Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Harp Ensemble plucks a chord

By Alison Haywood, A&E Reporter

While some Pacific Lutheran music ensembles are known worldwide, others are little known even to students here.

One such oft-overlooked, yet nonetheless talented group is the University Harp Ensemble. Founded in 2007, this group of five students comes together once a week to rehearse under the direction of Patricia Wooster, adjunct faculty member.

Wooster, who has been teaching at PLU since 1999, formed the Harp Ensemble in response to student demand.

“To be able to play with other harpists is really enjoyable for harpists because they all understand what the challenges are,” Wooster said.

Members of the Harp Ensemble performed Sunday in Lagerquist Hall with the Chapel Ringers Handbell Choir opening. Harpists performed afterwards in chamber ensembles which included various combinations of the organ, strings, flute and voice.

“We really didn’t have a harp ensemble performance tonight,” Wooster said. “We had all different types of chamber music.”

Harpist senior Tealah Hill stressed the importance of harpists having the opportunity to play with other musicians to gain career skills.

“So many harpists start just playing by themselves, all the time, they only play solo, because that’s the opportunity that they have,” Hill said, “so then they get here and it’s this whole new skill set that is alien to them.”

A harpist of 16 years, Hill said, although she had experienced performing with ensembles like this before, it was a big deal for some students.

Wooster is involved in the American Harp Society and World Harp Congress and is a former president of both organizations. Hill became acquainted with Wooster while Wooster was directing the South Sound Strings harp ensemble, which Hill joined.

“That’s really how I ended up at PLU,” Hill said. “I don’t think I would be here if she [Wooster] wasn’t here.”