ORANGE COUNTY CHAPTER OF THE YEAR 2008-2009

What does it take to be Chapter of the Year 2008-2009?

by Michael Langham and Mindy Ball

What does it take to be Chapter of the Year 2008-2009?  Although this question could have many answers, what we can tell you is that our Chapter of the Year Award stems from the thoughts, dreams and hard work of harpists and harp lovers in Orange County seeking to start a new chapter in the Southern California area. The closest chapter to Orange County is the Los Angeles Chapter, and although LA isn’t all that far away, it can frequently take hours to get anywhere on our freeways.  Thus, this is where the roots of starting our chapter began.

Two years ago harpist, Alexandra Perdew, recognized the need for a chapter to help connect the harpists in Orange County and she planted the seed.  The chapter was formed and harpists Mindy Ball, Tomoko Sato, Donna Rickard and Kaffee Mimum were installed as president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer, respectively.  These chapter officers, under the leadership of Mindy Ball, began the American Harp Society Orange County Chapter in 2007 seeking to fulfill the mission statement of the American Harp Society:

A.  “cultivate, promote, foster, sponsor and develop among its members and the general public the appreciation of the harp as a musical instrument”
B.  “develop and further the quality of the instrument itself and of its related components”
C.  “encourage the composition of music for the harp”
D.  “improve the quality of performance by harpists”

The 2007-2008 year was a year full of excitement for all the members of the Orange County Chapter.  The officers looked at ways to try and implement the mission statement in as many events as possible for this infant chapter.  With this being our inaugural year, the officers and chapter were extremely grateful to Salvi Harps Inc. for the gracious support in using the faciltity for many chapter events.

Year two, 2008-2009 began with two events, cosponsored with Salvi Harps, Inc. which brought in Celtic harpist, Laura Zaerr in October to give a workshop and concert.  Celtic harpist, Kim Robertson arrived later in October to also give a workshop and concert.  Both Laura and Kim taught private lessons during their stay with us in Orange County. 

In October and November we held our Music Education Auditions.  This two section, noncompetitive opportunity for young harpists to expand their performance experience and learn from the master teachers is important if for no other reason than this IS our harp future.

In late October, the OC Chapter sponsored a bus for members and friends to travel to San Diego to hear the world premiere of Chinese-American composer, Bright Sheng’s harp concerto, Never Far Away.  Harpist Yolanda Kondonassis and the San Diego Symphony were very exciting and we all enjoyed hearing this work of artistry and beauty for the first time.  The next day Yolanda arrived in Orange County and gave a master class at Chapman University which was extremely well received and attended.

Mid-December the Pacific Harp Ensemble, Southern CA Harp Ensemble and the Pacific Harp Duo gave an ensemble concert at Crowell Hall at Biola University.  The festive and beautiful holiday music, hot cider and Christmas cookies certainly set spirits in the right direction for the approaching holidays! Check on YouTube, at www.youtube.com, for videos of the Pacific Harp Ensemble's performances coming soon.  

A Lasagna Night was created to provide a fun evening of food and fellowship along with a focus on exploring new music written for the harp.  Our first Lasagna Night explored the harp music of Daniel Catan with performances by Daniel's wife, harpist Andrea Puente and members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  Lasagna Night II featured Los Angeles' KUSC radio host Rich Capparela and his wife, harpist Marcia Capparela. Paul Chihara, guest composer for the evening, was interviewed by Mr. Capparela which was then followed by a performance of Chihara's Minidoka. Mr. Chihara's work for harp, clarinet, viola and percussion was performed by Pacific Symphony principal players, which included our own chapter president, Mindy Ball.   

What better way to celebrate the coming of Spring than with a fiesta.  Spring Fiesta II, held in April was another opportunity enjoy food and fellowship.  A Celtic harp was raffled away in our inugural year which raised a much needed $1500 dollars for the chapter.  Both years members enjoyed the ever popular Easter Egg hunt, with prizes in every egg.  The Mexican-style lunch was a wonderful complement to the amazing music of Paraguayan harpist Julio Montero and his band, The Far South Trio. 

In late April harpist Greg Buchanan offered a toe-tapping concert with a workshop focusing on improvisation, held at Spurgeon United Methodist Church in Santa Ana. 

We ended the year on an education note with Scholarship Auditions and Recital.  It was wonderful to see so many young harpists from all over Orange County participating.  We were grateful to two benefactors, seeking harp music to flourish in Orange County, for supporting the Scholarship Auditions and making the prize money available to the winners.

What does it take to be the Chapter of the Year, 2008-2009?  It takes a lot of thought, planning and hard work on the part of many harpists and harp supporters to have given Orange County this amazing chapter.  Many thanks to Mindy, Tomoko, Donna and Kaffee, the great board who started this chapter and to the many members who made it happen.  As is so often said, “many hands make light work,”  and Orange County Chapter members are eagerly awaiting their third year of chapter events.

To stay up-to-date on what is happening with the Orange County Chapter, check out our website: www.orangeharps.org