Sally Maxwell



Coming from a family of musicians, it was natural that Sally Maxwell, harpist and teacher, became a member of the American Harp Society from its beginning. Her mother, Doris Helen Calkins was an outstanding harpist who started the first harp class at the University of Oregon in 1935. 

Sally Maxwell began studies of the harp under her mother. As a child, she particularly loved playing her small Clark Irish harp as a young member of the university harp ensemble. As she grew, she played harp at her school and often played as a duo with her mother at churches and musical events.

She later studied with Mildred Dilling, Marcel Grandjany and as a student, she spent a year in Paris, France where she was able to study with the famous harpist and teacher, Henriette Renié.  As a student of the University of Oregon in her Junior Year, she returned to Oregon.

After marriage, she taught students in Portland, OR and played with the Portland Opera as well as playing for Broadway Musicals orchestras, etc. With her family, she spent two years in the San Diego area, playing in local orchestras, musicals and concerts while her husband Winston Maxwell was assigned as a doctor during the Vietnam War.

Sally returned to Eugene where she began a twenty year teaching career at the University of Oregon while continuing her performing career at the Eugene Symphony and orchestras throughout Oregon.  She assumed leadership roles in the American Harp Society from its earliest days, serving as Northwest Regional Director, as a member of the AHS Board of Directors, on the Board of Readers for the AH Journal, and Chairman of the Harp Literature committee.  She also served as Vice President of the AHS prior to serving as President from 1986-1988 and again from 1994-1998.

As many people know, her mother Doris Calkins made it possible for the “Ruth Lorraine Close Awards” to be given to three young harpists annually/nationally through the American Harp Society and the University of Oregon. Sally organized this competition each year. When those awards were no longer possible, she worked with Burton Adams to create and continue the “Anne Adams Awards”.

Sally currently serves as President of the AHS Foundation, a separate non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to support the educational activities of the AHS.  The Foundation manages donations from harp-loving benefactors who may invest in specific programs or scholarship awards guaranteeing the continuance of such programs in perpetuity. 

Continuing the family tradition, both of Sally’s children are musicians.  In addition to their “day jobs” as Physician Assistant and Attorney, Sally’s children Martha and Winston (Jamie) continue to perform regularly as harpist and violinist.