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Sun Valley Music Festival Offers Online Harp Performance
Thursday, October 28, 2021


Sun Valley Music Festival Harp player Gretchen Van Hoesen will be featured in a free online concert at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29.

The concert, offered by the Sun Valley Music Festival, will be available to watch through 6:30 p.m. Nov. 5 on the Festival website at, YouTube channel and Facebook page.

The performance for solo harp is titled “5 Minutes That will Make You Love Harp Music.” It was recorded in Van Hoesen’s town of Pittsburgh. Van Hoesen will first perform “Quest” from “Quest-Reunion” by Gary Shocker, a composer, pianist and harpist renowned for his melodic style.

The second piece is composer/harpist David Watkins’s award-winning “Fire Dance” from “Petite Suite for Harp.” Its rhythmic, vivacious melodies were inspired by South American ritual dances and performed on the small Paraguayan harp.

“It has been great fun to record both these works,” said Van Hoesen. “In ‘Fire Dance,’ it is interesting to listen to the cross rhythms and syncopation of two beats against three beats, played at the same time. I learned this piece in my teens, have taught it to students regularly over the years, and it has been so enjoyable to play it again.”

Van Hoesen said that she attended the Julliard School of Music with ‘Quest’ composer Gary Shocker.

“ ‘Quest’ has beautiful melody lines and is an appropriate piece for our current times and our searching for answers amidst uncertainty,” she added.

Gretchen Van Hoesen has been playing with the Sun Valley Summer Symphony-turned Sun Valley Music Festival for 29 years, initially driving her 100-pound harp across country trying to avoid bumps in the road. Several years ago, the Music Festival purchased two harps so she no longer had to lug her own along.

Her father taught bassoon at the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music and Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Her grandfather taught at the Eastman School. Her mother is a cellist; her sister, first violinist with the San Francisco symphony.

Invented around 15,000 BC, the harp is one of the oldest instruments still played today. And it’s a finicky instrument. Playing the harp outdoors in Pittsburgh is not ideal because the humidity affects its tuning, Van Hoesen said. But harps love the dry conditions in Sun Valley.


The report, is available Friday at It includes video highlights from the summer season and Music Institute educational programs.

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