When Laurie Riley took up lever harp in 1981 there were very few musicians playing the instrument and very few harpmakers making folk harps. Laurie Riley is this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, recognized for her pioneering work in three facets of harp which we now take for granted.
We recognize her early and on-going work in ergonomics and harp. With her background in anatomy, she held the first-ever ergonomics class for harpers in 1987 and saw such dramatic positive effects that it became a major teaching focus for her, including her creation of a certification program for Music Ergonomists©.
By 1990 Laurie began looking for ways to augment what she wanted to do on harp and explored Welsh triple harp techniques but couldn’t get the sound she wanted. She met Liz Cifani (who sometimes played two harps at once) and they came up with the idea of two rows of strings with levers on each side to achieve the music they wanted to play. They approached Triplett and Stoney End to protoype it and the contemporary double-strung harp was born. It’s been her main instrument ever since and Laurie is recognized as being a leading player.
Harp music in a hospital was unheard of in 1991 when Laurie says she “became curious about the effects of music in medical settings” as she played for her own father in an ICU. This was the beginning of the nascent therapeutic harp movement. She was a co-founder of the Music for Healing and Transition Program in 1992 and a charter member of the National Standards Board for Therapeutic Music. In 2002, in recognition of the need for home study, Laurie created the Clinical Musicians’ Home Study Certification Course, now known as Harp for Healing. She continues to actively work in this field.
Please join us at the festival at Thursday night’s concert to hear Laurie perform and then be recognized for her achievements in the harp community. An reception in her honor will follow the concert.
Kathy DeAngelo, Festival Director