We're glad to have Erik back at his fourth Somerset (so far two on video, two in person)! Fueled by his interest in medieval history and fantasy literature, Erik Ask-Upmark started playing folk music when he was a teenager and took up piano and harpsichord. His friend built a small harp and asked him to try it out and he was hooked. At the same time he took up the Swedish bagpipe. Nordic music became his passion and he has recorded many CDs solo and with his groups including the critically acclaimed "Heaven's Polska" and "Winter is coming". His latest CD 1350 - Music for a plague features medieval music where he plays different Gothic harps, among many other instruments! Erik has has earned the coveted title of "Riksspelman" (Master musician of the Realm in Sweden) and performs early music and Nordic traditional music both as a soloist and with his groups Svanevit, Dråm and Falsobordone. He lives at the tip of Sweden and is just about an hour from Copenhagen from where he usually travels all over the world to give concerts and workshops. Like every other gigging musician, over the last two years however he has - for obvious reasons - come to focus more on sharing his music by digital means from the safety of his own home.
Presenter website: Erik Ask-Upmark
Patricia Bair is a licensed Occupational Therapist with over 30 years’ experience in the treatment of upper extremity injuries. She has a certification in Music Ergonomics and has completed additional training in the treatment of musicians’ injuries through the University of Western Michigan, MedBridge, and the Performing Arts Medicine Association. While employed at Orlando Health’s Center for Advanced Rehabilitation, she was instrumental in establishing a program of education and screening for orchestral musicians.
Presenter website: Bair Hands--Music Ergonomics
“My Muse, tho' hamely in attire, May touch the heart." said Robert Burns. There is nothing ‘hamely’ about Debbie Brewin-Wilson’s artistry as a musician and singer, and the combination of these skills with her passion for Robert Burns results in music that echoes ‘the wood note wild’ as Burns describes the natural and unpretentious singing he liked best. An experienced performer and teacher, Debbie’s repertoire also includes many traditional Scots ballads and Scottish jigs, reels, and strathspeys as well. She is also an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church, her current congregation being in nearby Sparta, NJ. To date, she has three solo CDs, Dream of Caledonia, Roots and Wings, and Love Came Down at Christmas, a mix of original and traditional songs. Cofounder, with Kathy DeAngelo of the Harper’s Escape, she was on staff at the Escape for all of its 24 years and co-authored the Escape tunebooks, Ten Years of Tunes, Another Ten Years of Tunes and The Parting Glass). Debbie has also published three song and harp arrangement collections: Burns for Bairns and Wood Notes Wild and her newest Harp of My King, a compilation of Celtic Tunes New & Old for Christian Worship, which also includes a CD companion. She created our Basically Beginning program in 2009. Beginners will be particularly glad to have a chance to be in-person in her workshops this year. She will also be doing the Beginner group for the Harpers' Escape at Somerset (date to be announced).
Presenter website: Wisdom Harp
Deette Bunn says it was love at first sight but took a year of persistent parental persuasion before she started harp studies when she was 9. Classically trained with a Bachelors and Masters degree in harp performance, Deette has soloed with orchestras throughout the US and has held several principle harp positions as well. She discovered the lever harp - both single and double strung - during her 17 year stint as 2nd harp with the Syracuse Symphony and has been an active teacher and performer on the single and double strung lever harp ever since. Teaching is her passion and she is currently on the faculty at Syracuse and Cornell Universities, giving lessons on both pedal and lever harp. She maintains a full private studio, a busy performance schedule, and is the director of Harmony of Harps, a local lever harp ensemble for which she has written numerous lever harp arrangements. In addition, she works as a double-harp therapist at her local hospital and hospice. Deette is a long-time Somerset attendee. Her Double-strung workshops were so well-received last year we had to have her back.
