Versatility and a willingness to explore—different musical genres, different types of harps and different settings in which to play, characterize Sunita’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
Tokyo-born Tomoko Sugawara began playing Irish harp when she was 12 and graduated from the Tokyo University of Fine Arts with concert harp as her main instrument. And in one of those wonderful life's moments that can change the musical path one is on, she discovered the ancient angular harp, called the kugo, and began her quest to revive the instrument. In 2007 The Asian Cultural Council gave her a grant to research it in New York. She plays a modern rendition of the instrument, which disappeared from the music world more than 300 years ago. She has played the kugo at major international venues, such as the World Harp Congress (in Prague and Amsterdam), Columbia, Harvard, and Princeton Universities, as well as The British Museum. She has two solo CDs of concert harp and the first ever recording of the kugo "Along the Silk Road".
Presenter website: Kugo Harp
Carol Thompson began playing classical harp at age 13, but other genres soon spoke to her. Although better known for playing Irish music, a lifelong interest in medieval and renaissance history also led her to Early Music. She has been a long time performer with the Moravian College Collegium Musicum, and a guest artist with the Baltimore Consort. She taught Irish harp at the Augusta Heritage Workshops for many years and has five solo CDs to her credit. Active as a side musician, she played with Paul Winter on his Grammy-winning CD Celtic Solstice. Carol teaches privately in her Frenchtown NJ studio. She and Debbie Brewin-Wilson collaborated on the programming for our first Beginners Boot Camp on Thursday. In addition to teaching her workshops at Somerset this year, she also has a table from which she’ll sell her handcrafted jewelry.
Sharon started playing folk music in the 60s by teaching herself guitar. She played in bands that did a variety of music and toured the Northwest in the 1980s with a band called the Swing Beans. Even after she had her first baby she continued to tour, write songs and put out albums with her husband Dave. Dave began building harps in the early 80s (even before he and Sharon met) and in 1992, with their new baby, they attended the San Diego International Society of Folk Harpers and Craftsman conference in 1992. Sharon started playing harp in 1996, completed her CMP for the Music for Healing and Transition Program (MHTP) in 2002 and by now has 16 music books to her credit, including Tis the Season, a collection of popular Christmas tunes, and Shalom, a collection of Jewish tunes. Her newest book is a collaboration with Nicolas Carter called Melodias del Arpa.Of course, she works at Thormahlen Harps, which for a harp player must be like being a kid in a candy store! You'll mostly find Sharon in the Exhibit Hall in the Thormahlen booth this weekend, but check out her workshop.
Presenter website: Thormahlen Harps
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: Waring Music