The 47th season of the Saint Vincent College Concert Series will wrap up with a performance by harpists Gretchen Van Hoesen and Natalie Severson at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 13, in the Saint Vincent Basilica Crypt.
The principal harpist of the Pittsburgh Symphony since 1977, Van Hoesen has enjoyed a distinguished music career, having performed as a soloist with such conductors as Sir André Previn, Lorin Maazel and James Conlon as well as collaborating with flutists James Galway, Bernard Goldberg and Emmanuel Pahud. In 1985, Van Hoesen and her husband, former Pittsburgh Symphony co-principal oboe James Gorton, presented the Pittsburgh premiere of Witold Lutoslawski’s “Double Concerto for Oboe, Harp and Chamber Orchestra.” During the 1990-91 season, she was featured soloist in the Peggy Stuart Coolidge “Rhapsody for Harp and Orchestra” for the Pittsburgh Symphony Pops Series, while in 2008, she presented the world premiere of Previn’s “Concerto for Harp” on the Pittsburgh Symphony subscription series.
Van Hoesen has also performed as a soloist with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the National Orchestral Association, the Greenwich Philharmonic and the Westmoreland Symphony and has played in a number of world-class venues, including the Carnegie Recital Hall and Alice Tully Hall in New York, Philadelphia’s Academy of Music and the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. As an orchestral musician, she has performed as principal harp in the New York City Ballet, the National Orchestral Association, the Pittsburgh Opera, the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater and the Spoleto (Italy) Festival Orchestra, and in 2000, she was selected to perform in Tokyo and Osaka, Japan, in the Super World Orchestra 2000, an orchestra made up of renowned musicians from across the globe.
Van Hoesen graduated from Julliard, earning both B.M. and M.M. degrees in harp while also graduating from the Eastman School of Music Preparatory Department with highest honors in both harp and piano. She is a faculty member at both Carnegie Mellon and Duquesne University, and in addition to private lessons, has taught master classes at the Eastman School of Music, the Curtis Institute of Music, Manhattan School of Music, the University of Illinois and the National University of the Arts in Seoul, South Korea. From 2001–06, she was a faculty member of the Aspen Music Festival and School, with her students winning numerous awards, both nationally and internationally.
Severson is regarded as one of the top up-and-coming harpists in the world. In 2017, she took second prize in the Young Professional Division of the America Harp Society’s National Competition while later that same year, she was awarded Major Artist status with the Pittsburgh Concert Society. She has performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the New World Symphony and the Pittsburgh Opera Orchestra, working with such esteemed conductors as Gustavo Dudamel, Manfred Honeck, Yan Pascal Tortelier and Péter Eotovos.
She is a passionate advocate for new music and is a founding member of NAT 28, a Pittsburgh music collaborative. Severson has performed and premiered works by composers such as David Stock, Reza Vali and Erbeck Eryilmaz, and in February 2016, she premiered Jean-Patrick Besingrand’s harp concerto “Sur les ailes du temps” with the Carnegie Mellon Contemporary Ensemble.
Severson earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in harp performance from Carnegie Mellon University, primarily studying under Van Hoesen. In 2014, she was named winner of the Carnegie Mellon School of Music’s Concerto Competition and performed Ginastera’s Harp Concerto with the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic. She regularly plays with Pittsburgh’s Incidental Chamber Players and Resonance Works and enjoys playing in the pit orchestra for Pittsburgh Civic Light Orchestra’s “A Musical Christmas Carol” each year. She is an adjunct harp professor at Chatham University and teaches in Carnegie Mellon’s summer preparatory school, while also maintaining a private studio of students of all ages.
Following the performance, attendees are invited to a free meet-and-greet reception with Van Hoesen and Severson in the Saint Vincent Parish Assembly Room.
Single tickets are available for $26, while group discounts are available for parties of 10 or more. College and high school students with valid ID, as well as children under 12 with adult supervision, are admitted for free. For additional information and to order tickets call 724-805-2177.