News from Stephanie Bennett
a brief review of my doings, mostly musical...
(see also bio)
February 2015: Delighted that Beck's CD (that I played harp on) won the Grammy for Album of the year!
Also in February, I played harp for the reception honoring the music Oscar nominees.
August 2014: Played harp once again for the reception for music Emmy nominees at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. August 2014: Played harp once again for the reception for music Emmy nominees at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
March 2014: Played harp once again for the reception for music Oscar nominees, the day before the Oscars. Many of the nominees couldn't make it to the reception because they were busy rehearsing for their performances the next day... but the Lopezes who wrote the winning song LET IT GO were there, and I got to meet Will Butler of Arcade Fire, who was nominated for the score to HER.
Also in March, in another daring stretch of my acting talent, I played the part of "the harpist at the Plaza hotel" in the St. Patrick's Day episode of TV sitcom "2 Broke Girls"!
February 2014: hey, the new Beck CD that I played on, Morning Phase, is out and getting great reviews!! (I played on "Unforgiven" and "Turn Away".) It's a really beautiful album, redolent (in my opinion) of late-60s Prog-Rock and Folk-Rock. Check it out!!
December 2013: Yay, I got to play harp on THE VOICE on NBC again! That is a thrill. And one of the singers I accompanied, Tessanne Chin, went on to win the season!!
August 2013: As part of the Newport Beach Film Festival, I played (and sang a few songs) around the screening of the 80's classic animated film THE LAST UNICORN by the wonderful fantasy author Peter S. Beagle, with whom I've co-written several songs. This is a story beloved by multiple generations, and many fans arrive in costume! See the festivities here.
May & June 2013: the fifth on the list of reality shows I've appeared on (only three of them music-related): I was asked to play on the hit TV show THE VOICE, joining the house band in accompanying the marvelous vocalist Sarah Simmons in May, and Sasha Allen in June. (Quiz: what three music-related reality shows have I played on? And what are the other two reality shows I was on, but without my harp? Do you know the answers?) (Click here for my page about playing on THE VOICE.)
Earlier in May, I got to accompany Candice Glover on AMERICAN IDOL - and Candace went on to WIN this season! Go, Candice!!
And in other May news, I played for Mother's Day at Oprah Winfrey's humble abode in Montecito. A lovely afternoon in a lovely garden, and Oprah was so warm and hospitable!
March, April, May 2013: what a thrill to be asked to play on AMERICAN IDOL again - accompanying the wonderful singer AMBER HOLCOMB on a couple of ballads. Yes, it is really performed LIVE on TV in front of millions and millions of viewers. No pressure, right?? Then in May, playing alongside Candice Glover, who went on to be crowned the season's winner!
February 2013: and now, for something completely different! Playing harp in David Campbell's "Orchestra Eclectica" (over 150 multi-ethnic musicians) backing up singer Beck in a concert that was filmed in 360 degree vision and sound, now viewable online. The video is amazing, and what an experience it was to be part of it!
December 2012: delightful performances with the Angel City Chorale the first weekend of December, and at a new Dickens Christmas Festival in Simi Valley the second weekend! Plus various other festive holiday engagements.
October 2012: My harp was rented to appear in the new iPhone commercial. I don't know whether actress playing the part of 'harp player' didn't know which side of the body the harp goes on, or whether she knew but the director instructed her to do it backwards. But the harp is supposed to rest on the player's RIGHT shoulder; she's got it BACKWARDS!
September 2012: I was invited to entertain once again at the annual reception for music Emmy nominees at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Also was invited to perform at LAWiM (LA Women in Music) Singer-Songwriter night, where I sang 2 of my original songs and accompanied Judy Lamppu on a song that we co-wrote.
August 2012: played in an exciting show - the Zeitgeist Media Festival of 'socially conscious art' - at the Avalon nightclub in Hollywood, at the invitation of vocalist Heather Donavon.
February 2012: entertained at the Society of Composers and Lyricists' reception for Music OSCAR nominees. A highlight was when (multi-Oscar- and Grammy-winning composer) John Williams heard me playing his song CAN YOU READ MY MIND from SUPERMAN, and turned around to give me a big grin and thumbs-up. He was so busy getting his picture taken with everyone else that I decided not to bother him... the pictures here are just me and my harp at the event, in case you've forgotten what we look like!
December 2011: Entertained at various and sundry holiday celebrations as usual, including the Society of Composers & Lyricists' dinner honoring composers & songwriters: Mike Stoller, James Newton Howard, and Clint Eastwood. My snapshot is here, and more pix are on the SCL site here.
A highlight of this December was the ensemble comprised of my adult harp students (beginners to intermediates) making their performance debut at a local assisted-living residence! A musically delightful good time was had by all.
I also participated in the American Harp Society's annual Holiday Extravaganza performance, whose program included my harp ensemble arrangement of DONA NOBIS PACEM ('Grant Us Peace').
November 2011: composed the music for a wonderful stage play 'Balancing the Moon' - a supernatural screwball comedy by Patricia Lamkin! Being based partly on Irish mythology (along with Freudian psychology, love & lust, and other issues), harp was a natural fit! The main theme will be available soon on iTunes, stay tuned...
