About the American Harp Foundation Board
Current Board Members
Carrie Kourkoumelis, President
Nationally noted harpist Carrie Kourkoumelis began her career in Seattle, where she won the coveted Battelle Prize at seventeen, which included a debut recital for the Seattle critic’s circle. She has appeared as a soloist, chamber musician, and held principal harp positions all over the United States and in Greece. She studied at The Curtis Institute of Music, the University of Washington, the Music Academy of the West, and the Tanglewood Music Center with Lynne Wainwright Palmer, Pamela Vokolek, Marilyn Costello, Bernard Zighera, and Suzanne Balderston. She is grateful for her excellent solo and chamber music coaching with many renowned musicians, including Rafael Druian, Eugene Lehner, Gunther Schuller, Gabor Rejto, Leonard Altman, and members of the original Philadelphia String Quartet.
After being awarded a Leonard Bernstein Fellowship at Tanglewood, she moved to Boston from Los Angeles where she had been a free-lance harpist in the movie studios (including Warner Brothers Studios), principal harpist of the Ventura Symphony, and held other principal harp positions in Massachusetts, Washington, Montana, California, and Alaska. In New England, she has been a soloist with such diverse groups as the Boston Cecilia Society, Master Singers and Alea III, and worked with the Boston Lyric Opera, Boston Ballet Orchestra, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, New Hampshire Symphony, Monadnock Music Festival, Springfield Symphony, and in Boston theater orchestras for many Broadway theater productions such as South Pacific, Beauty and the Beast, Phantom of the Opera, and Carousel. She has premiered many new works and played under the baton of Leonard Bernstein, Maurice Abravanel, and Gunther Schuller. She has appeared in concert with Leonard Rose, Eileen Farrell, D’Anna Fortunato, Jane Bryden, Sanford Sylvan, Joe Lovano, Ray Charles, Chet Atkins, Liza Minnelli, Dudley Moore, Brian Wilson, Connie Francis, and Ben Vereen. She was a founding member of the Music at Angel Fire Festival in New Mexico, with former Juilliard String Quartet First Violinist Joel Smirnoff, The Raphael Trio, (Cantor/Soprano) Betsey Peters, harpsichordist Elaine Comparone, oboist Burt Lucarelli, guitarist Dusan Bogdanovic.
As a solo recitalist and chamber musician, she has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Sanders Theater, the Gardner Museum, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University, and the J. Paul Getty Museum. She has played as a soloist for Supreme Court Justices, given lecture demonstrations in inner-city housing projects, and watched her harp airlifted into an open-air Venetian fort on the isle of Crete. Having won numerous awards, Carrie Kourkoumelis is called upon to judge national harp competitions and present workshops, including the American Harp Society National Competition and the Anne Adams Auditions. She presented a national workshop at USC with The Producers Music Director Don York on playing the harp for Broadway theater productions.
Ms. Kourkoumelis is a twice-elected member of the Melrose School Committee, President of the American Harp Foundation, Co-Director of the Anne Adams Competition. She served as a a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors for the American Harp Society including the chairperson for its first-ever sold-out AHS National Conference at Brandeis University with 750 harpists from all over the world, on the Massachusetts NOW Foundation Board and with numerous local organizations. She was Chairman of the City of Malden Cultural Council and the city’s 350th Birthday Celebration mayoral appointee in charge of its Arts presentations. She works now in collaboration with various arts and civic foundations to bring music to those who cannot make it to the concert hall. Her entire family shared the same stage for the inaugural Healing Arts Program at Massachusetts General Hospital. Ms. Kourkoumelis has received major grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council for several concert series featuring the harp and chamber music that pioneered new modes of community outreach. A former adjunct faculty member at New England Conservatory Prep School, Mt. Holyoke, Smith Colleges, and the University of Montana, Carrie is presently the Director of The Classic Harps of New England and teaches primarily in her Melrose studio. Carrie and her husband Campbell Kaynor are grateful to be the parents of four, Arthur Diogenes, John Elias, Nickolas Edward and Efthalia Fay Kaynor, and their two standard poodles, Maureen and Weebil.
Kathleen Bride, Vice President
Kathleen Bride joined the Eastman faculty in 1989, only the third professor of harp since the School’s founding in 1921.
Bride has appeared as recitalist in London and the Netherlands, in addition to appearances in major cities across the U.S. She has been guest recitalist at the Cheltenham International Festival of Music, the Maria Korchinska International Harp Competition, Holland Harp Week, American Harp Society National Conference, and Lincoln Center Project. As solo harpist on a European tour with the Juilliard Ensemble of Contemporary Music and composer Luciano Berio, Bride recorded contemporary chamber music on the Philips and RCA Victor Labels.
