June 26th – July 3rd: American Harp Society’s 6th annual conference

June 26, 2022

1969: Eastman hosts the American Harp Society’s 6th annual conference

Renowned harpist-composer Marcel Grandjany with Eastman alumnus Robert Barlow during the conference, June, 1969

Three generations of harpists at the AHS 6th national conference, June, 1969: Eastman alumnus Robert Barlow with his mentor, Eileen Malone and her own mentor, Marcel Grandjany.
Three generations of harpists at the AHS 6th national conference, June, 1969: Eastman alumnus Robert Barlow with his mentor, Eileen Malone and her own mentor, Marcel Grandjany.

Fifty-three years ago this week, harp performance and pedagogy were much in evidence when the Eastman School hosted the American Harp Society’s sixth national conference, which took place on June 26th-29th, 1969.  The conference was chaired by faculty member Eileen Malone, Professor of Harp, and was attended by some 200 individuals, representing most of the nation’s major orchestras and music schools.  The official program book is displayed here, presenting program details for the conference events.

With its splendid facilities and abundant prestige, the Eastman School had been hosting professional conferences and meetings going back to the 1930s, some of the earliest ones being the joint convention of the National Association of Organists and the Canadian College of Organists in September, 1932; the 13th general convention of the American Guild of Organists in June, 1934; and the eighth annual meeting of the Music Library Association in November, 1939.  The Eastman School’s harp studio had been a recognized powerhouse training ground for decades, having been shaped and guided by Professors Lucile Johnson (1898-1992; served 1921-36) and Eileen Malone (1906-1999; served 1936-89).  Ms. Johnson (later Mrs. Lucile Rosenbloom) had studied in Paris with the renowned harpist-pedagogue Marcel Tournier (1879-1951), and Eileen Malone in the years following her graduation from Eastman (BM/PC ’28) had also studied with Tournier and then with the renowned Marcel Grandjany (1891-1975). Ms. Malone’s successor, Kathleen Bride, also studied with Mr. Grandjany, and enjoyed a collegial working relationship with him until his death.  Both Tournier and Grandjany rank as two of the most respected harpist-composers of the 20th century; their influence has been felt at Eastman right across the past century.  The American Harp Society was still a relatively new association when it met in Rochester in 1969, having only recently been founded in 1963.  The Eastman School’s recognition of the AHS via hosting its national conference once again confirmed Eastman as a center for harp performance and pedagogy.

Official program booklet for the 6th national conference of the American Harp Society. Eileen Malone Collection, box 23/folder 5.

Composer Alec Wilder and harpist Eileen Malone in conversation in the Eastman School’s Main Hall (today Lowry Hall) during the AHS 6th national conference, June, 1969.

Eastman School faculty members Verne Reynolds, Robert Sprenkle and Eileen Malone on-stage in Kilbourn Hall on the occasion of the premiere performance of Alec Wilder’s Suite for Harp, Oboe and French Horn, June 28th, 1969, at the 6th national conference of the American Harp Society.
Eastman School faculty members Verne Reynolds, Robert Sprenkle and Eileen Malone on-stage in Kilbourn Hall on the occasion of the premiere performance of Alec Wilder’s Suite for Harp, Oboe and French Horn, June 28th, 1969, at the 6th national conference of the American Harp Society.

There were three recitals, each in Kilbourn Hall, and two workshops. Social events included a cook-out at hosted by Eastman School Director Walter Hendl at the Director’s official residence, Hutchison House, 930 East Avenue (the neighboring property to Mr. Eastman’s house).  In addition, the conference was the setting for the finals of the National Harp Competition which the AHS sponsored.  The Competition encompassed five divisions of pedal harp performance; a first prize would be awarded in each.  Three Eastman-trained harpists, all pupils of Eileen Malone (two then-current students and one alumnus), won first prizes in their respective divisions  Karen Lindquist of Oxford, California won first prize in the Advanced Division; she would go on to study at the Juilliard School with Marcel Grandjany, and is today an accomplished concert harpist.  Rita Tursi (today Mrs. Rita Costanzi), also a pupil in Ms. Malone’s preparatory class and daughter of faculty member Francis Tursi, won in the Intermediate Division; she would later graduate from Eastman (BM ’76), and has enjoyed a thriving performing career.  The top division, the Young Professionals Division, offered as its first prize a New York debut recital at Carnegie Hall; it was won by Robert Barlow, BM ’61, who at this time was pursuing graduate studies at the Juilliard School (DMA ’70).