October 2011: co-produced a beautiful song in my home studio (Harpworld Studio A) for the benefit of Kitten Rescue, a non-profit that rescues cats and kittens in the Los Angeles area. You can listen to it on Youtube, and then buy the song from iTunes (search iTunes store for 'Li'l Tyke' by Cheri Bentley). Vocals are by Gretje Angell, piano (and co-produced) by Susan Winsberg. Then, time for R&R on the Mexican Riviera... Facebook pix here.
August 2011: once again was honored to be asked to entertain at the reception for music Emmy nominees at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. I always try to learn a few of the nominated songs, and snippets from some of the nominated scores. Got some priceless reactions from people when they realized that "the harpist is playing 'I Just Had Sex' from Saturday Night Live!!??" Not what they expected, I guess...
July 2011: I was asked to speak at the World Harp Congress in Vancouver, Canada, and enjoyed several days of visiting with harpists from all over the world, as well as attending harp concerts of classical, jazz, and world music, and seeing some of the newest developments in harp manufacture (such as a MIDI harp and a carbon fiber harp!) Here are some of my snapshots of the adventure.
April-May 2011: I was invited to go to London with a chamber orchestra presenting "an American Tribute to the Royal Wedding", at the Royal College of Music. We got in to London early to get over jet lag, and had a few days for sight seeing, including the day of the wedding!
March 2011: How wonderful to be able to do something to help: I got called to play on a recording session for "Sing it for Japan", a new version of SING by the band MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE which is a fundraiser for the Red Cross Japan. All sales of the song will go 100% to fundraising. Here are my snapshots from the session in Hollywood. Here is the website for the song.
February 2011: what a thrill playing again at the annual Society of Composers and Lyricists reception for the Oscar® music nominees. All the score and song nominees were there except Randy Newman (who had a gig) and Dido (who was having a baby). Trent Reznor (who went on to win the award for best score) was amazed to hear me playing his music on harp. And the songwriters of COMING HOME from COUNTRY STRONG were so jazzed to hear me playing their song that they wanted to get their picture taken with ME, and were nice enough to send me a copy!
December 2010: on Christmas Eve, I played through much of the lovely late-evening service at First Presbyterian Church of Granada Hills; also, the choir sang a Christmas song I wrote ("Look to the Angels").
Also in December: I played harp at the Society of Composers and Lyricists' Holiday party honoring multi-Oscar-Emmy-and-Grammy winning lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman and multi-Emmy-and-Grammy-winning composer Patrick Williams. I helped pay tribute to the guests of honor by playing a couple of songs by Mr. Williams and a medley of the Bergmans' hits - they were all so appreciative and it was so great to meet them!
Also in December: participated in the annual 'Holiday Extravaganza' presented by HarpSocietyLA (Los Angeles chapter of the American Harp Society) - kind of a 'flash mob' of harps, in which a couple dozen harp players (professionals, students, teachers, advanced and beginner alike) descended upon a hospital's lobby and played holiday selections for the staff and patients and assorted friends and family of the performers! A good time was had by all, and I was proud of my adult student who participated - one of her first public performances as a harp player.
November 2010: Spent a few days in the recording studio alongside many of LA's great studio-musician talent, recording the wonderful final projects of the up-and-coming composers from the UCLA Extension Film Scoring courses taught by Emmy-winning composer/arranger Thom Sharp.
October 2010: I was very honored that my composition HANUKAH SONATA received its world premiere at a faculty chamber music concert at the University of Redlands, California, on Monday, October 25, featuring artist faculty Mary Dropkin (harp), Sara Andon (flute), and Kira Blumberg (viola). The musicians, who were very enthusiastic about the piece, did a terrific job performing it, and it was well-received by the audience. The sheet music is available here. Picture of the event is here.
October, 2010: How thrilling, I got to be 1/3 of the hit brit band FLORENCE + THE MACHINE on DANCING WITH THE STARS. This was 'acoustic week' on DWTS so it was just Flo, myself and Flo's guitarist Rob!
Then on Friday (Oct. 15), I appeared with Flo and her full band on the ELLEN DEGENERES show.
I was asked to fill in by Flo's regular harpist Tom "Moth" Monger who is busy getting married this week!
Best wishes, Tom & Connie!!
Here's FLORENCE + THE MACHINE's website.
August 2010: a really fun gig playing in the orchestra of the FAB FOUR Beatles tribute band!
And again entertaining at the SCL's reception for the music Emmy nominees, at the Television Academy.
Also in August, celebrating Lughnasadh with the Celtic Arts Center, by performing at their fundraiser - a set of my own Celtic and Celtic-themed songs, and another accompanying the talented songstress Betté Ozburn.
July 2010: I again helped support St. Martin's Animal Foundation by performing at their lovely fundraiser.
Also in July, playing harp on singer Genevieve Wilson's recording, at Capitol Studios.
May 2010: I presented a well-received seminar for the Society of Composers and Lyricists, on 'Writing for the Harp: for Composing, Orchestrating and Music Prep'; covering pedal harp and Celtic harp (nylon-strung and wire-strung); basic and extended techniques; recommended texts and listening. Wait till you see this great setup they had - with a 'pedal-cam' so the audience could see my feet on the pedals, projected onto a huge screen!
April 2010: I played at a dinner party where President Obama spoke in support of Barbara Boxer. It was surreal to see him and hear that very familiar voice, yet I was not watching TV or listening to the radio - we were in the same room! Here's the LA Times article on the event.
Also in April, I entertained at the VIP reception for PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) prior to their big gala. Here's a snapshot of myself with PCRM president Dr. Barnard.
