Harp of Ages for solo harp and orchestra (2023) | Michael Daugherty, composer

Harp of Ages
for solo harp and orchestra (2023)

  1. Sappho
  2. Sister Juana’s Hymn
  3. Uhura’s Song
  4. David’s Prayer
  5. Harpo Speaks
  6. Detroit Blue
  7. Irish Wedding

World Premiere: May 12, 2023 | Courtney Hershey Bress, solo harp, with the Colorado Symphony | Conducted by Andrew Litton |  Boettcher Concert Hall, Denver Performing Arts Complex

Piccolo/Alto Flute
English Horn
Bb Clarinet
Bb Bass Clarinet
2 F Horns (Brass Stop mute, straight metal mute)
2 C Trumpets (straight metal and harmon mute, stem out)

Percussion; 2 players (instruments are not shared):

Percussion 1:
Glockenspiel, plastic and “Magic Flute” mallets
Marimba, hard yarn mallets
Vibraphone, medium hard yarn mallets and bow
Large Shaker
2 Woodblocks, hard mallets
Percussion 2:
2 Triangles, large and small, on stand
Metal Wind Chimes
Castanets, on stand
Large Whip
Finger Cymbals
Concert Bass Drum
Suspended Cymbal, yarn mallets

Solo Harp (slight amplification recommended)

Duration: 30 minutes

Composer’s Note:

Harp of Ages (2023) for harp and orchestra was commissioned by the Colorado Symphony for Principal Harpist,
Courtney Hershey Bress. The world premiere was given by Courtney Hershey Bress, solo harp, with the Colorado
Symphony conducted by Andrew Litton , at the Boettcher Concert Hall, Denver Performing Arts Complex on May 12,

The harp is one of the oldest and most beautiful instruments, from early civilizations to the present. Like the seven
pedals on the modern harp, my concerto is divided into seven movements that reflect on many ages of the harp.
Each movement is associated with a memorable figure associated with the harp:

  1. Sappho Leaps
    Sappho (seventh century BC): a Greek lyric poet who played the harp and (according to ancient lore) leaped from a
  2.  Sister Juana’s Hymn
    Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz (1648-1695): a Mexican nun who became famous as a poet, scholar and composer of music
    accompanied by harp
  3. Uhura’s Song
    Nyoata Uhura (ca. 23rd century): fictional character from Africa, and communications officer on the USS Enterprise,
    who sang and played the harp on the original Star Trek television series (1964-1967)
  4. David’s Prayer
    David (ca. 1000 BC): young shepherd from the Old Testament who played the harp to soothe the spirits of King Saul
  5. Harpo Speaks
    Harpo Marx (1888-1954): mute member of the Marx Brothers comedy team who played the harp in their numerous
    Hollywood films of the 1930s and 1940s.
  6. Detroit Blue
    Dorothy Ashby (1932-1986) and Alice Coltrane (1937-2007): innovators of the jazz harp from Detroit, Michigan
  7. Irish Wedding
    Since the thirteen century, the Irish harp been associated with songs of war, dance and weddings. As the heraldic
    symbol of Ireland, the harp has been championed by Irish harpists from Turlough O’ Carolan

– Michael Daugherty (2023)

Colorado Symphony Principal Harpist, Courtney Hershey Bress, and Composer Michael Daugherty
Sappho (630-570 BC)
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1648-1695)
Nyoata Uhura (ca. 23rd century)
David (ca. 1000 BCE)
Harpo Marx (1888-1954)
Dorothy Ashby (1932-1986)
Alice Coltrane (1937-2007)
Turlough O’ Carolan (d.1738)
Mary O’Hara (b. 1935)