We are very pleased to present Harp Virtuoso featuring Catherine Yom Litaker, harpist, on Sunday, March 3, 4 p.m. at Pear Valley Estate Wine.

Catherine Yom Litaker is a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral harpist. She has performed across the globe including Western Europe, South and North America and Asia. She has performed with many orchestras including Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Diego Symphony, Chicago Philharmonic, Dubuque Symphony and Quad City Symphony Orchestra.

Ms. Litaker is a founding member of the Chicago Harp Quartet, a dynamic group aiming to expand the repertoire and exposure of the harp by bringing a high level of harp chamber music to the stage. Here is a video of Catherine and the Quartet:

As an avid promoter of new music, she is often working with composers on new works for the harp and has performed with the University of Chicago New Music Ensemble. Catherine has also been featured on season 3 and 4 of FOX’s hit TV show, Empire.

We asked Catherine a few questions about her early introduction to the harp and the upcoming Harp Virtuoso concert. Enjoy!

When did you start playing the harp and how did that happen? Did your family own a harp?

I actually started on piano first when I was a tiny 4 year old! A little before age 7, my mother decided she wanted to finally take the harp lessons that she had always dreamed of. After about a month of having a harp in the house, I was begging to plunge in and take lessons myself. Eventually my mother quit, but I continued on and haven’t stopped since!

What is it about the harp that you find enjoyable?
I think many people don’t realize that the sound world of the harp can be so special. I have to admit, it is much easier to absorb it’s sounds in a smaller setting which is why I personally love chamber music so much.

The harp can be many things; dark and mysterious, airy and magical and everything in between. I love the range of sound and magnitude of sound effects that I can get on the harp and, depending on the chamber combination, the harp can act as a soloist. It can offer support or provide special effects.

Tell us about your harp. I hear there is some history behind it.
Well, I have many harps! 🙂 But specifically I have 2 pedal harps, which are the largest size – the type you see in symphony orchestras.

I got my first pedal harp when I was 13 years old when my mother made me promise to play forever if she bought it for me. When it came, I was physically too little to reach the pedals. For the first year or so, I had to sit on phone books (back when those existed) and could barely change the pedals with my tippy toes.

A couple years ago I purchased my second pedal harp which is the one you will see at the Harp Virtuoso concert. There is a world famous harp design company in Chicago called Lyon and Healy. I was there helping a friend choose a harp and fell in the love with the sound of this one, so I decided I had to get it!

You are an advocate for exposing children to the world of classical music. Why is this important to you?
I think learning music in general is very valuable for children. In addition to harp, I also teach beginning piano. I believe every child can benefit from learning to read music or understanding music in some way. I could list off so many reasons why music is good for children, but I truly believe that it helps expand their abilities as young individuals and aids in their growth.

What is special about the music for Harp Virtuoso?
I am especially excited about this recital because it will be filled with my favorite pieces! I was allowed to program to my heart’s content so I not only had the audience in mind, but selfishly, myself! The listeners will get a wide variety of sounds, classics, a few new music pieces and will hopefully learn a little more about the harp in the process.

I’m also very excited to be playing with two very accomplished musicians. Hilary Clark is an amazing cellist and organizer extraordinaire! If you haven’t heard her yet, you’re going to love her sound. Juan Rivera is an incredibly dynamic flutist whom I have challenged to perform some new music with me! It is going to be a really wonderful and fun concert!

Harp Virtuoso is Sunday, March 3, 4 p.m. at Pear Valley Estate Wine, 4900 Union Road, Paso Robles. Buy your tickets below or at the door. Tickets are $15 – $30, and children K-12 are free with a paid adult.

We are very thankful for our sponsors: Karen Willer and Steve Peterson, Joe and Jill Fariss, and Jim and Carolyn Brescia.

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