Also in March, I co-presented a workshop for the Los Angeles chapter of the American Harp Society, on 'Practice and Performance: Playing With Confidence'.
December 2009: busy as usual playing at many holiday parties... also, one of my harps got a part on the set of BIG TIME RUSH at Nickelodeon... I can't find the episode, anyone seen it??
November 2009: I played harp on recording sessions with both Josh Groban and Beck (the latter for Charlotte Gainsbourg's songs). Two such different songwriters, different ways of working which present different challenges to the sidemusicians, and both such exciting projects to be a part of! Josh Groban was at Capitol in Hollywood, with fully orchestrated arrangements; while Beck was in a small private studio and nothing written down; I'd listen to the recording of what they had so far and then he'd either hum or play on his guitar something that he'd like me to play on the harp, or give directions such as 'play something angular'. So, as a musician, you have to sight read well for the former situation, (as WELL as listen and think musically), while for the latter situation, you have to be able to play by ear and improvise!
Also in November, I played and sang a few of my original songs about animals and positive thinking, at a fundraiser/ organic wine tasting/ vegan fashion show for St. Martin's Animal Foundation, a wonderful rescue group in the Los Angeles area. Here are my snapshots from the event; here's their Facebook page.
September 2009: entertained once again at the Society of Composers and Lyricists' reception for the music Emmy nominees. In honor of the event and nominees, I learned to play many unique selections on harp, such as the themes from "the Mole", "United States of Tara" and "Sons of Anarchy" TV shows, as well as the timely holiday song "Much Worse Things" from "A Colbert Christmas", and the touching paean to filial affection, "Motherlover" from Saturday Night Live. Oh, and one I might actually play again: "I Wish I Could Be Santa Claus" by Paul Williams from the Muppets.
August 2009: Rented a concert grand harp to unique singer/songwriter Joanna Newsom to play on her new recordings. (2010 followup note... wow, Joanna's new oeuvre, 'have one on me' (actually a TRIPLE CD, recorded over the last few years) is so beautiful! Her voice has lost its former harshness without losing any of its lovable quirkiness and passion; the arrangements eomplement the music without obscuring it; and her poetry as always is just stupendously lovely.)
July 2009: Christmas in July, as I played Celtic harp on arranger/guitarist Dirk Freymuth's "Celtic Christmas" CD, hopefully out by Yule '09!
June 2009: Celtic Arts Center doings again, as I entertained with Celtic jollity at the harp for the opening of Bloomsday celebrations.
April 2009: Pretty exciting! I appeared on American Idol, front and center stage, accompanying singer Danny Gokey on 'Endless Love'. I only played on the one song, and we rehearsed all day before the evening's live broadcast, so I had time to practice backstage (while the other contestants rehearsed) and so decided to memorize the song so I could play without a music stand. Here are snaps from the performance as well as my backstage snapshot with renowned bassist/MD (music director) Rickey Minor.
March 2009: I helped to adjudicate the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Harp Society's annual auditions for the Valeria Finzi Scholarship. Heard many talented young people who are working very hard at their harp studies! Also played on recording sessions for composer Miriam Cutler's film score, and at a multicultural (partly Celtic) service at a Unitarian Universalist church that paid homage to the spring equinox as a time of rebirth, growth and renewal.
February 2009: Entertained at the Society of Composers & Lyricists' annual reception for music Oscar nominees. Oh and speaking of the Oscar nominees, my arrangements of Javier Navarette's beautiful LULLABY FROM PAN'S LABYRINTH (nominated for the Oscar for best score a couple of years ago) has now been published and is available on this site.
January 2009: participated in the Celtic Arts Center's performances of 'Scenes from Classic and Modern Irish Theater' by playing harp in the opening processional (in full costume!) and at intermission.
December 2008: played at several lovely holiday parties around Los Angeles.
November 2008: My harp students enjoyed playing for their families at my annual student recital at my studio in Northridge.
October 2008: I got to play David Arkenstone's beautiful music from the soundtrack of WORLD OF WARCRAFT as a member of David's 'Tavern Band' at a VIDEO GAMES LIVE concert, accompanied by a full symphony orchestra.
September 2008 was action-packed:
I was honored to be asked to entertain at the star-studded gala fundraiser of Animal Acres, a wonderful sanctuary in Acton, California where volunteers work night and day to give a good rest-of-their-life to farmed animals rescued from neglect or abuse situations.
Then I entertained at the reception for Emmy Nominees in music, presented by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the Society of Composers and Lyricists.
And then I was in the studio with A FINE FRENZY, adding harp parts to vocalist Alison Subol's version of 'The Things We Did Last Summer' for an upcoming compilation.
July 2008: at the invitation of the Celtic Arts Center, I presented a concert of music from and inspired by the Celtic Isles, very ably accompanied by my very talented friend Susan Craig Winsberg on flutes. There was a plethora of instrumentation; I sang and played Concert Grand Pedal Harp, Nylon-Strung Celtic Harp and Wire-Strung Celtic Harp. Sue played Silver Flute, Alto Flute, Bass Flute, Irish Wooden Flute, and whistles! The enthusiastic audience ate it up, and a Celtically grand time was had by all. Here are pix of the event.
June 2008: quite an eventful trip to Michigan; I attended the bi-annual conference of the American Harp Society, and also while in Michigan presented a workshop at Michigan Harp Center, and a concert at Kerrytown Concert House in Ann Arbor.