At home in two cultures, Nicolas Carter was raised in Asuncion, Paraguay, where he learned to play the Paraguayan harp and later in Minnesota. His principal teacher Isidro Caballero (Father to Paraguay's harp genius Nicolasito) taught him in the traditional folk style of learning by ear, an “ideal way for me to learn, every note I have to hear and feel it.” Playing professionally since 1988 in a variety of settings, as accompanist to singer Lizza Bogado, to playing in a various trios and groups from “Son del Sur” (Song from the South, Latin-American folk music), and “Los Amigos” (traditional Mexican music) to ” Nube” (New World Fusion). As a solo harpist, Nicolas has had concerts in Europe, the United States, and Latin America. Nicolas combines his passion for music with a deep interest in theatre, and indeed, holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Theatre Direction from the University of Minnesota. His CDs, more than a dozen, reflect the several musical idioms from Latin to Fusion in which he is fluent. After living in Central America for a few years, Nicolas is now is based in White Plains NY and gigs all over the United States.
Presenter website: Nicolas Carter
An emerging and impressive South American talent, in his second Somerset appearance, Edmar hails from Bogota, Colombia and is a long-time US resident. He has electrified the jazz-fusion musical landscape with his dynamic, virtuoisic and charismatic playing of the South American harp. A reviewer writes: “Edmar’s body seemingly engulfs his Colombian harp as he crafts almost unbelievable feats of cross-rhythms, layered with chordal nuances." His first foray on stage was an act of tremendous courage: that of inviting himself on stage with his big, unusual instrument with acclaimed musicians who had not played with him before. But he was prepared and he wowed them all, musicians and audience alike and his career was launched. At the core of his improvisational preparation is connecting with a melody by playing it until the basic line is such a part of him he can move freely and naturally around it. In 2014 Camac Harps introduced its new Llanera model harp named for Edmar Castañeda.
Presenter website: Edmar Castañeda
Colombian-born Nicolás Castañeda Lozano began his career playing Colombian folk music on llanera harp and percussion instruments, winning numerous awards in Colombia and international competitions which lead to a scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston. He graduated from Berklee in 2016 specializing in jazz composition, having garnered honors there for artistic excellence in jazz and music production. He is at the forefront of a new wave of Latin musicians that combines new music influences with traditional music. We're thrilled he is able to join us on late notice this year for our on-site festival and share his deep experience with the llanera harp music traditions with us.
Presenter website: Nicolas Castañeda
Màiri Chaimbeul hails from the Isle of Skye in Scotland and has been living in Boston for a number of years. She graduated from the Berklee College of Music, where she had been given the American Roots Award, and in 2018 joined its faculty in the Strings Department. She has deep Gaelic traditional music roots, of course, and has been developing her own sound with a distinctive voice and improvisational playing style. As an up-and-coming young harpist, Màiri has twice been nominated for the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award, and was a finalist in both the BBC Young Traditional & Jazz Musicians of the Year and BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician awards. She tours regularly here in the States, the UK and in Europe and performs with fiddler Jenna Moynihan, the progressive-folk group Aerialists, the Brìghde Chaimbeul Trio, and with legendary violinist Darol Anger & the Furies.
Presenter website: Mairi Chaimbeul
Singer and harper Dominique Dodge hails from the White Mountains of New Hampshire and maintains strong ties to Cape Breton and Nova Scotia. Deeply grounded in the music and song traditions of Cape Breton, Ireland, and Scotland, Dominique has a passion for melody-driven dance music and responsive, rhythmic accompaniment, as well as for songs, airs, and 18th century harp music. A former Fulbright Scholar, Dominique has an MA from the University of Limerick in Irish Music Performance and a BA Honours in Scottish Music from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow. She is a fluent and dedicated learner of Scottish Gaelic and current student at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig (The University of Highlands & Islands). Dominique has extensive experience in traditional arts education, and she has taught for many highly regarded organizations including The Gaelic College in Nova Scotia, The Ohio Scottish Arts School, and The University of Aberdeen. Her new CD is called Canan nan Teud, The Language of the Strings. This is Dominique’s 5th year leading our Youth Harp Program, which offers young people a collaborative, multi-faceted approach to traditional music through which they can build both friendships and musical skills.
