Senior School Student Performs at CMU’s Holiday Harp Ensemble
On Tuesday, December 10, 2019, sophomore Yidi (Sylvia) performed at Carnegie Mellon University’s (CMU) Holiday Harp Ensemble in the lobby of Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland.
The ensemble, conducted by Daniel Nesta, consisted of members of the Pittsburgh Symphony, CMU Harp Department, Pittsburgh Opera Orchestra, Pittsburgh Youth Orchestra, and Ringgold School Harpists – all members of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Harp Society. The 30 harpists performed holiday favorites including "Waltz of the Flowers" harp cadenza from Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker, "Green Sleeves," and "Sleigh Ride."
“My favorite piece is "Sleigh Ride," because it has an amazing effect on stage. There were people ringing sleigh bells, there were drums, and at the end of the piece, we all had to ‘neh’ like a horse. It was different from the rest of the pieces and definitely surprised the audience,” Sylvia recalled.
Sylvia, who has played the harp for three years, found the instrument easy to learn. “The harp uses the same music notations as the piano, so for me it is easier because I studied seven years of piano before I started playing the harp,” she explained. In addition to playing harp and piano, she also plays the guzheng, which is a traditional Chinese plucked string instrument.
To stay on top of her craft, she practices daily for at least one hour and puts in more time prior to a concert performance. Last school year, she performed in two harp recitals, and upon recommendation from her harp teacher, who is the president of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Harp Society (AHS), Sylvia participated in the AHS Auditions and Evaluations Program, as part of the organization’s membership process. She has been a member since October 2018.
Being a harpist is a priority for Sylvia, but she has other pursuits in mind upon graduation. “The harp is a big part of my life, and I will definitely learn to play in depth if I have the time and resources in college. However, harp would not be my major. Although, I would like to try playing in an orchestra,” she said.