March 2008: I was the guest teacher/adjudicator for the 'education program' of the Los Angeles chapter of American Harp Society, in effect a master class, wherein I listened to the performances of several harp students and made suggestions on improving their performances. This free annual event is a great opportunity for local harp students to to get tips from someone other than their regular harp teacher.
February 2008: I was honored to perform once again at the annual celebration that the Society of Composers & Lyricists hosts for the nominees in the Oscar music categories (score and song). Here I am celebrating with Marketa Irglova and Glen Hansard, the stars and also the songwriters of the movie ONCE.
December 2007: performed for the holiday party of the Society of Composers and Lyricists, where I was thrilled to meet one of my favorite musician/composers of all time, Dave Grusin.
November 2007: I went to Dayton, Ohio to give a concert and a workshop for the harp society. Here are some pix from the events... here's more info about my workshops. Also was in the studio with composer Jeff Danna again, playing harp on his film scores.
October 2007: I performed at the Celtic Arts Center's Samhain concert.
May 2007: Did you see the season finale of hit TV series BONES on Wednesday, May 16? I played the part of 'the harpist at the wedding'. Here are some snapshots.
February 2007: And now for something completely different. I reported to a recording session and didn't bring my harp - kept feeling like I'd forgotten something! But no, I'd actually been hired as the lead vocalist on 'Voodoo 2', the new exotica record by the legendary Robert Drasnin, a followup to his 1959 classic, Voodoo. The mid-century-style music is terrific, jazzy, fun, complex yet danceable, and of course, cool and exotic as hell. Here's my page with a few snapshots of the recording sessions...
Also in February, I performed at Society of Composers and Lyricists' annual reception honoring the Oscar nominees in music. Here are snapshots of me with some of the celeb honorees, including multi-Oscar winner Gustavo Santaolalla.
Speaking of awards: at February's 49th annual Grammy awards, the Dixie Chicks (in accepting one of the FIVE grammies for 'Taking the Long Way') thanked "all the musicians who played on the record". Hey, THAT'S ME!! The review on Amazon.com calls the CD a "beautiful sonic tapestry (peppered with myriad Beatlesque hallmarks)". That would be due to the beautiful string arrangements by David Campbell.
And in yet more February excitement, I celebrated Valentine's day by performing at a fundraiser for the elephant sanctuary of Performing Animal Welfare Society.
November 2006: I celebrated Thanksgiving by volunteering at a vegan dinner at the Gentle Barn, where a turkey was the guest of honor, not the main course.
August 2006: I performed a concert of my own music for the concert series at Palisades Lutheran Church (in Pacific Palisades, CA), assisted by two very fine musicians, Laura Halladay on flutes and Harry Gilbert on cello.
April 2006: what would a Meat Loaf "Bat Out of
Hell" production be without some dulcet harp tones? I played
harp on Mr. Loaf's CD entitled "Bat Out of Hell III, the
Monster is Loose" (released Halloween '06). The songs I
played on are "Cry to Heaven", "Land of the Pig", and
"Monstro". You can read all about it (and hear samples)
February 2006: I celebrated Valentine's day by performing (ably abetted by my friend Laura Halladay on flute) at the 'Love Chickens, Don't Eat Them' event held at Animal Acres sanctuary for farmed animals in Acton, CA. In honor of the themes of the day, one of the songs I performed was "My Chicken Valentine" (to the tune of "My Funny Valentine"). "Is your figure less than Greek? Is your mouth a little beak?" Here is a page with a couple of snapshots of the event.
December 2005: This December, there were two concerts that included the premieres of some Stephanie Bennett compositions! The First Presbyterian Church of Granada Hills presented their annual Christmas concert, which included the choir (accompanied by myself on harp, plus string quintet and organ) singing my original Christmas song, "LOOK TO THE ANGELS". Here's where you can order the sheet music if you would like to perform LOOK TO THE ANGELS. It's available with lyrics in either Christian or secular Christmas versions.
Then, Saturday, December 10, MESTO (Multi-Ethnic Star Orchestra) presented a holiday concert that included my 'CELTIC FANTASIA for flute soloist and multi-ethnic orchestra', based on several Irish and Scottish folk music themes. This piece was commissioned by Mesto to feature multi-flute player Laura Halladay, who did a fabulous job playing low Eb whistle, D whistle, soprano and sopranino recorders, silver flute and Irish wood flute. Brava! Here are some pictures of the event.
Also in December, a benefit CD was released by the Celtic Arts Center, to which I contributed one track: myself playing Celtic harp, with Laura Halladay playing pennywhistle, on the traditional Irish tune 'Banish Misfortune'.
October 2005: I was invited by the indomitable Robbin Gordon-Cartier (harpist and harp teacher extraordinaire), who teaches the harp classes at Cicely Tyson School of Performing Arts in East Orange, New Jersey, to present some workshops for the harp students. Here are snapshots from that day.
September 2005: The good news - the Paul McCartney CD I played harp on, "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard", has been released! The disappointing news... my name isn't on it! Instead of crediting the individual players, the CD booklet merely mentions 'the Los Angeles Music Players'. Oh well... YOU who read these pages, know more than the average Paul McCartney fan knows... about the harp tracks, anyway!
August 2005: Along with flutist Laura Halladay, I performed songs from "Bardina's Forest" and other originals, in a concert series in Alhambra, CA.
May 2005: Music therapy for animals! I performed at a fund-raiser for ANIMAZONIA wildlife foundation, an animal sanctuary. My friend Laura Halladay joined me, playing flute and helping with the story-telling segments as we performed songs and stories from my animal-themed CD, 'Bardina's Forest'. In addition to performing for the humans in attendance, I also took a small harp over to Saba, a lioness who was recovering from eye surgery and feeling poorly, hoping to soothe and cheer her up with some gentle music. Here are a few snapshots from that day.
April 2005: I got out of town for a few days, for a vacation at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. The wildflowers were in fine form! That doesn't mean I got away from music altogether, though - no, I brought along a small harp for playing around the campfire. Here's a little photo gallery.
February 2005: I played for a reception that Society of Composers and Lyricists gave honoring the Oscar nominees in music. I shook hands with Andrew Lloyd Webber, but didn't ask him for a snapshot, as he was waiting for the loo. I don't know, it just didn't seem like the right time.
January 2005: I was honored to start the new year by playing harp at the wedding of top record producer Terry Lewis (of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis fame; producers of Janet Jackson, et al) to the lovely Indira Singh, at a breathtakingly romantic and elegant wedding in Beverly Hills. Here's a snapshot of me and the happy groom.
In other January gigs, I played live harp music for a yoga class; played background music for a fashion show depicting women of the Bible; and taught school (music theory classes at the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies magnet school). There is never a dull moment in L.A... not even in January!!
December 2004: I played in a delightful production of the Christmas opera AMAHL AND THE NIGHT VISITORS by Gian-Carlo Menotti. Here's a snapshot of me and a couple of the stars (Amahl and one of the Three Kings).
Also in December, I entertained at the holiday party of Society of Composers and Lyricists, comprised of many of Hollywood's top composers. Here's a snapshot of me making holiday cheer with the Alf Clausen, the brilliant composer for the brilliant TV show THE SIMPSONS.
September 2004: I entertained at two receptions for the EMMY nominees at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in North Hollywood. Here are a couple of snapshots of me and my buddy Emmy.
August 2004: watch your TV screen for a new commercial for the TV show JEOPARDY in which many different musicians play the Jeopardy 'think' theme for a few seconds at a time. That's me at the harp, with my rendition of the timeless classic. Here are a couple of snapshots of me getting ready for my closeup.
Also in August, I played harp on recordings for the upcoming CD by rock band GOOD CHARLOTTE (produced by Eric Valentine) (orchestrated by David Campbell).
July 2004 Another lovely CD that I co-created has been released: UNICORN'S JOURNEY, featuring myself on concert grand harp and Marilyn Harris on grand piano, is part of the series of meditation/relaxation recordings that Marilyn and her equally talented husband Mark Wolfram have been creating. This past April, Marilyn and I composed and improvised several peaceful opuses on the spot, while Mark engineered, counseled, encouraged, and created poetic titles for our works. This dynamic duo also has a fantastic new jazz vocal CD out, as well as scoring for film soundtracks, etc! To see, hear and order the new CD, go to CDbaby; or go to Wrightwood Records.
June 2004 And now, for something completely different. Have you ever seen a LASER HARP? Instead of strings, there are laser beams. You play it by sticking your fingers into the laser beams, which triggers a built-in synthesizer to play. You can choose from several different sounds; one sounds like harp, one like steel drum, one like harpsichord, etc. I premiered the new laser harp, built by Cosi Studio and donated by Baxter BioScience to Ventura County's Discovery Center for Science and Technology, at an unveiling event on June 2nd. Click here to see.
I'm black and blue from pinching myself to see if I'm
dreaming. Think of the most amazingly classic, influential,
beloved, legendary singer/songwriter/composer/star of the 20th
and 21st century. You'd gaze at his records in awe and think
"Gee, someday if I'm really good, I might get to work with
HIM! Sure - in my dreams!!" That's right, Paul
McCartney. I got
called to play harp on a song on his upcoming new recording.
Sir Paul and I worked together one-on-one in the studio,
elaborating on the wonderful arrangements that top Hollywood
created, to come up with harp parts for a very haunting song.
If you still think I'm dreaming, click
here to witness
2003 and now, for
something completely different... my first gig with a Cowboy
band, and my first Civil War Re-enactment. The award-winning
Canadian band COWBOY CELTIC called me to sub for their regular
harpist, in a concert at the big Civil War re-enactment in
Fresno, CA. What a blast!! The music was wonderful, and being
surrounded by thousands of history buffs in costume and in
character was a trippy experience of the highest order.
September 2003: I entertained at a reception for the nominees for music Emmy awards, at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Here's a snapshot of me with thg giant Emmy statue!
August 2003 I was invited by the City of Hope Cancer Center's HARPS FOR HEARTS program director, Lisa Lynne, to present a harp concert and workshop for the staff and patients. It was great to get to share my music, and the joy of learning to play the harp, with them!
July 2003 I was in the studio with the stellar English ambient band LAMB, playing the harp for their upcoming CD.
May 2003 my SECOND CD for At Peace Media has been released and is now available!. Entitled LUMIERE (that's French for "light", by the way - not the opposite of heavy, but as in sunlight/ moonlight/ firelight/ starlight...) This CD consists of my arrangements of Baroque music for relaxation; featuring compositions by Baroque greats Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) and Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714-1787), featuring myself on harp, along with flute players Susan Craig Winsberg and Laura Halladay, and cellist Stefanie Fife. Click here for more details.
