Committed to pushing the boundaries of harp performance, Jennifer R. Ellis (D.M.A. University of Michigan, M.M. Cleveland Institute of Music, B.M. Oberlin) has performed ninety premieres. She embraces firsts; she was the first harpist to be a One Beat Fellow, a fellowship through the U.S. State Department, and the first harpist to attend Bang on a Can, Fresh Inc., and Splice summer festivals. An Alice Chalifoux Prize awardee, she has served as a featured performer for the Festival of New American Music, Sound of Late, Spitting Image Collective, Kerrytown Edgefest, Creative Arts Orchestra, and OINC. Her recordings run the gamut from American Indian fusion (Dha Re Dha with Sumkali) to solo improvisation (“January Lullaby” on Persist) to new music for harp and saxophone (Launch with Jonathan Hulting-Cohen). Her passion for teaching harp composition has led her to provide workshops for composers at institutions including Atlantic Music Festival, CSU Sacramento, Cleveland State University, Bowling Green State University, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Miami University, Splice Festival, UC Davis, University of Hartford, University of Michigan, and University of North Carolina Greensboro. She was a featured clinician at the 2017 International Harp Festival, 2018 harp faculty at Nief Norf Summer Festival, and a 2017-2018 Artist-In-Residence at UC Davis. She currently teaches for Mills College, Harps Etc., and San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she teaches harp and community engagement. Her writing has appeared in The American Harp Journal, Harp Column, and New Music Box. www.harpellis.com
Weav-Weav-Weaving II. “Her Voice Never Faltered”
This piece is loosely inspired by the poem “The Ballad of the Harp Weaver” by Edna St. Vincent Millay. In the poem, Millay converts the harp into a utilitarian object that produces the unexpected. The second movement uses a variety of string manipulations to create a buzzing, vibrating sonic world. A motion sensor is correlated to the speed of my left hand and the data it sends is tied to seven settings that manipulate the live sound input and delay. This tie creates a real-time dialogue between the harp and the electronics.
This piece is loosely inspired by the poem “The Ballad of the Harp Weaver” by Edna St. Vincent Millay. In the poem, the mother uses her harp to create tangible objects to provide for her son, using the harp strings as a loom to spin out garments. Millay converts the harp into a utilitarian object that produces the unexpected.
The final movement is titled “And the Harp-Strings Spoke” in part because very little of the sound in this movement is created by plucking the harp strings. Instead, the strings resonate via the pedal motions.
One Beat: Pray
MC Ricardo Nigaglioni (Luss) from Bronx, NY
Kamerum el Akademico from Santiago de Cuba
Jennifer Ellis from California
The trio joins a group of residents in New Orleans, young and old, to share a moment of music and reflection. Video and audio by Jacob Blumberg (masonjarmusic.com). Additional audio by Kyla-Rose Smith. Assisted by Carter McCall and Alexia Webster. Special thanks to Corey Morgan, Jr., Corey Morgan, Sr., Robert Martin, Sr. Terry Bertrand. OneBeat is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State and One Found Sound.
While harp is what led me to new music, I grudgingly concede that harp is rarely described as the be-all-end-all bastion of new music.