Now in its 20th season, the Young Artist’s Harp Seminar (YAHS) arrives in Maryland’s Eastern Shore this summer. Over 50 of the world’s top young harpists will take up residence at Washington College in June and July for two weeks of intensive study, coaching sessions with renowned instructors, and concert performances open to the public.
The festivities open with the 8th Young Artist’s Harp Competition, a biennial event that has previously drawn competitors from as far away as Korea, China, Singapore, Taiwan, and Europe to vie for a top prize of $1,000. The competition, which takes place June 21st to 25th, is open to harpists up to age 19 in three age divisions. A concert on June 25th will showcase winners and is open to the public.
Following the competition, harpists will embark on a two-week course of study with renowned YAHS faculty. A training ground for elite artists, many YAHS alumni have continued on to attend top schools and conservatories such as Juilliard, the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Curtis Institute of Music, the Jacobs School of Music at I.U., the Paris Conservatory, and many others. YAHS alumni have also claimed top prizes at major international competitions
like France’s prestigious Concours de Harpe Lily Laskine and the 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. Held previously in Georgia and Ohio, YAHS is excited to join the passionate culture of music in Chestertown, Maryland.
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,” they say, “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.