Presenter website: Dominique Dodge
Sometimes a particular experience will connect with existing skills in such a way that a person will embark in an entirely new but inspired path. Such is the case for Edie Elkan, who with a strong background in music, experience as a teacher of piano, and an early grounding in playing the harp, found herself first, returning to the harp to assuage her own grief, and then discovering that the harp was being used in medical environments which in turn led her to found Bedside Harp in 2002, a New Jersey, hospital-based harp therapy program. In 2005 Elkan was recognized by the Society for the Arts in Health Care for her work at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital’s cancer center, where, in a research project, she discovered that patients who listened to live harp music while receiving chemotherapy were less anxious that those patients who did not. Edie has published Everything You Ever Wanted to Know (about Harp Therapy) and her master’s thesis: The Edie Elkan Method of Teaching Folk Harp as an Instrument of Healing. Also available is a 4-set CD Oodles of Noodles, a recording of a workshop on ‘noodling’ presented at Somerset.
Presenter website: Bedside Harp
From her first glimpse of the harp at age of three, Shelley Fairplay was itching to play. At nine, after time learning piano, her harp journey began. Soon she was playing in harp ensembles, regional and county orchestras, and providing music during theatre performances. From Cardiff, Shelley achieved her BMus and was invited to play a solo with the University Symphony. From the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Shelley received her Masters and soon after that her teaching diploma. Shelley is a fully qualified Primary School teacher with two years of classroom experience where she ran choirs, school orchestras, recorder groups and music workshops. She also has an on-line teaching program at StartHarp.com. where she is known as a thorough, fun and compassionate teacher. Shelley brings passion and energy to all things harp—and fun. This is her second year presenting at the festival.
Presenter website: Shelley Fairplay
Dr. Laurence Furr has an incredible musical pedigree. He is cantor and organist at Trinity Lutheran Church in Fort Worth, TX and has a B.M. and M.M. is in pipe organ performance. A Fulbright scholar, he studied harpsichord in Madrid while earning his Ph.D in music and art history. He found his passion as a therapeutic musician, becoming a Certified Clinical Musician in 2014 through the Harps for Healing program and in 2016 became a Certified Therapeutic Harp Practitioner through IHTP. He works at JPS Health Network in Fort Worth, playing in Surgery, Emergency, ICU, NICU, Trauma, Cardiac, Oncology, and Psychiatric Units. He is on the Board of Advisors for Andrew Schulman’s Medical Musician Initiative. He has produced two solo New Age harp albums on Myndstream, Deep Peace and Upon the Corner of the Moon, which are getting played on several radio stations including PBS and One World Music Radio. This is Laurence's fourth year presenting at Somerset.
Presenter website: Laurence Furr
Maeve Gilchrist thrives on innovation and improvisation - what she fondly calls "my musical patchwork quilt." Steeped from an early age in both classical and traditional music, Edinburgh-born Maeve Gilchrist discovered jazz in her late teens which she pursued at Berklee School of Music in Boston where she also studied voice, percussion and Latin American music. She subsequently became Berklee's first lever harp instructor. Maeve has stretched the traditional boundaries of the harp and has been credited as an innovator of the Clarsach (Scottish Harp) due to her chromatic style of playing and improvising. Now living in New York City, Maeve is touring regularly with her own project and giving workshops worldwide. Performance highlights include the Tanglewood Jazz Festival, The World Harp Congress, and the Celtic Connections Festival. You've seen her on the Somerset stage in numerous artistic configurations with other artists, including with dancer Nic Gareiss. She collaborates and performs with so many artists across so many kinds of musical genres that we have a hard time keeping up with her! She now has four CDs out as well as several instructional books published by Hal Leonard Music. Due to her touring schedule this summer, Maeve will be giving us her workshops on video and we'll schedule her for a Somerset Saturday in the Fall.
Presenter website: Maeve Gilchrist
Joyful, centered, and a consummate musician are words that describe the presence and playing of Robbin Gordon-Cartier. Dedicated early to the study of the harp, Gordon-Cartier spent long summers as a young harpist in Ireland studying at the Royal Irish Academy. Since then she has appeared nationally and internationally everywhere from Carnegie Hall to the National Symphony of Santo Domingo, at events honoring Lord Guiness, Cicely Tyson and Sir James Galway. She plays frequently at churches and gospel events. Robbin teaches an extensive and very successful harp program in the East Orange School District's Cicely Tyson's School of the Performing Arts where she works to bring the harp to the attention of a wide variety of young people, busting stereotypes. Her Cicely Tyson harp ensemble will be playing in our Friday lunchtime concert. Robbin led our Youth Harp Program in 2014 and 2015 and led the Teacher's Symposium for 2 years. Now we have her back this year with a completely updated Teacher's Symposium. She has joined the faculty of Kean University in Union, NJ as Concert Artist/Adjunct Harp Faculty. Robbin has a CD out, Just As I Am.
