YOLANDA KONDONASSIS, Harpist
Yolanda Kondonassis is celebrated as one of the world’s premiere solo harpists and is widely regarded as today’s most recorded classical harpist. Hailed as “an extraordinary virtuosa” and “sheer luminescence at the harp,” she has performed around the globe as a concerto soloist and in recital, bringing her unique brand of musicianship and warm artistry to an ever-increasing audience.
Since making her debut at age 18 with the New York Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta, Ms. Kondonassis has appeared as soloist with numerous major orchestras in the United States and abroad such as The Cleveland Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Houston Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Dallas Symphony, New York Chamber Symphony, Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfonica de Puerto Rico, Phoenix Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, New World Symphony, and Florida Orchestra, to name a few. Other solo appearances include engagements at Lincoln Center, the 92nd Street Y and Taiwan’s National Concert Hall.
Her fifteenth album on the Telarc label was recently released, featuring the world premiere recording of Bright Sheng’s Never Far Away: Concerto for Harp and Orchestra, written for and premiered by Ms. Kondonassis. With well over 100,000 albums sold worldwide, her recordings have earned universal critical praise as she continues to be a pioneering force in the harp world, striving to make her instrument more accessible to audiences and to push the boundaries of what listeners expect of the harp. “Certainly, the harp can be heavenly – and should be at times – but that’s only the tip of the iceburg when it comes to this incredible instrument,” Ms. Kondonassis said in a recent interview.
Ms. Kondonassis’ extensive discography includes her recent Grammy-nominated release of music by Takemitsu and Debussy entitled Air, as well as Salzedo’s Harp, Debussy’s Harp, The Romantic Harp, her own (and the first-ever) harp transcription of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons with the Orchestra of Flanders, an all-Hovhaness album (featuring the world premiere recording of his Spirit of Trees) Quietude, A New Baroque, Pictures of the Floating World, Dream Season, Sky Music, and her debut album, Scintillation. Her recording of Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp, with flutist Renée Krimsier and the English Chamber Orchestra, was released on the Channel Classics label.
Chamber music is a passion for Ms. Kondonassis and she enjoys every opportunity to indulge, including a recent tour of New Zealand with the Still/Chase/Kondonassis Trio and frequent appearances on chamber music series throughout the United States. She has appeared at numerous festivals such as the Marlboro, Spoleto, Tanglewood, Vail, Bay Chamber, Strings in the Mountains, Innsbrook, Great Lakes, and Mainly Mozart Festivals and has collaborated with members of the Alban Berg, Guarneri, Shanghai, Rossetti, Biava, and Vermeer string quartets.
As an author, composer, and arranger, Ms. Kondonassis has published three books to date: On Playing the Harp, a comprehensive guide to harp technique and methodology that has quickly become a standard in the harp pedagogy literature, The Yolanda Kondonassis Collection, a compilation of her many original transcriptions, arrangements and compositions for the harp, and The Yolanda Kondonassis Christmas Collection, featuring Ms. Kondonassis’ most popular arrangements from her acclaimed disc, Dream Season: The Christmas Harp. All of Ms. Kondonassis’ works are published by Carl Fischer Music.
Her long list of national and international honors includes top prizes in the Affiliate Artists National Auditions in New York and the Maria Korchinska International Harp Competition in Great Britain. The first harpist to receive the Darius Milhaud Prize, she is committed to the advancement of contemporary music through both the performance and commissioning of new works for the harp. The recipient of two Solo Recitalists Grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Ms. Kondonassis has been featured on CNN and PBS television as well as National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, St. Paul Sunday Morning, and Performance Today. In addition to her active performing and recording schedule, Ms. Kondonassis heads the harp departments at The Cleveland Institute of Music and Oberlin College Conservatory, and has presented master classes around the world.
Ms. Kondonassis carries her passionate artistic commitment to issues regarding the protection of natural resources, air quality, and climate change. Royalties from several of her projects are donated to earth causes and she is the founder and director of Earth at Heart, a non-profit organization devoted to earth literacy and inspiration through the arts. Her first children’s book, entitled Our House is Round: A Kid’s Book About Why Protecting the Earth Matters was released on Earth Day, 2010.
Ms. Kondonassis was born in Norman, Oklahoma and attended high school at Interlochen Arts Academy. She continued her education at The Cleveland Institute of Music, where she received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees as a student of Alice Chalifoux. Yolanda Kondonassis plays a Lyon & Healy Salzedo Model harp.
For more information on Yolanda Kondonassis, visit: www.YolandaHarp.com
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