What’s your favorite memory from a Prep summer?
Kristi I always enjoy the final concert the most. We get to show off how much everyone has learned during their time at Prep! It is so fun to watch the students perform together in ensemble and to be so proud of what they have accomplished. The atmosphere backstage is always so exciting as well —everyone is giving each other the energy and encouragement they need before performing their solos.
Tell us a little bit about your harp history.
Kristi I started the harp at a very young age, 2 and a half. My mom is a singer and once had a concert with a harpist and thought the harp would be a fun instrument for me to play. That harpist was my teacher for the next nine years! So, the harp and music have always been a part of my life—I don’t remember ever not playing the harp.
Katie I began studying piano at the age of 6 and began taking harp lessons on the Celtic harp at age 13. My harp ensemble as a teenager toured with Irish tenor Frank Paterson and performed in various venues such as NJPAC and Carnegie Hall. When I stepped onto the stage at Carnegie Hall circa 1996, I told my parents I would be back there someday to play again. I fondly remember this conversation each time I have returned to perform. I studied Harp Performance at the University of Delaware, received a Master’s degree in Harp from Mannes College of Music, and finally received a Master’s degree in Orchestral Performance from the Manhattan School of Music under the direction of Susan Jolles.
What is the best piece of technical advice you can give a student?
Kristi To enjoy the process of learning a piece. Give yourself the time to learn a piece by practicing slowly, with proper technique and fingering from the beginning. Build this solid foundation from the start so that you don’t develop bad habits or spend more time trying to unlearn something you have been doing incorrectly.
What’s the number one thing you want students to learn from you?
Katie I hope to see my students gain confidence in their playing and realize that they are all capable of learning anything if they put in the time and effort. Slow and thoughtful practice will allow you to play anything. Any technical issues can be overcome! You can train your fingers to do exactly what you want them to do by being patient in your practice.
What’s been your biggest career highlight?
Kristi I feel very lucky to have had some very surreal and thrilling performances throughout my career. Most recently, Duo Scorpio (my harp duo with fellow Prep Co-Director Katie Andrews) performed at the World Harp Congress in Hong Kong. It was such an amazing experience to travel across the world to premiere a piece that we had commissioned. We even survived a broken string in the middle of the performance!
What’s one thing you have yet to knock of your harp to-do list?
Katie The last few years I’ve had the privilege of performing and recording with some of the best jazz musicians in New York City. I’ve recorded two albums with Dan Weiss, Steve Newcomb, and most recently Matt Mitchell. I’ve performed with Kenneth Salters and will be performing with Matt Holman in February. I really love doing these shows and I’d love to record more jazz music in the future.
What are you most looking forward to about this summer?
Kristi I am most looking forward to seeing all of the harpists this summer, both new and returning students! Last year, we had a wonderful group that created a very encouraging, supportive and fun atmosphere. The friendships formed at YAHS really do last for years and keep us all connected in the harp community.