April  2017           JULY 20-23 at the Sheraton Parsippany
Harp pioneer Laurie Riley has been there, done that!

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

New Faces & Old Friends
Ellen Tepper began playing harp at 8 and said she spent years as a “musical singleton.”  She never knew that she “had been starved for ensemble playing” until an Irish music session many years later. In teaching and performing she was drawn to creating arrangements to help her students. She began using rounds to reinforce counting and playing with each other and created her new book of rounds, which she’ll debut at Somerset in her Rounds in the Round on Thursday. About Somerset she says, “I always look forward to rooms filled with harps and players, all of us hungry for new material, technique and personal and professional connections.I wish this had been available when I was beginning!”  Me too!
Alfredo Rolando Ortiz and his lovely wife Luzma have been “regulars” at the festival since its inception! Alfredo was recognized with our very first Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011, marking then his 50 years of harping. If it’s a Latin rhythm workout you’re needing, take Alfredo’s new Cuban Rhythms & Spice or Latin music techniques & fun effects. On your request we’re offering his very popular and essential Prevent Injury twice so you can fit it in your schedule. When he’s not doing workshops, you’ll find Alfredo in the Silverlight booth in the Exhibit Hall with  Luzma and her amazing jewelry. Stop in and say hello. They just celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. F eliz aniversario!
Deborah Henson-Conant’s Somerset Warm-Up Rally REPLAY
There was a big turnout for Deborah’s free webinar preview of the Improv Expansion on March 26. This hands-on playalong gave everybody solid tips and tricks they could put to use immediately in their playing. And of course, I loved DHC’s overview of some of the great presenters and workshops we’re having this summer.  If you couldn’t be there, you can catch it on the replay at any time, right in the comfort of your own home. Click here to get the replay page.
This month’s concert video spotlight

Check out the Concerts page for who’s playing and when. Bigger hall this year so there will likely be tickets for the general public. Now, enjoyTristan LeGovic’s performance in 2016. See some of our staff and presenters singing the chorus in French and doing a Breton line dance that eventually disintegrates into a Rockettes-style kickline all to Tristan’s impeccable playing and singing. Hilarious.  Click on the image to play.

Collection box at Somerset for the Guatemalan Teaching Project
The Guatemalan Harp Teaching Project is a harp teaching program for students in Guatemala City, supported by the New Orleans Chapter of the American Harp Society. Thousands of dollars of harp supplies have been donated by harpists all over the world since 2003. We had a collection drive for them at our 2013 festival and we’re going to do it again! Patrice Fisher, who is the energy behind this project, credited Dusty Strings with donating more than 1000 strings so they don’t need strings this time. She says, “We need music, tuners, stands, and levers, (especially levers).” We’ll have a collection box at the festival desk. If you’re culling your sheet music collection, bring what you don’t need anymore to the festival to donate. If you upgraded your tuner, bring your old one!  You can read all about the program on their GoFundMe page.
No-Cost Loaner Harps Deadline
I’m so appreciative of everybody who gets on a plane or train to get to the festival that I guarantee you a no-cost loaner harp but only if you register by the early-bird deadline of May 1. Besides my own personal stash of harps, my staff and lots of others coming to the festival share their spares with the temporarily harpless. Some of our vendors also stock our harp pool. If not wanting to put your harp on a plane was your reason for not coming to Somerset, I just took away that reason!
Before the Festival:
Hambly & Jackson Spring Tour
Grainne Hambly and William Jackson  will be in the US for their Spring tour, which kicks off April 8. They’re traveling up and down the Mid-Atlantic states from MD to MA so check out their tour page to see if they’re near you!
They’ll also be teaching and performing at the festival too. Do a full day with them in our new  Harpers’ Escape at Somerset on Sunday, an add-on to your festival registration for only $100 more. That saves $50 if you do it by the early-bird deadline of May 1.
Find out why the Escape motto is “Harp Till You Drop.”
Our Phone App Released
If you’re one of the early-birds who has already registered for the festival, you got a special invitation from me on March 29 to download our phone app. Go do it! It’s a great tool for creating your personal Somerset itinerary. New registrants will get instructions for getting the phone app in their registration confirmation. The app is limited to the first 200 users to download it!
Here’s feedback I got from Tracy: ” Got my Guidebook schedule, and started adding things to my schedule!  So exciting! This Guidebook app is very handy.  I’m so glad you found it. Makes my life easy.”
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