Stephanie Gustafson plays harp for Arts & Resilience

Arts & Resilience features Gustafson on harp
Written by: Roman Petrowski, Office of Communications

Harpist Stephanie Gustafson treated McGovern Medical School students, faculty, and staff to an afternoon of classical harp music at the January edition of the Arts & Resilience program Jan. 16.

Gustafson has served as the principal harpist with the Baton Rouge Symphony since August 2015 and regularly performs with the Houston Symphony and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra in New Orleans. Gustafson has also worked with the National Orchestra of Sweden under maestro Kurt Nagano as well as serving as the acting principal harpist of the Orquestra Filarmónica de Santiago, in Chile.

Gustafson opened her show with a piece from Claude Debussy titled “The Maid with the Flaxen Hair,” following that piece with “The Minstrel’s Adieu to his Native Land,” by Welsh composer John Thomas.

Gustafson explained that most harp music originates before the 1800s and was originally written for the piano. Music like the third piece she played, like Beethoven’s “Sonata in C-Minor Pathetique” was originally written for the harpsichord but translates well to the harp.

The harp has 47 strings and seven pedals, which is one pedal for every note in the octave. Gustafson explained that the footwork of the pedals is similar to the black keys played on a piano.

Gustafson wrapped her show with “Sarabanda e Toccata per arpa” by Nino Rota before finishing with four pieces of Carlos Salzedo’s “The Suite of Eight Dances.”

The next installment of the Arts & Resilience program features Erin Foster and the “Middle Eastern Music” at noon Feb. 20 in MSB 5.001. The program is sponsored by the Dean’s Office in collaboration with the McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics. For more information and a schedule, visit the program’s website here.