- Interlochen Arts Academy, H.S. Diploma, 1982
- BM, Cleveland Institute of Music, 1986
- MM, Cleveland Institute of Music, 1989
- Study with Alice Chalifoux and Joan Holland
Yolanda Kondonassis is celebrated as one of the world’s premier solo harpists and is widely regarded as today’s most recorded classical harpist. Hailed as “an extraordinary virtuosa” and “sheer luminescence at the harp,” she has performed around the globe as a concerto soloist and in recital, bringing her unique brand of musicianship and warm artistry to an ever-increasing audience.
Since making her debut at age 18 with the New York Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta, Kondonassis has appeared as soloist with numerous major orchestras in the United States and abroad such as the Cleveland Orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Houston Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Dallas Symphony, New York Chamber Symphony, Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfonica de Puerto Rico, Phoenix Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, New World Symphony, and Florida Orchestra. Other solo appearances include engagements at Avery Fisher Hall, the 92nd Street Y, and Taiwan’s National Concert Hall.
Chamber music is a passion for Kondonassis, and she enjoys every opportunity to indulge. The Cleveland Plain Dealer praised her recent debut performance with guitarist Jason Vieaux as “a joy from top to bottom.” Recent seasons have included a tour of New Zealand with the Still/Chase/Kondonassis Trio and frequent appearances at festivals throughout the United States such as the Marlboro, Santa Fe, Spoleto, Tanglewood, Vail, Bay Chamber, Strings in the Mountains, Innsbrook, Great Lakes, and Mainly Mozart festivals. Her concert collaborations have included performances with the Shanghai, Rossetti, JACK, Jupiter, Biava, and Vermeer string quartets, pianist Jeremy Denk, and flutist Marina Piccinini, among numerous others.
Kondonassis carries her passionate artistic commitment to issues regarding the protection of natural resources, air quality, and climate change. Royalties from several of her projects are donated to earth causes, and she is the founder and director of Earth at Heart, a non-profit organization devoted to earth literacy and inspiration through the arts. Her first children’s book, Our House is Round: A Kid’s Book About Why Protecting Our Earth Matters, was released in 2012 by Skyhorse Publishing.
Born in Norman, Oklahoma, Kondonassis attended high school at Interlochen Arts Academy. She continued her education at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees as a student of Alice Chalifoux. Kondonassis plays a Lyon & Healy Salzedo Model harp.
Kondonassis’ long list of national and international honors includes top prizes in the Affiliate Artists National Auditions in New York and the Maria Korchinska International Harp Competition in Great Britain. The first harpist to receive the Darius Milhaud Prize, she is committed to the advancement of contemporary music through both the performance and commissioning of new works for the harp. The recipient of two Solo Recitalists Grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and a 2011 Cleveland Arts Prize, Kondonassis has been featured on CNN and PBS television as well as Sirius/XM Radio’s Symphony Hall and National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, St. Paul Sunday Morning, Tiny Desk Concerts, and Performance Today. In addition to her active performing and recording schedule, she heads the harp departments at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and The Cleveland Institute of Music, and has presented master classes around the world.
As an author, composer, and arranger, Kondonassis has published three books to date: On Playing the Harp, a comprehensive guide to harp technique and methodology that has quickly become a standard in the harp pedagogy literature; The Yolanda Kondonassis Collection, a compilation of her many original transcriptions, arrangements, and compositions for the harp, and The Yolanda Kondonassis Christmas Collection, featuring Kondonassis’ most popular arrangements from her acclaimed disc Dream Season: The Christmas Harp. Carl Fischer Music publishes all of her works.
American Harp (Azica), released in 2013 and featuring original harp solos by John Williams, Lowell Liebermann, John Cage, Elliott Carter, Stephen Paulus, and Norman Dello Joio, marks Kondonassis’ 17th album in a recording career that has broken boundaries and sold hundreds of thousands of discs and downloads worldwide. Her extensive discography includes Solo Harp: The Best of Yolanda Kondonassis (Azica), celebrating 20 years of critically acclaimed recordings; her Grammy-nominated Telarc release of music by Takemitsu and Debussy entitled Air; and the world-premiere Telarc recording of Bright Sheng’s Harp Concerto, written for Kondonassis. Her many discs have earned universal critical praise as she continues to be a pioneering force in the harp world, striving to make her instrument more accessible to audiences and to push the boundaries of what listeners expect of the harp. “Certainly, the harp can be heavenly—and should be at times—but that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this incredible instrument,” Kondonassis said in a recent interview.
Harp Professor Yolanda Kondonassis nominated for 2020 Grammy AwardDecember 7, 2019
Yolanda Kondonassis has been nominated for a 2020 GRAMMY® Award in the Best Classical Instrumental Solo category for her world premiere recording of Jennifer Higdon’s Harp Concerto with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra led by Music Director Ward Stare. This work appears on the album American Rapture. Higdon’s Harp Concerto is also nominated for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. The Harp Concerto is a consortium commission from six American orchestras: The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra, Lansing Symphony Orchestra, and Oklahoma City Philharmonic. Kondonassis performed the work with all six of the commissioning orchestras during the 2018-19 concert season. A second weekend of concerts with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra kicked off the season in September 2018, which was recorded live for the album. In January 2020, Kondonassis is slated to perform the concerto with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra.
Yolanda Kondonassis' Harp Concerto Premiere Garners PraiseOctober 25, 2019
Harp professor Yolanda Kondonassis continues to receive rave reviews for her 2019 world premiere recording that appears on the Azica label album, American Rapture. This visceral, live-recording release features her performance of Jennifer Higdon's Harp Concerto, a work Kondonassis commissioned in partnership with numerous orchestras across the country, including the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra featured on this recording. Harp Column magazine writes, "This is unexpected in a harp concerto and presents Ms. Kondonassis with the opportunity to totally live in her virtuosic self without compromise." TheArtsDesk.com echoes praise published by numerous writers, "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. Though, for all the fireworks, the concerto's heart is its slow movement, the solo harp accompanied by a succession of solo instruments. There's nimble support from Ward Stare’s Rochester Philharmonic, dazzlingly secure in a live recording."