April 2003 I played at the Warner Bros. movie lot for a big to-do party celebrating the release of the new movie THE IN-LAWS. Security is tight at the studios these days, so I had to get my van and harp inspected by bomb-sniffing dogs, before being allowed onto the lot. (I passed inspection.) What would we do without our wonderful friends the animals??
A DVD of live performances ('NOCTURNAL JOURNEYS, LIVE') by world-renowned percussion/theater group CAMPANILE - including their performance of my composition AU JARDIN DU ROI DES LAPINS - is now available from the CAMPANILE website. CAMPANILE received a nice fan mail about this track.
March 2003 I played in the pit orchestra of a great show called LOESSER IS MORE, presented by S.T.A.G.E. LA as a fundraiser for the good works of AIDS PROJECT LA. Click here to see snapshots of me schoozing backstage with a bevy of stars of stage and screen who performed in the show.
December 2002 Composer/arranger/flutist Susan Craig Winsberg's beautiful CD of CELTIC LOVE SONGS has been released (I played on several cuts - some Celtic harp, some pedal harp.) (I also played on Sue's 1999 release, LA BELLE DAME.)
October 2002 Sad news: the death of beloved arranger/bandleader Ray Conniff, with whom I had the honor of touring and recording for many years. He will be missed, but his music lives on forever.
September 2002 I played harp on sessions for Steve Hall's upcoming CD, "Sweet Dreams (Treasured Lullabyes)".
July 2002 I played harp on several concerts with Mexican superstars, father and son team of Vicente Fernandez and Alejandro Fernandez. Vicente was this year's Latin Grammy Person of the Year award, and also won the Grammy for best Ranchera album. Click here to see a pic of me & Vicente.
May 2002 I was in the studio with beloved Japanese singer/songwriter superstar MIYUKI NAKAJIMA, playing harp on her new CD "Fairy Ring". I played Celtic harp on the song "Loved Flower, Unloved Flower" and concert grand pedal harp on "Sea". Click here to see a pic of me & Miyuki in the studio, and the cover of the CD. Click here for more info on the CD.
I also played harp on LEANN RIMES' new CD, "Twisted Angel", working alongside Desmond Child (Songwriter) and David Campbell (arranger).
February 2002 At last! My new CD of Celtic Music for Relaxation, entitled 'Avalon', is now available from At Peace Music. Featuring myself on nylon-strung Celtic harp, wire-strung Celtic harp, and concert grand harp, as well as other wonderful musicians playing Uilleann pipes, flutes, tin whistles, and cello, it's a wonderful collection of my arrangements of several traditional Celtic tunes, as well as a couple of originals that I composed in Ireland. Click here for more information.
September 2001 As the world mourned the horrific events of 9/11, we were all moved to help in whatever way we could. Some of us creatives were inspired to express our feelings about the day in songs, hoping to help ourselves and listeners heal with our expressions of mourning, loss, gratitude and hope; as well as generating a contribution to the victims' funds. To this end, during September and October, my friend, lyricist Judy Lamppu produced a CD of songs inspired by 9/11 entitled "America Speaks from the Heart". I wrote the music for three of these songs (Land of the Living, Black and Grey, and Spirit of the Light), on which I also played harp (and I arranged the strings on a fourth song, Candle in the Rain). The proceeds go 50% to Namaste Interfaith Center (where Judy worships) and 50% to the Firefighters and Policeman Victims Fund in New York.
And later in September, in my top celebrity-sighting wedding of the year, I played harp for Jennifer Lopez's wedding (to dancer Cris Judd). I led an ensemble that also included flute, violin, viola and cello, in traditional Classical selections. Security was so tight that all the GUESTS as well as all the musicians and other staff had to gather at a holding area, where they had their cameras, cel phones, pagers, and pens & pencils (??) confiscated, then were bussed to the site (a rented estate, not J-Lo's home). I, however, had to drive my harp directly to the site, and the paparazzi who'd gathered were so hungry for news that they snapped photos of my van driving through the gate. This momentous occasion (my van going through the gate) was later televised on "Entertainment Tonight". I am not making this up.
(J-Lo looked spectacular, of course. It was really hot out that day, but other than that, it was a fun gig.)
August 2001 The CD by West African master Kora player and vocalist Prince Diabate (on which I played harp on the final track, the lovely "Lullabye Waltz"), has been released.
July 2001 Time for a little R&R. Drove up the California coast from Los Angeles to Carmel and Monterey, camping out at various off-the-beaten-track state, national and regional parks along the way (such as Lake Cachuma and Montana de Oro). Did the tourist thing at Hearst Castle (the palatial home of early-20th-century millionaire William Randolph Hearst) - spectacular and worth seeing, but not nearly as beautiful or moving as the full moon to whom I played my harp one night atop a windswept hill in Laguna Seca.
June 2001 I played for the President of Israel at an event in Beverly Hills. I didn't get a snapshot of us together like I did with Her Excellency the President of Ireland, but you can click here to see the engraved invitation! Security was understandably thorough, so the harp and I had to be inspected for weapons by the friendly Secret Service agents & their bomb-sniffing dogs before being cleared to enter. I'm happy to report that all went peacefully!
The day after the movie shoot, I was playing at a lovely garden party where Graham Nash (of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) was one of the guests. Graham brought out his guitar and the two of us serenaded the hostess and her guests (including Merv Griffin) with a duet version of "Teach Your Children". Click here to see me singing and playing with Graham Nash.
