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June 28, 2014

Passion for the harp still resonates with students and mentors

NORMAN — Five students will showcase their talents and musical interests during Monday’s conclusion of the University of Oklahoma Summer Harp Workshop.

Gaye LeBlanc, visiting assistant harp professor at OU since 1998, said the workshop is an opportunity to bring harpists together to gain experience and exercise their talents.

“They get inspired, and we get inspired,” LeBlanc said. “It’s contagious.”

Students from the Oklahoma, Texas, and Colorado, area are rehearsing in preparation for the concert that wraps up the workshop on Monday. The final concert will feature three ensemble pieces as well as student solos played on the harp and will be at 2 p.m. Monday at Pitman Hall, Catlett Music Center. The concert is free and open to the public.

With master classes and ensemble rehearsals underway, the students have worked with LeBlanc as well as two other clinicians.

LeBlanc has been principle harpist with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic since 1996, among other symphonies across the country. LeBlanc teaches harp, harp ensemble, harp orchestral literature, harp pedagogy and understanding music at OU.

The two guest clinicians include Rachel Starr Ellins, assistant professor of harp at Colorado State University and director of the CSU harp ensemble, and Julie Smith Phillips, principal harpist of the San Diego Symphony and associate faculty of harp at Arizona State University’s School of Music.

“I’m excited to be a part of their learning development, with and without the harp,” Phillips said.

Phillips said it can be easy and difficult to get fellow harpists together.

“We’re few and far between,” she said.

But because of the uniqueness of the instrument, gathering students who share a passion for the harp and for music becomes that much more important, she said.

“Music is so important in every way of life, education and learning. The more we can cultivate the talents and interests of students, the more it helps everybody,” Phillips said.

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