Copyright 2019 Yolanda Kondonassis. Photography by Laura Watilo Blake, Mark Battrell, Robert Muller, Michael Cavotta.

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American Rapture

Yolanda Kondonassis' world premiere recording of Jennifer Higdon's Harp Concerto with Ward Stare and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra is a 2020 GRAMMY Awards® Nominee for Best Classical Instrumental Solo. Jennifer Higdon is nominated for Best Contemporary Classical Composition.

"Higdon’s concerto ... is a delight ... Throughout, Kondonassis’s playing is a delicious thrill." – Gramophone

"[Kondonassis] brings it all to life and commands attention with seemingly limitless vibrance and color." – Cleveland Plain Dealer

"It's an immediately engaging piece, Higdon's transparent scoring allowing Kondonassis to shine: the rapid fingerwork in the second and fourth sections wonderfully secure." – The Arts Desk

Watch the Album Trailer

The journey of bringing Jennifer Higdon’s Harp Concerto to life has been an amazing ride. When Jennifer and I met in Philadelphia to talk about the project long before she began composing it, we agreed on many aspects of what a new harp concerto should be – strong, agile, lyrical, feisty, energetic and even heroic when necessary; it should be challenging, but really fun to play, and it should have a groove that allows the harpist to catch a musical wave with the orchestra once in a while. We concurred that in this concerto, the harp should have a clear voice without an overabundance of delicate filigree and participate fully in the sonic experience as a partner in the texture, not just a soft voice when all is quiet. We decided that an amp hook-up for the harp was a good way for the orchestra to play out without feeling stifled and for the harp to have increased presence and intensity of sound. Jennifer managed all this and more, delivering a work that is all at once powerful, heart-wrenching, whimsical, and original.

Thank you, Jennifer, for taking on this crazy, challenging, magical instrument and giving it new voice; sincere thanks to our commissioning consortium members – The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, The Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, The Oklahoma City Philharmonic, The Lansing Symphony Orchestra, The Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra and The Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra – for their faith in this project, their stunning musicianship and their financial support; thank you to our wonderful premiere series audiences who made the unveiling of this new work feel like a celebration with each performance; and special thanks to our live recording audiences in Rochester who suppressed their coughs, turned off their cell phones and contributed to the wonderful energy on this live recording.

– Yolanda Kondonassis

Track listing:

 

[1-4] Jennifer Higdon (b. 1962): Harp Concerto (2018)21:11 Written for and dedicated to Yolanda Kondonassis

 

[5] Samuel Barber (1910-1981): Symphony No. 1 in One Movement, Op. 9 (1936) 21:58

 

[6] Patrick Harlin (b. 1984): Rapture (2011) 8:45

PERFORMANCE AND RECORDING PHOTOS:

INTERVIEWS: