Sarofim School of Fine Arts

Guest Recital: American Harp Quartet

7:00pm - 8:00pm CDT April 1, 2015

Alma Thomas Theater

The program will include works by George Gershwin, Alphonse Hasselmans, Alberto Dominguez, Nilo Menéndez, Franz Liszt, Frédéric Chopin, Kurt Weill, Cole Porter, Astor Piazzolla, Maria Grever, Willi Huber Maerz, Joe Garland, and Jerry Gray.

Free and open to the public.


Comprised of harpists from the continental U.S., the American Harp Quartet formed to herald a new era of harp quartet music.The quartet performs a wide variety of music of the highest level including swing, Latin jazz, and works from the classical repertoire. The quartet includes Ellie Choate, Delaine Fedson Leonard, Leslie Stratton, and Jacquelyn Venter.

Ellie Choate is one of the most renowned harpists in Southern California’s vibrant musical scene. Choate’s musical versatility has afforded her the opportunity to touch virtually every area of music making. She is as likely to be found in the opera or symphony orchestra as on stage with show orchestras backing headline artists. She has worked “behind the scenes” on the musical scores of numerous major motion pictures and recordings and has also appeared on camera for movies and television shows. She is an active soloist and chamber musician, playing for events and concerts all across Southern and Central California. Choate graduated with a Master of Arts in Harp Performance with Marjorie Call at CSU Long Beach. In addition to her private studio, she is on the applied faculty at UC Irvine, CSU Fullerton, The Cole Conservatory at CSU Long Beach, and El Camino College. She has produced four CDs of her classical, pop and jazz arrangements for solo harp. Currently, she is recording a series of CDs with theremin player, Blake Jones, and percussionist, John Shafer. Ellie has long been committed to helping the harp world thrive and grow. She has served as president and corresponding secretary of the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Harp Society, president of the Greater Los Angeles Area Section of the American String Teachers Association, and Vice President of the AHS.

DelainFedsoLeonaris a vibrant musician and innovative educator in Austin, Texas, whose performance has been described by the composer Ned Rorem as “luscious in texture, poignant in evocation.” She currently teaches at the University of Texas Butler School of Music, Southwestern University, and Austin Suzuki Harp Studio. She previously was on the faculties of Baylor and Winthrop Universities, has performed with orchestras, opera companies, and chamber groups throughout Central Texas, and is a veteran of regional tours with national touring acts. She is the immediate past President of the American Harp Society, Inc. and a co-­‐author of the ASTA publication “A Harp in the Schools.” As a ground breaking Suzuki Harp teacher and Suzuki Harp Teacher Trainer, Fedson Leonard was the founding director of the nonprofit Young Texas Harp Ensemble, continues to serve on the Suzuki Repertoire Committee, and teaches at national and international Suzuki festivals and workshops throughout the year.

LesliStrattois currently the principal harpist with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra in Dayton Ohio. Each year, she performs numerous solo concerts across the country for arts organizations, churches and schools. She has performed with many orchestras including the Spokane Symphony, Cleveland Ballet and Opera, Missoula Symphony, Pacific Symphony and many others. Stratton has recently been a featured soloist with several orchestras including the Dayton Philharmonic, Spokane Symphony, and Coeur d’Alene Symphony. She has also performed for numerous recordings, movie soundtracks and CD projects. Stratton has produced four solo recordings. She organizes and directs ‘Harps of Grace,’ an ensemble of 14 harpists who were recently featured with the Dayton Philharmonic. Formerly, she in directed ‘Ladies of the Lake’ and organized the ‘Inland Northwest Harp Festival’ in Idaho. Having students from ages 6 to 90 inspires Stratton to write and arrange harp solo and ensemble music for a variety of ability levels and interests. She has always maintained a private teaching studio, and has taught at Cedarville University, University of Idaho, Eastern Washington University, North Idaho College, Whitworth College, and Walla Walla College.

JacquelyVenteis an active performer and teacher. Venter has been featured as a guest-­‐artist with the grammy-­‐winning choir ensemble, Conspirare. Their album Samuel Barber: an American Romantic debuted at number ten on the Billboard Charts. Venter had an active career in Iowa as principal harpist for the Waterloo/Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, South East Iowa, and the Central Iowa Symphony Orchestras. Her 2009 performance at the Crème de la Crème Benefit Concert for the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center was highly praised and reviewed as, “lovely, meditative and exquisitely played.” Venter has been on the faculty at Luther College, the UNI Suzuki School, University of Texas String Project, Longhorn Music Camp, Round Rock Independent School District, and served as director of the Young Texas Harp Ensemble. She has a doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin. She has since relocated to Sacramento, California and continues her career performing with the Folsom Symphony and teaching at William Jessup University.


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