April 2001 I've finished making my new CD! On the "At Peace" label of relaxation music (especially targeted for the benefit of massage therapists, or anyone else who needs to relax or help others relax), the new recording, entitled AVALON, contains my arrangements of traditional Celtic tunes (and two Celtic compositions of my own - I wrote them in Ireland, you see). I played harp on every song, of course (nylon-strung Celtic, wire-strung Celtic, and pedal harp). A few other wonderful musicians are also featured, including Eric Rigler on Uilleann pipes (Irish bagpipes) (Eric played on the scores to TITANIC and BRAVEHEART); Susan Craig Winsberg on flutes, recorders and pennywhistles; Laura Halladay on flute and low whistles; and Stefanie Fife on cello. I'm very pleased with how it turned out and I can't wait for you to hear it!
March 2001 got the news from Rima Greer of CAMPANILE that their CD "Nocturnal Journeys", on which my composition "Au Jardin Du Roi Des Lapins" is included, has made it to #9 on the national New Age charts! Rima says that the radio DJs seem to like my tune especially ...
December 2000 Linda Ronstadt's beautiful new Christmas CD, "A Merry Little Christmas", on which I played harp on several tracks, has been released. Click here to see a picture of the cover; here to find it on Amazon.com. I played on the Christmas Song, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, River, I Wonder As I Wander, and Away in a Manger.
November 2000 Everlast's new, critically acclaimed hip-hop CD, "Eat at Whitey's", on which I played harp, has been released... that's me playing the hip-hop harp throughout the haunting song 'Graves to Dig'.
Received some concert premieres of a couple of my compositions:
Harpist Kathleen Lynch performed my composition "Dragonmaker" (for harp and chamber orchestra) on her graduation recital at Boston Conservatory of Music! And 'musical percussion theater' group CAMPANILE have been performing their transcription (for handbells), of my composition "The Rabbit Who Belonged to the Desert" (Retitled "Au Jardin Du Roi Des Lapins") in concert.
(Both of these compositions can be heard on my first CD, 'Stories Seldom Told'.)
Campanile's performance of "The Rabbit Who Belonged to the Desert"/"Au Jardin Du Roi Des Lapins" also appears on their new CD, NOCTURNAL JOURNEYS. You can even buy sheet music for the handbell version from Campanile! I had the pleasure of catching their show at Cal State Northridge. You have got to see them perform if you get a chance!! As their website says, "Campanile is a contemporary musical concept show in the tradition of Stomp and Riverdance. Combining handbells, percussion, choreography and comedy, Campanile creates an event filled with rock-n-roll, pop, new age music, dancing and fun." 2008 update: unfortunately, Campanile has retired from performing, but you can still buy their CDs, DVDs and sheet music, and re-live the magic!
September 2000 I have been notified that a recording by Native American flute player Golana, on which I played harp and arranged, has received a nomination in the prestigious Native American Music Awards ('NAMMYs') for "Best Instrumental Recording". Congratulations, Golana!
August 2000 I had a wonderful vacation in Ireland (mostly Dublin, Kilkenny, Killarney, Enniscorthy, and the Ring of Kerry), where I saw lots of beautiful sights, heard lots of traditional music, and sat in with some of the local musicians playing in pubs... click here for a photo album of my trip to Ireland.
July 2000 I played harp on several songs in recording sessions for celebrated vocalist Linda Ronstadt, for her Christmas CD on Elektra records. Gracious and in fine voice, Linda joined large and small instrumental and vocal ensembles in the studio for this eclectic recording. I gave her a copy of my Bardina's Forest children's CD and she called me later from Tucson to tell me how much her kids have been enjoying it! Thanks, Linda!
June 2000 On June 4, I played harp at the top-secret wedding of 'Titanic' director James Cameron and Suzi Amis, who played the granddaughter of Gloria Stewart's character in the present-day scenes in the movie. The intimate wedding (the only guests were the couple's 2 children and 2 other friends) was held at sunset in a beautifully landscaped oasis in the middle of the Camerons' 750 acres of wilderness in Malibu.
On June 21, I played harp (and
played percussion on a few songs!) in the band led by classic
Motown singer/songwriter/recording artist Leon Ware,
writer/producer of the classic Marvin Gaye album "I Want You".
For this spectacular performance (known as "I Want You Live"),
we played selections from that classic album. The other
musicians in this band included some of jazz and R&B's
brightest stars, including:
April 2000 Marston Smith's delightful new CD 'Celtic Cello' has been released, featuring Marston on cello and myself on harp, playing Celtic favorites such as Londonderry Air (also known as Danny Boy), Skye Boat Song, Saint Patrick's day, etc. We recorded it last December at my studio (Harpworld Studio A), at which time I came up with the arrangements. Click here to visit Marston's site... here to hear a clip from the CD!
Also played harp on recording sessions for Steve Hall's lovely new recording of easy-listening piano orchestrations, entitled "Always; Music Forever".
February 2000 once again, at the invitation of the Los Angeles chapter of the American Harp Society, I performed songs from my CD 'Bardina's Forest' at a concert of New Music for Harp.
January 2000 welcome to the new millennium! A composition of mine was used in a restaurant scene in the hit series PARTY OF FIVE at Columbia Television!
November '99 Played harp with Persian superstar Dariush at Hollywood's glamorous Pantages Theater. Click here for a snapshot of me & Dariush.
