Last June Katherine Siochi become the American Harp Society Concert Artist after winning first prize in the Young Professional Division of the AHS National Competition. We couldn’t be happier for Katherine, who attended YAHS from 2006–2010. We caught up with her to find out more about what she’s up to and how YAHS helped her get where she is today.
Did you ever think when you first came to YAHS in 2006 that you’d wind up as the AHS Concert Artist 10 years later?
Definitely not! I was a pretty timid 12-year-old without a lot of confidence. The following year when I went to the AHS institute I heard many different performances among various levels of AHS competitors, and I was in awe of everyone. I didn’t think I would ever be able to play like any of them.”
You’re also studying at Juilliard. Can you tell us a little about that?
A lot of people ask me this question and I feel like a broken record saying it again but it’s been such a positive experience for me, and not what I expected before I enrolled. Nancy Allen and my fellow harpist colleagues create such a kind, genuine, warm (yet also one that challenges) community of musicians. Outside of the harp studio, I feel very lucky to have opportunities to play and collaborate with musicians of a very high level, as well as work with excellent conductors.
You attended YAHS for four summers. Can you think of any experiences during that time that helped you achieve your goals?
YAHS taught me so many important skills that stayed with me. Through the variety of performance opportunities, classes, and activities, I learned the value of time management, being your own teacher during individual practice, gaining more confidence in public performances, and how to work in ensembles. The blind mock orchestra auditions were also really great preparations for other auditions I’ve taken since then.
Do you have any memories from YAHS that stay with you?
The ones that stay with me most are actually various moments of joy in friendships I developed while at YAHS! Being with other wonderful students with whom you share a lot in common, you grow very close over the course of the seminar. Some of my happiest memories from my summers are those from YAHS. For me the seminar really encouraged a positive atmosphere that seeped into the world of playing the harp, and that actually created a more productive musical environment.
The American Harp Society is a scholarship sponsor for YAHS, so we’re doubly proud that you’re representing them as their Concert Artist. Can you tell us a bit about what you’ll be doing in that role?
Over the next year and a half, different chapters invite me to come to their cities and give recitals and often with it masterclasses or lessons. I’m excited to be meeting harpists from all over the country and also seeing some new places!
Do you have any advice to give harp students who are where you were 10 years ago?
It can be difficult to navigate the fine line between self-confidence and self-importance. Over the past several years, listening to and admiring great musicians has been one of the main causes of fostering growth in my playing. No matter how good you become or how hard you work, there will always be someone with greater strengths or different strengths than you, which is actually liberating in a way! I look up to many wonderful musicians, including my peers at Juilliard, and they push me to improve my musicianship. I’m finding that learning how to handle oneself with grace and humility (which is something I am constantly working on) is an indispensable component to being a successful artist.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
It’s funny because this is similar to the first question–10 years ago I never would have thought that I would be studying at Juilliard. So really who knows. While it’s important to have goals, I think it’s equally important to be open to opportunities that maybe you wouldn’t have even thought of or considered.