Now in its 21st season, the Young Artist’s Harp Seminar (YAHS) returns to Maryland’s Eastern Shore this July. Over 50 of the world’s top young harpists will reside at Washington College for two weeks of intensive study, coaching sessions with renowned instructors, and concert performances open to the public.
The festivities open on July 10 at Chestertown’s Emmanuel Episcopal Church with a chamber music concert featuring Nancy Allen, principal harpist of the New York Philharmonic, and chair of the harp department at The Juilliard School.
Harpists coming from California, to Canada, to Costa Rica, and everywhere in between, will embark on a two-week course of study with renowned YAHS faculty. A training ground for elite artists, many YAHS alumni have subsequently attended top schools and conservatories, such as The Juilliard School, the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Curtis Institute of Music, the Paris Conservatory, and many others. YAHS alumni have also claimed top prizes at major international competitions, including France’s prestigious Concours de Harpe Lily Laskine and Japan’s Nippon Harp Competition.
Throughout their two weeks at YAHS, harpists have opportunities to practice performing on stage, in masterclasses, and in a series of simulated orchestral auditions.
Susan Bennett Brady (Principal Harpist with the Atlanta Opera Orchestra) and Kimberly Rowe (editor of Harp Column magazine) founded the YAHS program in 2002 as a way to give young harpists ages 12–26 an intense performance and practice environment with top instruction. In 2008, they launched the international Young Artist’s Harp Competition, and in 2014, the auxiliary one-week YAHS Prep program debuted for harpists ages 8–17. The YAHS is excited to return to Chestertown to join the passionate culture of music on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
Concert-goers will have many opportunities to hear the young harpists—along with faculty and special guests—in action this summer at a series of concert events open to the public.
Most YAHS students are serious about the harp, and many have plans to pursue it as a career path. Some students, however, don’t see a professional harp career in their future, and for Rowe and Brady that’s fine: “Our number one goal is simply to impart a love for music and for the harp.” They are confident the students’ experiences at YAHS will help them meet their goals, whatever they may be.