently replaced levers on the harp, and still has the old ones, they could use those as well!

So besides bringing your harp to Somerset, we ask that you bring a few contributions for our Arpas En Armonia music collection box, which will be displayed at the Registration Desk at the festival.