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Musical World

Yolanda Kondonassis

  • Harpist


Yolanda Kondonassis: This season sees Telarc International’s release of Bright Sheng’s Never Far Away, a concerto for harp and orchestra. Composed for and premiered by Ms. Kondonassis, the concerto was underwritten by and performed last season with the San Diego Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, the Grand Rapids Symphony and Oberlin Conservatory of Music. A devoted advocate to environmental literacy, Ms. Kondonassis published a children’s book in 2010 to mark the fortieth anniversary of Earth Day: Our House is Round; A Kid’s Book About Why Protecting the Earth Matters.
As a Telarc recording artist, praised by Gramophone magazine for the “clarity, colour, and rhythmic vitality of [her] playing”, Ms. Kondonassis has won universal critical acclaim for her fifteen discs, which include much of the standard repertoire, as well as her own transcriptions and compositions for harp. With over 100,000 albums sold worldwide, her recent environmentally-themed album, Air, featuring works by Debussy and Toro Takemitsu, received a 2009 GRAMMY nomination. Other recordings include Salzedo’s Harp; Debussy’s Harp; The Romantic Harp; her own (and the first-ever) harp transcription of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons with the Orchestra of Flanders; an all-Hovhaness album, featuring the world premiere recording of his Spirit of Trees; Quietude; A New Baroque; Pictures of the Floating World; Dream Season; Sky Music; and her debut album, Scintillation. Her recording of Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp, with flutist Renée Krimsier and the English Chamber Orchestra, was released on the Channel Classics label.
A devoted chamber musician, Ms. Kondonassis has performed at the Marlboro, Spoleto, Tanglewood, Vail, Bay Chamber, Strings in the Mountains, Innsbrook, and Mainly Mozart Festivals. She has collaborated with members of the Alban Berg, Guarneri, Shanhai, and Vermeer string quartets. She completed a recent tour of New Zealand with the Still/Chase/Kondonassis Trio, and appears regularly in concert with the Rossetti String Quartet, with violinist Chee-Yun, and flutist and CBS commentator, Eugenia Zukerman.
As an author, composer, and arranger, Ms. Kondonassis has published four books including Our House is Round. Educational books include On Playing the Harp, a comprehensive guide to harp technique and methodology that has quickly become a standard in the harp pedagogy literature; The Yolanda Kondonassis Collection, a compilation of her many original transcriptions, arrangements and compositions for the harp; and The Yolanda Kondonassis Christmas Collection, featuring Ms. Kondonassis’ most popular arrangements from her acclaimed disc, Dream Season: The Christmas Harp. All of Ms. Kondonassis’ educationalworks are published by Carl Fischer Music.
Her long list of national and international honors includes top prizes in the Affiliate Artists National Auditions in New York and the Maria Korchinska International Harp Competition in Great Britain. The first harpist to receive the Darius Milhaud Prize, she is committed to the advancement of contemporary music through both the performance and commissioning of new works for the harp. The recipient of two Solo Recitalists Grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Ms. Kondonassis has been featured on CNN and PBS television as well as National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, St. Paul Sunday Morning, and Performance Today. In addition to her active performing and recording schedule, Ms. Kondonassis heads the harp departments at The Cleveland Institute of Music and Oberlin College Conservatory, and has presented master classes around the world.
Ms. Kondonassis was born in Norman, Oklahoma, where she began studying the harp at age 9. She attended high school at Interlochen Arts Academy and continued her education at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees as a student of Alice Chalifoux.