Presenter website: Robbin Gordon-Cartier
As well as being an acclaimed harper and dynamic teacher, and with five cd’s and four books of music, Rachel has contributed energetically during this difficult time to promote harp music events and classes on-line. Her youtube harp workshop series HARP at HOME, won her a second nomination as Tutor of the Year in the BBC Alba Scots Trad awards. In early April 2020 Hair coordinated the move of the Edinburgh International Harp Festival online, giving harpists around the world another way to engage in concerts and workshops, earning the Festival a further nomination as Event of the Year at the BBC Alba Scots Trad awards. Hair, who grew up in the Highlands, normally divides her time between Glasgow and the bewitching Isle of Man where she is exploring the music particular to the island. In the words of an Irish Music Today review of her newest album, SPARKS (with guitarist Ron Jappy) “Rachel helped to establish a modern harp sound with her trio line-up, but on her fifth album she’s gone back to her roots, back to basics, back to the music she most loves to play. Together with guitarist Ron Jappy, Rachel presents traditional tunes from Scotland, Ireland, and the Isle of Man, that mysterious land of mermaids, Manx cats and millionaires.” We're catching her 'live' on-site this year thanks to her US touring schedule.
Presenter website: Rachel Hair
From her expressive renderings of airs to dynamic dance tunes, Grainne Hambly demonstrates ‘absolute mastery of the Irish harp’. Her accompaniments while firmly traditional, incorporate and celebrate contemporary rhythms with dexterity and flawless taste. Popular worldwide, Grainne has three solo CDs, two music books and a collaborative CD with William Jackson. Over the past year Gráinne has developed a popular online programme of workshops as well as participating in many online performances. With a master's degree from Queens University in Belfast and years of workshop experience, her teaching skills match her playing; she is patient, clear, and sharp-eyed. She teaches at most of the major summer schools in Ireland and is in much demand here when she's on tour. She was also on staff at You Gotta Have Harp's Harpers' Escape Weekend for 16 years. This year we're glad to have her here in person. She will be teaching at Somerset’s Sunday Harper’s Escape program from her home in County Mayo, Ireland later in September. For the advancing student, eager to take on challenges, (warning: she makes it look easy!) Gráinne is a great choice. We're glad to be able to host Grainne on-site this year and see her in-person!
Presenter website: Gráinne Hambly
It's always great to have Deborah Henson-Conant on our faculty to challenge you to boldly go where no harper has gone before. Since one reviewer called her the ‘wild woman of the harp,’ Deborah describes herself as being "cross-genre: jazz-pop-comedy-blues-flamenco-celtic.” During her impressive career which includes a CD that was nominated for a Grammy, Deborah has brought the harp out of the demure background and into the electric limelight! Mixing music and theatre Deborah performs solo or with a symphony with equal ease. When orchestrating her own music, she often engages symphonic musicians in unexpected ways. Writes another reviewer “her life, her shows, her instrument, her workshops, and her music are all about transformation.” We're glad to finally see her in-person and take her workshops 'live'!
Presenter website: Deborah Henson-Conant
Although Nancy Hurrell is proficient in a wide variety of musical genres from classical and popular, to Celtic and early music, it is her expertise and devotion to preserving older harps that is a distinguishing feature of her impressive career. She is a recognized world authority on the Egan Irish harp and her book, The Egan Irish Harps, has been widely acclaimed both here and in Ireland. She has published articles in History Ireland and Irish Arts Review magazines. She performs in several Boston early music ensembles and recently played medieval harp in Hildegard’s 12th century play, Ordo Virtutum. Her CD Balletto, features early dance music, and a new ensemble recording is Turlough O’Carolan-A Life in Song. Nancy has 7 books of arrangements, including her Historical Harp Collections of early music. Take advantage of her expertise while you're here at Somerset. We've asked her to reprise the fun Renaissance Ball she led for us a number of years ago, to celebrate our being in-person again in Parsippany.