A concert of chamber music on Saturday evening, June 28th resembled something of an Eastman showcase, given that three of the programmed works were by composers with an Eastman School affiliation.  Images by faculty member Wayne Barlow (1912-1996), BM 1934, MM 1935, Ph.D. 1937, had been composed as a graduation present in 1961 for the composer’s son, harpist Robert Barlow, who had been the soloist in the work’s premiere performance as originally scored for harp and orchestra.  On this occasion, Images was performed in a chamber version featuring accompaniment by string quartet and clarinet.  Alec Wilder’s Suite for Harp, Oboe, and French Horn had been specially composed for Eastman’s Eileen Malone and was given its premiere performance in this recital by faculty members Eileen Malone, Robert Sprenkle, and Verne Reynolds.  Mr. Wilder (1907-1980), a native Rochesterian and born into a socially prominent Rochester family, had studied at Eastman in the 1920s before leaving without completing a degree; he eventually achieved renowned as a prolific composer of popular song and of cross-over works in traditional classical forms.  The original parts for the Suite for Harp, Oboe and French Horn, accompanied by pages of Mr. Wilder’s autograph pencil sketches, reside in the Eileen Malone Collection in the Sibley Music Library.  Finally, the Prelude and Dance for harp and clarinet by Walter Mourant (1911-1995), BM ’35, MM ’36, was the second work to be premiered in this recital.  Altogether, eight Eastman School faculty members were featured performers that evening:  harpist Eileen Malone, oboist Robert Sprenkle, French hornist Verne Reynolds, violinists Carroll Glenn and Anastasia Jempelis, clarinetist Stanley Hasty, violoncellist Alan Harris, and violinist Francis Tursi.

The renowned harpist-composer Marcel Grandjany, one of the founders of the American Harp Society, was in attendance at the Conference.  He appears in several of the Louis Ouzer photographs displayed here.

Professor Eileen Malone received two professional accolades at the conference: a citation from the American Harp Society for her contributions to the development of interest in the harp in America; and also a silver bowl, the gift of her first three graduated students: Dorothy Remsen, Doris Johnson, and Marilyn Baxter.

Composers Alec Wilder and Wayne Barlow in conversation in the Eastman School’s Main Hall (today Lowry Hall) during the AHS 6th national conference, June, 1969. One might well caption this photo “Mr. Anti-Establishment meets Mr. Establishment,” for such would accurately capture each man’s position and outlook. Mr. Wilder dropped out of university studies and pursued his own professional path as a free spirit unencumbered by allegiance to any employer or association or any other entity; Dr. Barlow was the academic prototype, serving as a longtime professor, administrator, and associate dean.

Performers on-stage in Kilbourn Hall for Images by Wayne Barlow, June 28th, 1969. Harpist Suzanne Thomas is assisted by strings players Carroll Glenn, Anastasia Jempelis, Francis Tursi, and Alan Harris and clarinettist Stanley Hasty. American Harp Society 6th national conference.
Performers on-stage in Kilbourn Hall for Images by Wayne Barlow, June 28th, 1969. Harpist Suzanne Thomas is assisted by strings players Carroll Glenn, Anastasia Jempelis, Francis Tursi, and Alan Harris and clarinettist Stanley Hasty. American Harp Society 6th national conference.

Publications consulted and/or cited:

“Top U.S. harpists to perform here.”  Rochester Times-Union, June 24, 1969.  Rochester Scrapbook May-September 1969, pages 60-61.  Sibley Music Library.

“Harp conference and contest at Eastman.”  Notes from Eastman, vol. III, no. 3 (June, 1969), page 7.  Eastman School of Music Archives.

“’Compulsion to play’ harp pays of at Top of Plaza.”  Rochester Times-Union, July 11, 1969.  Rochester Scrapbook May-September 1969, page 96.  Sibley Music Library.

“Three Eastman harpists take contest honors.”  Notes from Eastman, vol. IV, no. 1 (October, 1969), pages 8 and 9.  Eastman School of Music Archives.

The Weekly Dozen

In this week’s “Weekly Dozen” we recognize recitals by summer faculty members, including a voice recital by Russian-born Nicolas Konraty (served 1929-57), appropriately programming Russian operatic and vocal repertory, and a recital by the Jazz Faculty Quartet;  two recitals by woodwind quintets, one by the visiting New York Woodwind Quintet (not the ensemble of the same name that is today in residence at the Juilliard School) and one by Eastman faculty members;  a performance by the regularly appearing jazz ensemble of faculty member Dave Rivello;  a performance of J. S. Bach’s monumental The Art of Fugue by organist Dr. Klaus Speer, curator of rare books in the Sibley Music Library (served 1965-76), which might lead one to ponder whether Dr. Speer used the copy of the first edition of The Art of Fugue  that the Sibley Music Library has owned since 1929;  and finally, some superlative student performances such as grace the Eastman School’s concert calendar in any given week.

June 30, 1925

1925 June 30th

July 2, 1931

1931 July 2

June 30, 1932

1932 June 30

July 1, 1937

1937 July 1

June 29, 1950

1950 June 29

July 2, 1962

1962 July 2

June 27, 1967

July 1 1986 

July 1, 2003

June 30, 2006

June 27, 2011

June 28, 2011

Sep 26th-Oct 2nd: Howard Hanson at the UNESCO Fourth General Conference.

Seventy-three years ago this week, in late September, 1949, Eastman School Director Howard Hanson was in Paris serving as a U.S. delegate to the Fourth General Conference of UNESCO. 

School opens, David Burge, Verne Reynolds and The Weekly Dozen

On September 19th, 1921, the Eastman School of Music opened its doors for instruction and welcomed students into the building.

Gateways, Howard Hanson Plaza, and more firsts

On September 10th, 1995, the third annual Gateways Music Festival concluded with a gala concert in the Eastman Theater…

Eastman Theatre Grand Opening

On Monday September 4th, 1922, which happened also to be Labor Day, the Eastman Theater was opened to the public for the first time.