Acclaimed Harpist Yolanda Kondonassis and Students From the Oberlin Conservatory of Music Collaborate on Recording; a Portion of the Proceeds Will be Donated to the Environmental Defense Fund
Telarc Release, Air, Features Music of Debussy and Takemitsu and Performances by Flutist Joshua Smith and Violist Cynthia Phelps
<Music critics please note: Review CDs are available upon request.>
OBERLIN, OHIO (September 30, 2008)—Yolanda Kondonassis, Assistant Professor of Harp at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and one of the most recorded harpists in the world, has combined her passion for music with her joy in working with young musicians to produce Air, her newest recording for Telarc. Performing on the disc, which will be released on October 28, 2008, is Joshua Smith, principal flute of the Cleveland Orchestra; Cynthia Phelps, principal viola of the New York Philharmonic; and the string orchestra Oberlin 21, an ensemble of Oberlin Conservatory students conducted by Bridget-Michaele Reischl, Music Director of the Oberlin Orchestras.
The album features the music of Claude Debussy (Danses sacrée et profane for Harp and String Orchestra, Syrinx for Solo Flute, and Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp) and Toru Takemitsu (And Then I Knew ‘Twas Wind for Flute, Viola, and Harp; Air for Solo Flute; and Toward the Sea II for Alto Flute, Harp, and String Orchestra). Air was recorded with the support and sponsorship of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Oberlin’s Warner Concert Hall in January 2008. The CD is available at major record outlets, through www.telarc.com, and iTunes.
Kondonassis is a dedicated environmentalist; she and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music are pleased to donate a portion of their royalties from the sale of Air to the Environmental Defense Fund. Kondonassis writes about her commitment to raising public awareness about global warming on her web site, www.yolandaharp.com, and notes that her choice to record Debussy and Takemitsu was motivated in part by the great inspiration both composers took from the earth. They “transmuted that inspiration into an impressionist fusion that continues to touch listeners today.” This is not the first time that non-profit environmental organizations have benefited from Kondonassis’ philanthropy; royalties from her 2000 Telarc release, Music of Hohvaness, support the Rainforest Alliance.
Oberlin College consistently appears on national short lists of environmentally responsible campuses. The Kaplan College Guide 2009, published by Newsweek, named Oberlin one of the nation’s top 25 most environmentally responsible schools, and Oberlin is one of only 15 colleges and universities to achieve the highest grade, “A-,“ on the Sustainable Endowments Institute’s 2009 College Sustainability Report Card. Oberlin is also one of the ten “Coolest Schools” in Sierra Magazine’s annual Green College Guide.
Hailed by the New York Times for her “powerful playing and musicianly energy,” Kondonassis has appeared all over the world as a concerto soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician. Equally powerful as a teacher, she has guided her Oberlin students to success in many prestigious competitions, including the American Harp Society National Competition, the American String Teachers Association National Solo Competition, and the WAMSO Young Artist Competition.
Kondonassis recently told International Musician magazine: “Teaching helps my playing, which helps my recording, performing, and writing books, so it doesn’t feel like I have nine jobs, rather, it’s one really interesting, diverse job.”
Beyond the walls of her teaching studio, Kondonassis’ next collaboration with Oberlin students will be a performance of Bright Sheng’s harp concerto Never Far Away, the composer’s first concerto for harp and orchestra. Composed for Kondonasssis, the concerto is underwritten by the San Diego Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, the Grand Rapids Symphony, and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Kondonassis, performing with the San Diego Symphony under the baton of Jahja Ling, will present the world premiere of Never Far Away at Copley Symphony Hall in San Diego on October 24, 2008. A performance of the concerto by the Oberlin Orchestra, with Kondonassis as soloist, is slated for the 2009-10 season.
About Yolanda Kondonassis
Yolanda Kondonassis is recognized as one of the world’s foremost harpists, performing both as a concerto soloist and as a recitalist throughout the United States, Asia, and Europe.
Since making her debut at age 18 with the New York Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta, she has appeared as soloist with such major orchestras as the Cleveland Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, New York Chamber Symphony, Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, New World Symphony, Florida Orchestra and Hong Kong Philharmonic, to name a few. Other solo appearances include engagements at Lincoln Center, the 92nd Street Y and Taiwan’s National Concert Hall.
As a Telarc recording artist, praised by Gramophone magazine for the “clarity, colour, and rhythmic vitality of [her] playing,” Kondonassis has won universal critical acclaim for her 13 discs, which include much of the standard repertoire, as well as her own transcriptions and compositions for harp. With more than 100,000 albums sold worldwide, her latest recording, Salzedo’s Harp: Music of Carlos Salzedo was released in 2007. Considered one of the world’s preeminent performers of the works of Carlos Salzedo, Kondonassis presents an authentic and exciting glimpse of Salzedo’s genius in this new collection.
A devoted chamber musician, Kondonassis has performed at the Marlboro, Spoleto, Tanglewood, Vail, Bay Chamber, Strings in the Mountains, Innsbrook, and Mainly Mozart Festivals. She has collaborated with members of the Alban Berg, Guarneri, Shanghai, and Vermeer string quartets. She also appears regularly in concert with the Rossetti String Quartet, violinist Chee-Yun, and flutist and CBS commentator Eugenia Zukerman.
For more information, visit www.yolandaharp.com.
About Oberlin 21
Oberlin 21 is comprised of an exceptional group of young artists at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, all of whom share a respect for the art and sensibility of chamber music making in every ensemble setting, large or small. In keeping with the mission of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Oberlin 21 is devoted to creating music of the highest quality, showcasing extraordinary talent, and exploring new musical landscapes. The ensemble was founded in 2008.
About the Oberlin Conservatory of Music
The Oberlin Conservatory of Music, founded in 1865 and situated amid the intellectual vitality of Oberlin College since 1867, is the oldest continuously operating conservatory in the United States. Renowned internationally as a professional music school of the highest caliber and pronounced a “national treasure” by the Washington Post, Oberlin’s alumni have gone on to achieve illustrious careers in all aspects of the serious music world. Many of them have attained stature as solo performers, composers, and conductors, among them Jennifer Koh, Steven Isserlis, Denyce Graves, Franco Farina, Christopher Robertson, Lisa Saffer, George Walker, Christopher Rouse, Huang Ruo, David Zinman, and Robert Spano. All of the members of the contemporary sextet eighth blackbird, most of the members of the International Contemporary Ensemble, and many of the members of Apollo’s Fire are Oberlin alumni. The Miró, Pacifica, Juilliard, and Fry Street quartets, among other chamber ensembles, include Oberlin-trained musicians, as do major orchestras and opera companies throughout the world.
For more information about Oberlin, visit www.oberlin.edu/con.
Marci Janas, Director of Conservatory Communications
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Charlotte Landrum, Associate Director of Conservatory Media Relations
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