Presenter website: Nancy Hurrell
Simply listing William Jackson’s achievements, as musician, performer and composer can’t come close to capturing the brilliant spirit, musical intelligence, dry wit, and sympathy that he brings to every instrument he plays, piece he composes and class he teaches. Although the harp is his primary instrument, Billy’s knowledge and experience allows him to move comfortably from the bouzouki to the tin whistle. In 1976 he was a founding member of Ossian, a breakthrough Scottish band. His richly woven and bold compositions, The Wellpark Suite, St. Mungo, Inchcolm, and A Scottish Island, reveal him as a master of orchestration with a sensitivity to contemporary tastes and the traditional idiom. His most recent composition (2020) is an as yet untitled suite celebrating the connections between Ireland and Scotland over the years. Now living in Ireland, Jackson and Grainne Hambly have been hosting concerts from their home in County Mayo. His CD with Grainne Hambly debuted at Somerset in 2009. Besides many CDs he also has one book, Scottish Traditional Music, complementary to the CD The Ancient Harp of Scotland. He was on staff at You Gotta Have Harp's Harpers' Escape Weekend for eight years and this year is leading our Harpers' Escape at Somserset on Sunday. In 2016 Jackson was recognized with Somerset's Lifetime Achievement Award. We're happy to have Billy on-site in-person this year.
Presenter website: William Jackson
Liza Jensen has studied harp maintenance and mechanics privately under the tutelage of master harp builders Pat Dougal and John Pratt. She has worked out in California with Triplett Harps and is a warranty repair service for their company. She is the only American woman to be invited by Jakez Francois, president of Camac Harps, the most innovative harp manufacturer in the world, to become a warranty repair service for their company. When she's not working in her studio in New York City, Liza is globetrotting on her harp maintenance missions and has been all over the world. Since we'll have her on-site and in-person (yay!) you'll have the option to bring your harp to her for regulation and minor repairs. To schedule your harp regulation/repair with Liza on-site, click here to sign-up.
Presenter website: Liza Jensen
Dynamic and versatile, Tristan Le Govic returns to our online Somerset faculty to regale us with the music of his native Brittany. Tristan began playing Celtic harp at six, first near home and then further afield in Ireland and Scotland where he has often appeared playing in duos and trios with other harpers. In concert Tristan captivates through a combination of his playing style, strong rhythm, singing, and rapport with fellow musicians on stage. He is just as comfortable on an acoustic harp as on an electric, especially when playing with his trio. He can sound ultra-traditional with his Breton renditions or just as easily swing into rhythmic jazz improvisations. He has numerous CDs to his credit, featuring his own compositions as well as Breton to Scandinavian music. Tristan has published a number of music collections, including, The Breton Harp Anthology, a unique collection of three music books featuring the best harpists in Brittany. He is featured in Alain Gallet's 2003 documentary, Le Renouveau de la Harpe Celtique en Bretagne ("The Celtic Harp Revival in Brittany").
Presenter website: Tristan LeGovic
Tristan will be appearing during our July 30-31 second weekend. His workshop topics to be announced.
Karen Loomis is Assistant Director of the Historical Harp Society of Ireland, and is a specialist in musical instrument research, with expertise in the historical harps of Ireland and Scotland. She is dedicated to helping harp builders and musicians rediscover the sound world of the historical wire-strung harps of Ireland and Scotland, using modern technology to unlock the secrets of the surviving instruments. Karen has conducted groundbreaking studies of the Queen Mary and Lamont harps of the National Museum of Scotland, and led a project funded by the Arts Council of Ireland to study the 18th-century Hollybrook harp at the National Museum of Ireland, for the Historical Harp Society of Ireland. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and passion for these harps at workshops, and is a teacher and administrator for Acadamh na gCláirseach–Academy of Early Irish Harp.
