Jane Yoon, harp

Q+A with Jane Yoon

Jane Yoon has performed as a soloist and competition winner on radio and television features, recordings, and stages around the world. TCS welcomes Jane on Friday, March 11, performing the Dohnányi Concertino for Harp and Orchestra.

TCS: Tell us a little bit about yourself!
JY: I was born in Concord, Massachusetts, and raised in Seoul, Korea until I was 13, then lived in Bloomington, Indiana before moving to NYC. I fell in love with the harp at
six years old when I first saw the instrument. My mom's friend was my first harp teacher and she found me an old Semi-Grand harp I could start on.
I was named the youngest winner of two international harp competitions and enjoyed a career as a soloist, also releasing the album "Jane Yoon Plays Masters" in 2004. After completing my Artist Diploma and Bachelors degree at Indiana University, I moved to NYC in 2008 to start a Masters of Music program at Juilliard. After moving to the city, I've been freelancing as a chamber musician, orchestral harpist, and teaching in the metropolitan area.

I have been married for two and a half years, and recently adopted a chihuahua named "Pickles." When I'm not playing the harp I enjoy cooking, skiing, and traveling.

TCS: When was your first TCS concert?
JY: In 2010 when The Chelsea Symphony performed Symphony in Three movements by Stravinsky. I remember being terrified after finding out there isn't an elevator in the church to move harp up the stairs! Fortunately I found a harp mover who can lift my instrument up those stairs and it's been much easier.

TCS: What brought you to the group?
JY: I was introduced to the group by Yaniv Segal, the former conducting member of the orchestra. We met at the Castleton Festival the summer before, and I was still in school when I first performed with the group. When Yaniv suggested that I play for the orchestra, I was very excited because I was looking for opportunities to play orchestral repertoire, other than through school groups. Besides, who can say no when given a chance to play Stravinsky?

TCS: Why do you like coming back?
JY: The repertoire was the main draw in the beginning but the more I play, the more I'm impressed with the multi-talented members of the group. It's quite amazing to witness how involved the musicians are in the whole operations of this group, and I've been very much inspired by the members who can compose or pursue different careers during the day, and still show up in the evening and play at such a high caliber.

TCS: Where would you like to see the group go?
JY: I would love to see the group continue on with the current culture of performing traditional repertoire and integrating newly composed pieces into the program, but also expand its scope of performance venues to where we can reach more audiences throughout various neighborhoods. I would love to see the members of the orchestra forming different chamber groups to collaborate with each other in more dimensions, and perform even at non-traditional venues.
[Editors note: we also hope to find spaces with elevators!]

TCS: Why did you pick this piece to perform with us?
JY: Because French composers dominate harp repertoire, I always look for pieces composed by a non-French composer to get a different color. This is one of the less frequently performed pieces for harp and orchestra that deserves to be played more! I'm amazed how Dohnányi understood the mechanisms of the harp and displayed most of the techniques used in the harp through the piece. I just wish he had written more pieces for the harp. Dohnányi is such a wonderful musician who mastered the art of piano performance and conducting in addition to composing. I love the fact that he kept the traditional French color for the harp but still portrayed Hungarian influence in his composition.

TCS: What are some of the things you learned while preparing? Was there anything you learned that you didn’t expect to encounter?
JY: It was surprising to learn how little indication was written in the score. It was like a blank canvas with so much freedom for me to explore and I loved the challenge of it. Also every edition had different notes and key signatures so it took me a while to figure them out.

TCS: Do you have any favorite recordings of this piece?
JY: I enjoyed listening to the recording of the American Symphony Orchestra featuring harpist Sara Cutler and conductor Leon Botstein. Besides the Concertino for Harp, this album includes a chamber piece and solo piano piece composed by Dohnányi so it gives you a good idea about this composer.

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Join us as TCS welcomes harpist Jane Yoon on Friday, March 11, at 8:30pm at St. Paul's Church, 315 W. 22nd Street, performing the Dohnányi Concertino for Harp and Orchestra!