October '99 Brasil - bom dia, mais uma vez! (That's Portuguese for "Brazil - hello again"!) Yes, another concert tour with Ray Conniff Singers and Orchestra, promoting his two new CD's, "S'Country" and "S'Christmas". Lovely days in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, the always charming Curitiba, etc. Also a couple of days in Uruguay while we were at it. Snapshots: me with Mr. Conniff ...the beautifully painted wooden case of the harp that we rented in Uruguay ...Ray onstage at Ibirapuera Park, Sao Paulo; and my view from the stage at Ibirapuera.
September '99 at the invitation of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, I performed Irish and original music for Her Excellency, Mary McAleese, President of Ireland. What an honor! Click here for the photographic evidence. I also met the Foreign Minister of Ireland, Mr. David Andrews. When Mrs. Andrews remarked that I appeared to be a different race from the very tall Foreign Minister (I am not quite five feet tall), I explained that my ethnic heritage is part Leprechaun.
August '99 Susan Craig Winsberg's beautiful new CD, "La Belle Dame: Music of Love, Longing and Sorrow in the Celtic and Poetic Traditions", on which I played pedal harp and Celtic harp and did some arranging, has been released. Check it out at CraigRecords.com.
July '99 Played harp at recording sessions for Ray Conniff's two new CD's, "S'Country" and "S'Christmas".
April '99 Composed & recorded some new orchestral pieces for my composer demo (film production companies, music supervisors/editors etc. may inquire). Also performed material from my BARDINA'S FOREST CD at a concert of New Music For Harp presented by the L.A. Chapter of the American Harp Society. At the same concert, harp/flute/viola trio Entr'amis (Jennifer Duke, harp; Suzanna Giordano, viola; James Lasota, flute) beautifully performed my compositions "Music in the Shape of a Quilt" and "Music in the Shape of a Brook".
It's finally in a theater
near you: hit movie "the Other Sister" with DianeKeaton,
Juliette Lewis & Giovanni Ribisi (filmed in '98). I play
the part of the harpist at the (first) wedding. You actually
get a good look at both myself and my harp (a Venus Paragon,
for you harpophiles who keep track of such things.) Click
here to see my snapshots
from the filming.
Also in February, Celtic fiddler Mary Barton and I performed live on the cable TV show "Bridging Heaven and Earth", from Santa Barbara, California.
January '99: Happy New Year! I was in the studio quite a bit, playing harp on a musical, a movie trailer, a film score, and a rap record! Variety is the spice etc...
December '98: Always a busy season for me, this month included arranging the music and leading the ensemble for Ozzy Osbourne's 50th birthday party. Included in our repertoire were 3 classic Ozzy tunes: Mama I'm Coming Home, Crazy Train, and No More Tears, which at the request of Mr. Osbourne I arranged for 4 harps, 2 flutes, and 2 oboes. I am not making this up.
November '98: Hooray! My new CD, Bardina's Forest is out! I'm so excited about how it turned out. The music is beautiful, not blah like some kids' records; I think all ages will enjoy listening to it. The themes are mostly the wonders of nature, the miracle of the imagination, and the importance of kindness to animals. I had a great time researching the science (do you know about the platypus's secret weapon and unusual parenting techniques???).
I played harp in the orchestra in Celine Dion's Christmas special, "These are Special Times", which aired Wednesday November 25 '98 on CBS. Man, can she sing!
... I arranged and played harp
on a very beautiful tune, "Early Winter", on Mary
forthcoming CD. I also arranged and played harp on a CD by
Native American flute player Golana.
September '98: in South America for another concert tour with Ray Conniff, his Singers & Orchestra. Click here for the exciting photojournalistic evidence.
July '98: Quite an eclectic month! One day I was playing classic rhythm & blues (yes, on harp!) as a member of Bobby Womack's band at the Old Pasadena Jazz Festival. (Electric harp is great for this kind of setting - you can go direct and the stage sound engineers can crank that puppy as loud as they want.) The next day I was performing Mozart and Vivaldi with a chamber trio, alfresco at Orange County's ritziest Ritz. The next day I was playing big-band easy-listening arrangements in the recording sessions for Ray Conniff's new CD of Frank Sinatra tunes. Never a dull moment!
Also, my new compositions for harp, flute, and viola, Music in the Shape of a Brook and Music in the Shape of a Quilt were premiered by Entr'amis at a well-received concert presented by Pacific Composers Forum.
May '98:Entr'amis, the classical harp-flute-viola trio (Mary Dropkin, harp; Jim Lasota, flute; Suzanna Giordano, viola) are performing my composition Michigan Winter at their upcoming concerts in Beverly Hills and at the American Harp Society Performing Artists Competitions. Entr'amis first performed this work at the Redlands Bowl Summer Concert Series.
In just a bit of international touring, played in the band of Persian singing superstar Dariush to screaming, sold-out audiences in Vancouver & Toronto, Canada. What a great experience to be able to participate in the music and the celebrations of other cultures! One of the great blessings of being a musician.
January '98: See what happens when you live in L.A.? I spent a few days in front of the cameras for a Garry Marshall-directed Touchstone/Disney feature film "THE OTHER SISTER" with Diane Keaton and Juliette Lewis. In a daring stretch of my acting talent, I was cast in the role of a harpist at a wedding..
90's: with Engelbert Humperdinck after playing in his concert
I play the harp on tour with Sly Stone and Bobby Womack.