Presenter website: Karen Loomis
John Metras is the quintessential public school music teacher who by need must be a multi-instrumentalist and yet he has distinguished himself by being professionally accomplished on any instrument he picks up, including harp! He graduated as a guitar major from University of San Francisco, took an M.A. in Music Education from Holy Names University and has a teaching credential from San Francisco State University along with National Board Certification for Elementary band. He has performed extensively on the guitar, accordion, piano and harp does early music, pop, jazz, show tunes and big band music. He is the principal guitarist in the Gravenstein Mandolin Ensemble and has written well over a dozen arrangements for mandolin orchestra. He won first place in the Lyon and Healy International Pop and Jazz Harpfest in Salt Lake City in the non-pedal harp division in 2004, playing his set on the cross-strung harp. He has promoted the cross-strung harp nationwide and has written numerous books of arrangements including 3 books of classical music for the cross-strung harp and a method for the cross-strung harp. His 2007 CD Paths Crossing is performed entirely on the cross-strung harp. His Guitar Transitions, a 2015 recording of popular music, is performed on the classical guitar. We've asked John to give us a few more videos on cross-strung harp for our video collection. Enjoy!
Presenter website: John Metras
Dr. Jen Narkevicius teaches and performs in the Washington DC area. Her innovative teaching mixes techniques based on her experience educating gifted and talented students, along with her full career in human factors and ergonomics. For nearly 15 years she has worked with harpers, fiddlers, bagpipers, guitarists, pianists, bass recorder players and others, to prevent injuries and to help them play efficiently and effectively. Jen is a founding member and Secretary of the National Standards Board for Music Ergonomics. She is Co-Director of Harp Quest and an instructor at the Ohio Scottish Arts School. Jen is the Competition Committee Chair and SHSA judge. She blogs weekly on topics that range from traveling with a harp to fulfilling musicians’ promise through ongoing training and self-care.
Presenter website: Jenius Creations
Cuban born Alfredo Rolando Ortiz is one the leading performers of the Paraguayan harp and has a multi-cultural repertoire which covers the folk, classical and popular music of many countries, in addition to his own compositions. He began playing the Venezuelan folk harp at 15, four years after his family emigrated there, a few months later began playing the Paraguayan harp and he eventually used music to support his medical studies. Dr. Ortiz also has a background in music therapy and sensory motor integration, which he draws on in his body/harp workshops. His compositions and publications are used in many schools and by many harp ensembles around the world. In 2008, he was commissioned by the Tenth World Harp Congress to compose a piece, which was then performed by 232 harpists at the Congress. When not performing with symphonies and orchestras, doing concerts or recording, Dr. Ortiz is traveling and doing lectures and master classes. In 2011, in honor of his 50 years of contributions to the harp community, Alfredo was awarded the very first Lifetime Achievement Award by the Somerset Folk Harp Festival.
Presenter website: Alfredo Rolando Ortiz
Christa Patton, originally a classically trained oboist, was always drawn to the ancient sound of double reeds. While her brother was collecting recordings of classic rock, Christa was searching for LPs of crumhorns and shawms. A late bloomer as a harpist, Christa was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study the Baroque harp with Mara Galassi in Milan, Italy just as she was turning 40. She is a noted historical harpist and early wind specialist who has performed with many of today’s premier early music ensembles including Piffaro the Renaissance Band, Early Music New York, Boston Camerata, The King’s Noyse, Folger Consort, Newberry Consort, Apollo’s Fire, Parthenia, ARTEK and Chatham Baroque. Since one of her specialties is 17th century opera on Baroque harps, Christa has performed with New York City Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Opera Atelier and the Opera Theater of Saint Louis. She is musical director of the Baroque Opera Workshop at Queens College, focusing on the works of early 17th century composers. Christa has been on the faculty of Rutgers University as well as the Madison Early Music Festival, Amherst Early Music Festival and Pinewoods Early Music Week, among others. She is a past president of the Historical Harp Society. She has toured throughout the Americas, Europe, and Japan. She presented as part of the Historical Harp Society's Conference held here at Somerset in 2019. We're so glad she can make it to our on-site festival this year and you'll finally be able to meet her in-person.
