We recently caught up with Sophie Graf, a harpist and SDYS alum from 2010 – 2012. A current junior at Duquesne University, learn more about her recent award win, her recommendations for current SDYS students and her favorite memories from her time with SDYS.
What are you up to now?
Right now I am a junior studying for a degree in harp performance at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. At this point I hope to get a master’s in harp performance and then to hopefully become an orchestral harpist.
Recently, the American Harp Society (AHS) named you as one of its 2014 Anne Adams Awards winners, which includes a $2,000 scholarship for full-time study of the harp. What’s a highlight from that exciting day?
One of my favorite parts about winning was being led into the exhibit hall where each of the harp makers had brought harps to display and sell. As a winner, I was allowed to choose any harp there to play at the winners’ recital – I chose a lovely, natural concert grand harp.
|SDYS Music Director Jeff Edmons
coaching Sophie Graf for her
AHS Adams Awards performance
Any recommendations for current SDYS musicians?
Learn to become part of the group. As a solo harpist coming from a piano background, I was not used to playing with other people at all. It was a huge adjustment for me to learn to sit there counting 186 bars of rests before playing for four bars (no joke, this actually happens in harp parts). Now with four years of orchestral playing under my belt, I have come to love listening to all of the incredible musicians around me while I am not playing. The point of an orchestra is to explore all of the rich textures available in classical music. You, as an individual instrumentalist, are just one texture in this vast array. Each instrument plays an important role in the orchestra, but that role is not to play the most notes (well, unless you are a violinist) – it is to provide your unique color when it will best contribute to a piece as a whole.
Anything else you would like to share?
My short time playing with SDYS (2010-2012) has already been helpful repertoire-wise. This coming school year we will play Shosty 5 and Pictures at an Exhibition, both of which I first played with SDYS. I have to audition with excerpts from them when I get back to school and having already played them is making it a lot easier! Last year we played the Carmen Suites, which I had already played with the Sinfonia.