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Pittsburgh Harp Duo Releases Setlist

The Pittsburgh Harp Duo of Gretchen Van Hoesen and Natalie Severson have released their setlist for the 7 p.m. April 13 performance in the Saint Vincent Concert Series.

The duo will begin with Ancient Airs and Dances for Lute by Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936), Trans. S. Shaloupka, with Ballet “Count Orlando,” Villanella and Gagliarda.

Following that will come Blue, Midnight, Silver and Carnival from Heavens Above by Gary Shocker; then Van Hoesen will perform the Prélude, Valse et Rigaudon by Reynaldo Hahn (1874-1947).

Following a brief intermission, the harpists will perform Duo Op. 11 by Jan Ladislav Dussek (1760-1812), Allegro con espressione, Romance, Larghetto, and Rondo, Allegro. That will be followed by Towards the Sun by Andres Izmaylov (b. 1974); Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy (1962-1918), arr. by J. Escosa; Féerie, Prélude and Dance for solo harp by Marcel Tournier (1879-1951), performed by Van Hoesen.

Gretchen Van Hoesen has been principal harpist of the Pittsburgh Symphony since 1977. She has appeared as soloist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra on numerous occasions, both on the subscription series and on tour. Van Hoesen gave the New York premiere of the Alberto Ginastera Harp Concerto in 1976 and the Pittsburgh premiere in 1978. She has appeared as soloist with conductors André Previn, Lorin Maazel, James Conlon, Zdnek Macal, Sergiu Comissiona, Pinchas Zukerman and Manfred Honeck, and has collaborated with flutists James Galway, Bernard Goldberg, Jean-Pierre Rampal and Emmanuel Pahud. Additional appearances with the Pittsburgh Symphony have included performances of the Handel Concerto in B flat, Danses Sacré et Profane by Debussy, Concierto Serenata by Joaquin Rodrigo and the Concerto for Harp by Rheinhold Gliere. 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 on the Pittsburgh Symphony subscription series. During the 1990-1991 season, Van Hoesen was featured soloist in the Peggy Stuart Coolidge Rhapsody for Harp and Orchestra for the Pittsburgh Symphony Pops series and gave the U.S. premiere of Suite Concertante for solo harp and orchestra by Manuel Moreno-Buendia in San Antonio, Texas. In March 2008, she presented the world premiere of Sir André Previn’s Concerto for Harp on the Pittsburgh Symphony subscription series. The North American premiere of Concert Piece, Op. 65 for Oboe/English horn, Two Harps and Orchestra by Eugene Goossens closed the orchestra’s subscription season in June 2012, and she performed the piece again with the Louisiana Philharmonic in 2014.

Van Hoesen has also been soloist with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the National Orchestral Association, the Greenwich Philharmonia and the Westmoreland Symphony. She has concertized in the metropolitan New York area at Carnegie Recital Hall, Alice Tully Hall and the Brooklyn Museum, and has presented concertos at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington. Van Hoesen was winner of the 1978 Passamaneck Competition and appeared in recital at the Y Music Series of the Pittsburgh Jewish Community Center. Van Hoesen has been a recitalist throughout the Pittsburgh area at Duquesne University, Carnegie Mellon University, Chatham College, Carlow College, Shadyside Concerts, Pittsburgh Chamber Music Project, Rodef Shalom series, California University of Pennsylvania, Slippery Rock University, Heinz Hall Chamber Series, the Renaissance City Winds series, Geneva College, the Frick Art Museum and the Pittsburgh Peace Institute. She has been a featured soloist at American Harp Society National Conferences in Boston, Pittsburgh, San Antonio, Washington, D.C., Fredonia, NY, and New Orleans.

Van Hoesen graduated from the Juilliard School of Music earning both B.M. and M.M. degrees in harp as a scholarship student of Marcel Grandjany and Susann McDonald. She is also a graduate of the Eastman School of Music Preparatory Department with highest honors in piano and harp, where she was a student of Eileen Malone. She further studied with Gloria Agostini.