Presenter website: Christa Patton
Mary Radspinner began harp studies with Jeanne Henderson in the Milwaukee Public Schools. She later taught public school music herself before moving to Houston where she freelanced and subbed with the Houston Symphony and Ballet orchestras. Mary has served as regional director of the American Harp Society, president of the Scottish Harp Society and the ISFHC (International Society of Folk Harpers & Craftsmen), and an editor-in-chief of the Folk Harp Journal. She is familiarly known for running Afghan Press and Melody's Traditional Music in Houston, which she co-owns with her husband John Gill. Afghan Press Music for the Harp represents a wide range of arrangers and composers from the 20th and 21st centuries.
Presenter website: Afghan Press
As one of the pioneers of the American folk harp, Kim Robertson’s style and approach to the instrument is uniquely personal and original. Trained classically on piano and orchestral harp, she brings a contemporary touch to both her original compositions and her arrangements of Celtic music. Her skill and stage presence as a performer has brought her a loyal following and she is an experienced and sensitive teacher as well. She has many CDs, among them Highland Heart, Shady Grove and Shall We Gather as well as numerous volumes of harp arrangements and several instructional videos. Though she makes her home in Wisconsin, she spends a good deal of the year touring both as a solo artist and with other performers. Kim has presented and performed at nearly every Somerset festival, and with good reason! She's got a clear style and can get everybody, seemingly effortlessly, working together and learning with humor and grace. No matter what the topic, her workshops are packed (this year we'll have to spread out!). Kim received our Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019. She'll be here in-person in Parsippay. Welcome back, Kim.
Presenter website: Kim Robertson
We are happy to welcome West Coast multi-instrumentalist Verlene Schermer to Somerset this year. You will love her diverse, upbeat style of music that leans toward contemporary jazz and blues. With 11 albums and over 25 harp music books to her name, Verlene will guide you through techniques to inspire your own playing, performing, and composing. She often performs on her double-strung harp at various hospitals and is a mentor in the Harps for Healing Clinical Musician Certification Program. Verlene performs on harp, nyckelharpa, and vocals in a duo with Neal Hellman on mountain dulcimer; on harp, guitar, harp-guitar, and vocals with a duo called Silverwood. She's in her self-named Verlene Schermer band with Linnette Bommarito on flutes. She is a founding member of a Scandinavian trio called "Nykken". She currently performs on harp, guitar, harp-guitar, and vocals in Silverwood with Linnette Bommarito on flutes. She brings a variety of her instrumental talents to her latest group, called Gaelic Muses. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, she also plays tenor banjo, violin, and sings in her newest New Orleans style jazz band called Parlez-vous Jazz.
Presenter website: Verlene Schermer / Karmalu Productions
Versatility and a willingness to explore—different musical genres, different types of harps and different settings in which to play, characterize Sunita Staneslow’s career. At eight Sunita was already deeply interested in music, playing flute, harp and piano. The next twenty years were spent studying mostly classical music, with such eminent harpists as Lucile Lawrence, Lily Laskine, and Judith Liber. While living in Jerusalem during the mid-'80's, Sunita began arranging various styles of Jewish music for the harp. More recently she has been working as a therapeutic musician in a children's hospital near Tel Aviv. She has participated in two studies to measure the effect of music on premature babies. Sunita has played under the baton of conductors such as Phillipe Brunelle and Claudio Abbado but her passion is traditional music. With more than a dozen recordings to choose from and many books of arrangements from classical, sacred, Celtic and Jewish music, Sunita has something to offer to every aspiring harper.
Presenter website: Sunita Staneslow
Dr. Dennis Waring is passionate about all kinds of music and ethnic cultures, from all over the world. Armed with a PhD from Wesleyan University, he's an educator, ethnomusicologist, author, instrument maker, collector, performer, and arts consultant. His World Music Teacher Institutes often take him from coast to coast and he has taken two four-month journeys around the world as shipboard ethnomusicologist with the University of Virginia’s Semester At Sea program. His multi-instrumental proclivities gives him a musical range that includes classical, folk, jazz, and ethnic idioms. That wide-ranging musical passion led him to create Waring Music to provide access to a broad spectrum of musical and multicultural resources to the general public as well as educational institutions. We welcome Dennis back as a vendor as well as a presenter with his ever-popular Build-a-Harp workshop, in which he assists interested participants in building their own harps right at the festival.
Presenter website: Dennis Waring