A Classical Instrument That Still Knows How to Rock

The Midwest Harp Festival features four concerts open to the public in July.

By: Deanna Rebro | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: July 2016

Harpists take a break from practicing for the Midwest Harp Festival.

Harpists take a break from practicing for the Midwest Harp Festival.

Since Ancient Egypt, the harp has played a significant role in all genres of music including Celtic, Classical, Bluegrass, Country, Rock/Pop, Show Tunes, Vocals, Jazz and even Heavy Metal.
The 2016 Midwest Harp Festival celebrates this versatile instrument and brings together 35 of the best performers in the region.  The week-long festival, running July 17-23, features four public concerts. Lorelei Kaiser Barton, creator and director of the festival, has watched the event grow from several harpists playing in her home in 1998 to a highly respected and anticipated event that draws professionals, students and music lovers to the University of Tulsa Lorton Performing Arts Center.
“The Harp Festival is true immersion into the spirit of the harp,” says Lorelei.  
Harpists ages nine and up at various skill levels will have the opportunity to participate in workshops, harp ensembles and competitions.  
Featured artists for this year’s festival are: Mary Bircher of the Omaha Symphony, Faye Seeman, Professor of Music at Wheaton College and Northern Illinois University; Elizabeth Richter, Professor of Music at Ball State University; Linda Paul, local professional pop/jazz harpist and festival adjunct instructor, and the Felice Pomeranz Jazz Quartet.  Ms. Pomeranz is Associate Professor of Harp at Berklee College of Music in Boston and a faculty member of The Boston Conservatory. For the first time within the solo competition, the festival will include the Salzedo Competition, sponsored by Suzann Davids.
On Monday, July 18 at 7:30 p.m. in the Gussman Auditorium, the opening faculty concert will feature the festival’s harp faculty. There is no charge, but donations are appreciated.
Tuesday, July 19 at 7:30 p.m. is the Solo Competition Winners Recital in the Meinig   Recital Hall. The competition, held earlier in the day, is broken down by skill levels in five divisions. This is also open to the public.
The Felice Pomeranz Jazz Quartet will perform on Thursday, July 21 at 7:30 p.m. in the Gussman Auditorium. Ms. Pomeranz and  Director of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute, sax player Marco Pignataro join with Tulsa’s jazz rhythm players, bassist Jim Bates and drummer Tony Yohe. Admission is $7.00 for adults.  Seniors 65 and up and children 5 and under are $5.00.
The final show will be Saturday, July 23 at 11:00 a.m. in the Gussman Auditorium.  This combined harp ensemble concert will feature over 40 harps on stage playing both recognizable and new music in ensemble format. There is no charge for the performance, but donations are welcome to support  future harp festivals and provide scholarships for promising students.
“Our faculty is highly regarded,” says Lorelei. “We want to show harpists of all experience levels what is possible through practice.”
The Adjunct Professor of Harp at the University of Tulsa, Oral Roberts University, Tulsa Community College and the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville is also the principal harpist with the Signature Symphony at Tulsa Community College, VanTrease Performing Arts Center on the Southeast Campus.
 Major sponsors for the 2016 Midwest Harp Festival include the Lou and Connie Miller Charitable Foundation, the Frank Family Foundation, the Tulsa Community Foundation and the Hyechka Club of Tulsa.  

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About Author Deanna Rebro

Deanna Rebro has worked in the publishing industry 30+ years, including eight years writing for Value News. She has also worked in real estate for the past six years. Deanna graduated from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio with a B.A. in Journalism. Outside of work, she serves as Vice President on the Board of Directors for Pet Adoption League. “Every story I write is a learning experience,” she said.

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