Her credentials as an orchestral musician include performing as Principal Harp in the New York Lyric Opera, the New York City Ballet, the National Orchestral Association, the Greenwich Philharmonia, the Pittsburgh Opera and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, the Lake Placid Sinfonietta, the Spoleto Festival Orchestra (Italy), the Virginia Opera, the Sun Valley Summer Symphony and the Jeunesses Musicales Orchestra (Germany). She presently holds the Virginia Campbell endowed Principal Harp Chair of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Van Hoesen was selected to perform in Tokyo and Osaka, Japan, in the Super World Orchestra 2000, an orchestra made up of key musicians from around the globe. She has been a featured soloist at numerous American Harp Society National Conferences, has served as a judge for National Competitions of the American Harp Society and as president of the organization’s Pittsburgh Chapter. Van Hoesen served as a coach for the 2015 National Youth Orchestra of the United States and was selected as the inaugural Harp Forum editor for the American String Teacher and harp master class clinician at the ASTA National Conference in 2016.

In 1985, the recording Lullabies and Night Songs was released on the Caedmon label featuring Jan DeGaetani, soprano; Van Hoesen, harp; and instrumental ensemble. Van Hoesen collaborated with her father, bassoonist K. David Van Hoesen, and singer Jan DeGaetani in a recording of the Phyllis McGinley Song Cyclewritten for them by the late Alec Wilder. In the 1990-1991 season, Van Hoesen performed the world premiere of Blues for Harp, Oboe, and Violoncello by Lawrence Hoffman and presented a master class and oboe/harp duo recital in Taipei, Taiwan.

Pavanes, Pastorales, and Serenades for Oboe and Harp was issued in December 1998 with critical raves from around the country. Van Hoesen collaborated with conductor Rossen Milanov to record the Gliere and Jongen Harp Concertos and Buendiá’s Suite Concertante with the New Symphony Orchestra in Sofia, Bulgaria.  These performances are available on Boston Records.  Recent CDs by Van Hoesen include Trio Pittsburgh with Noah Bendix-Balgley and Anne Martindale Williams and Genetic Harps with her daughter Heidi Van Hoesen Gorton, principal harpist of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Soon to be released is a violin and harp CD with Gretchen Van Hoesen and former PSO Concertmaster Andres Cardenes.

Van Hoesen is a faculty member at Carnegie Mellon and Duquesne universities and combines teaching there with private students at her home in Pittsburgh. She has given master classes at Duquesne University, the Eastman School of Music, The Curtis Institute of Music, Manhattan School of Music, the University of Illinois, the Aspen Music Festival and the National University of the Arts in Seoul, Korea, and has been an artist-lecturer on numerous series in Pittsburgh as well as throughout the country.

She was a faculty member of the Aspen Music Festival and School from 2001 to 2006. Her students have won numerous national and international awards and prizes.

Severson, who is joining Van Hoesen, is an accomplished harp soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral performer based in Pittsburgh. She is the 2017 second-prize winner in the American Harp Society’s National Competition in the Young Professional Division and was also awarded Major Artist status with the Pittsburgh Concert Society in Spring 2017.

Severson has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the New World Symphony, and the Pittsburgh Opera Orchestra. She has worked with such esteemed conductors as Gustavo Dudamel, Manfred Honeck, Yan Pascal Tortelier, and Péter Eötvös. 

A passionate advocate for new music, Severson is a founding member of NAT 28, a Pittsburgh music collaborative. She has performed and premiered works by composers such as David Stock, Reza Vali and Erberk Eryilmaz. In February 2016, she premiered Jean-Patrick Besingrand’s harp concerto, Sur les ailes du temps, with the Carnegie Mellon Contemporary Ensemble. 

Severson earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in harp performance at Carnegie Mellon University, studying with PSO principal harpist Gretchen Van Hoesen. In 2014, she performed Ginastera’s Harp Concerto with the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic as the winner of the School of Music’s Concerto Competition. As an undergraduate, she majored in both harp performance and French & francophone studies, traveling to Courchevel, France on a scholarship from the Vira I. Heinz Program for Women in Global Leadership. 

Severson performs regularly with Pittsburgh-based ensembles Incidental Chamber Players and Resonance Works, and enjoys playing in the pit orchestra for the Pittsburgh CLO’s A Musical Christmas Carol every December. She is adjunct harp professor at Chatham University and teaches in Carnegie Mellon’s summer preparatory school as well as maintaining a private studio of students of all ages. A Minneapolis native, Severson lives in Pittsburgh with her harp, Sir William. She enjoys running, hot yoga, and reading and talking about books.