Yolanda Kondonassis is celebrated as one of the world's premier solo harpists and is widely regarded as today's most recorded classical harpist. With "a range of colour that's breathtaking" (Gramophone), she has been hailed as "a brilliant and expressive player" (Dallas Morning News), with "a dazzling technique unfailingly governed by impeccable musical judgment" (Detroit News). She has appeared around the globe as a concerto soloist and in recital, bringing her unique brand of musicianship and warm artistry to an ever-increasing audience. Also a published author, speaker, professor of harp, and environmental activist, her many passions are woven into a vibrant and multi-faceted career.
The first harpist to receive the Darius Milhaud Prize, Kondonassis is committed to the advancement of contemporary music for the instrument, with recent premieres including works by Bright Sheng, Keith Fitch, and Gary Schocker. Current projects include a Harp Concerto commission with Jennifer Higdon.
With hundreds of thousands of discs and downloads sold worldwide, Kondonassis' extensive discography includes twenty titles and her 2008 release, Air (Telarc), was nominated for a Grammy Award. Her latest album, Ginastera: One Hundred, celebrates Ginastera's 2016 centennial and was released in October 2016 on Oberlin Music. Her many albums have earned universal critical praise as she continues to be a pioneering force in the harp world, striving to push the boundaries of what listeners expect of the harp.
The recipient of two Solo Recitalists Grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and a 2011 recipient of the Cleveland Arts Prize, Kondonassis has been featured on CNN and PBS as well as Sirius/XM Radio's Symphony Hall, NPR's All Things Considered and Tiny Desk Concerts, St. Paul Sunday Morning, and Performance Today. In addition to her active solo, chamber music and recording schedule, Kondonassis heads the harp departments at Oberlin Conservatory of Music and The Cleveland Institute of Music, and presents masterclasses around the world.
American Rapture w/Rochester Philharmonic Orchestr
Azica Records will release American Rapture featuring harpist Yolanda Kondonassis and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Music Director Ward Stare. This album includes the world premiere recording of Pulitzer Prize-winner Jennifer Higdon's Harp Concerto, written for and dedicated to Yolanda Kondonassis; Samuel Barber's Symphony No. 1 in One Movement, Op. 9; and the world premiere recording of Patrick Harlin's Rapture. The album is designed to highlight three generations of American composition and, as defined by Harlin in the context of his work, to depict rapture not as a religious event, but as an experience of extreme human emotion.
American composer Jennifer Higdon won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for her Violin Concerto. Now she's written a new piece for solo harp and orchestra. On this episode ( MAY 22, 2019 ) of Performance Today, harpist Yolanda Kondonassis and the Rochester Philharmonic play Jennifer Higdon's Harp Concerto. The Higdon's Harp Concerto is the centerpiece to the Azica Records release; American Rapture and was written for and dedicated to Yolanda Kondonassis. Featuring the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Music Director Ward Stare, the album also includes; Samuel Barber's Symphony No. 1 in One Movement, Op. 9; and the world premiere recording of Patrick Harlin's Rapture. The album is designed to highlight three generations of American composition and, as defined by Harlin in the context of his work, to depict rapture not as a religious event, but as an experience of extreme human emotion.
This Friday Azica Records will release its first recording of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. The ensemble is led by Ward Stare, who became its Music Director on September 1, 2014. The title of the new recording is American Rapture; and, as is usually the case, it is currently available for pre-order through its Web page on Amazon.com.
The Rochester band became recognized nationally (if not internationally) as a platform for the performance of new compositions, particularly works by American composers. I was therefore delighted to see that the ensemble's Azica debut featured two world premiere recordings by two generations of American composers. The "main attraction" of the album is the harp concerto that Jennifer Higdon (born in 1962) completed last year, written for and dedicated to the virtuoso harpist Yolanda Kondonassis. This concerto begins the album, which concludes with one of the young American composers currently on the rise, Patrick Harlin (born in 1984). He is represented by "Rapture," inspired by experiences described by James Tabor in his book Blind Descent, which explores the practices of "extreme" cave exploration. Between these two offerings is a new recording of one of the pieces that Hanson had previously recorded on Mercury, Samuel Barber's Opus 9 (first) symphony.
READ THE FULL Rehearsal Studio REVIEW
The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra's new album "American Rapture" highlights the most intriguing components of the RPO's musical identity in the Ward Stare era. "American Rapture" represents both these inclinations, in a live recording that achieves the vibrancy of a concert performance combined with a polished, hi-resolution sound.
On the world premiere recording of Jennifer Higdon's mercurial Harp Concerto, the crystalline precision of Yolanda Kondonassis's harp, the rhythmic buoyancy of Stare's conducting, and the cohesion of the orchestra achieve a kind of mystical alchemy. This is especially the case during the boisterous, at times cacophonous final movement, "Rap Knock." Patrick Harlin's "Rapture," also in a world premiere recording, proves that it's every bit the defiant orchestral showpiece it was when Stare and the RPO first performed it in 2016.
READ THE FULL Rochester City Newspaper REVIEW