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Yolanda Kondonassis premieres new harp concerto by Jennifer Higdon on 'American Rapture' / New Classical Tracks

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New Classical Tracks is a Syndicated feature heard national on Classical 24 and Statewide via Minnesota Public Radio. LISTEN TO THE SEGMENT & READ THE TRANSCRIPT

Yolanda Kondonassis has played a lot of contemporary harp concertos. Her new recording, American Rapture, features the world premiere of one written especially for her by American composer Jennifer Higdon. "I've played a lot of contemporary music where it's been more, sort of, a catalog of special effects. But the way she's used the special effects on the harp are very idiomatic, and I actually get to play virtuosic, fun, colorful things on the harp strings."

That's one reason Yolanda is so excited about this new release. The other is her collaborators, Ward Stare and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. The ensemble is part of a consortium of orchestras that helped to commission the work. Ward says it's the centerpiece of this recording, which is a celebration of American composers past and present. "When we were discussing repertoire options to pair with Jennifer's new concerto, I think rather quickly we got the idea that, wouldn't it be wonderful to look at different generations of American sound. I immediately thought of Barber, and the First Symphony is a piece that I love and I've done all over the place with many different orchestras. It's got all the dramatic power and punch of a Mahler symphony in just a little over 20 minutes. And I also thought it was important to feature the newest generation of American voices, and that's what Patrick Harlin's piece represents, and Rapture is, again, a wonderfully compact piece because there's a lot there in about eight minutes."