Since 1978, Bride and organist Jon Gillock have toured the U.S. as duo-recitalists. Bride also performs as part of a touring duo with British flutist Judith Pearce. She has been soloist with Colonial Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, Ridgewood Chamber Orchestra, Wayne Chamber Orchestra, Scranton Philharmonic, and Korean Chamber Ensemble.
In addition to her extensive teaching and performance activities, she has served as juror for the International Harp Contest (Israel), the USA International Harp Competition, and the Conservatoire de Musique de Quebec Concours.
Bride is a member of the visiting faculty of the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England, and has conducted numerous master classes throughout the U.S. and Britain. Prior to her appointment at Eastman, she was chairman of the harp department at Manhattan School of Music. She has been artist in residence at both the Universities of Puerto Rico and Hawaii.
Bride is a graduate of Marywood College (PA), and The Juilliard School.
Holly Avesian, Secretary
Noted harpist Holly Avesian serves as Secretary on the Executive Committee of the American Harp Foundation Board of Directors. She comes to this position from a rich background as professional harpist and educator, having earned both her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Music Performance and Education at the University of Michigan under Ruth Dean Clarke. Her teaching experience includes training in Suzuki methodology and she regularly participates and presents at professional conferences and workshops.
Ms. Avesian has performed with numerous professional orchestras on the East Coast and in the Washington, DC, area, the Richmond Symphony, as well as throughout Michigan. Her background includes considerable work as a theater harpist, having done productions at the Kennedy Center, National and Warner Theaters, Arena Stage, Signature Theater and Shakespeare Theater. She also has credentials in the commercial recording industry, including movies and commercials. Holly’s Lyra Ensemble, comprised of harp and other instruments in various combinations such as harp and flute and/or violin/cello/voice has performed widely and for many years.
Holly has been a frequent performer and entertainer both as a soloist and in collaboration with other musicians. She is frequently heard at numerous embassies, the Library of Congress, United States Capitol Building, Blair House, Constitution Hall, The Kennedy Center, Strathmore Concert Hall, Wolftrap, US State Department National Cathedral, National Gallery of Art, The United States Supreme Court and the Smithsonian Museums. She has entertained several United States Presidents, and she has performed at several U.S. presidential inaugurations and national tree lightings, ceremonies for visiting foreign dignitaries, numerous celebrities, and internationally respected musicians over the years. Private events have taken her to historic sites, private homes, businesses, galleries, national museums, major hotels and conference centers and places of worship. She has played for well over one thousand weddings and been a featured performer for the American Harp Society, Flute Society and American Guild of Organists conference events, in addition to holding permanent positions at the Tower Club and the Kennedy Center.
Holly Avesian’s publications of arrangements for harp and flute/violin, harp and choirs, harp and solo vocalists are eagerly sought out by harpists across the globe. In addition to her executive role with the American Harp Society Foundation, she is a respected member of the American Harp Society, American Federation of Musicians, American String Teachers Association, Music Teachers National Association, Music Clubs of America, and many other professional associations.
Penny Howk Beavers, Treasurer, Donor Relations
Penny Howk Beavers is a harpist specializing in contemporary popular music. She began her study of the harp at age five, guided by her mother, in Joliet, Illinois, whose loving instruction provided a solid foundation for the future. Her classical training began with Sister M. Charles of Joliet, further expanded at Interlochen National Music Camp under the guidance of Charles Kleinstuber, where she was a Concerto Winner, and with Ruth Dean Clark at the University of Michigan, earning her degree in Music Performance. Penny was appointed Principal Harpist with the Fresno Philharmonic Orchestra, Bear Valley Music Festival and was also a recording harpist at George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch for many years. She performs and lectures throughout the United States and Europe, founded the Central California Chapter of the American Harp Society and has been active on the Board of Directors. Penny was the Banquet Soloist for the 25th American Harp Society National Convention in Denver, Colorado, has been a performer/lecturer for the Salvi Pop Festivals in Santa Barbara, California, the Florida Summer Harp Festival in Orlando, Florida and co-hosted and performed a special event at the International Pop and Jazz Harpfest in Tucson, Arizona. She also represented the US on a panel of guest speakers and performers at the World Harp Congress in Copenhagen, Denmark. Penny has four solo recordings and many solo harp arrangements published by Vanderbilt Music Company. She also has a music ministry at her church, teaches privately and performs on the central coast of California. She is a member of the Central Coast Wedding Professionals, the American Harp Society and the American Harp Foundation, serving on the Board of Directors currently as Treasurer.
Frances Duffy, AHSF Competitions Director
Ms. Duffy is Principal Harp of the Wheeling and Allentown Symphony Orchestras, the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, and also performs regularly with the American Ballet Theatre at both the Koch Theater and Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center. Recently she finished a seven-month engagement performing as harpist for the Broadway show Wicked. She has performed with the New York Philharmonic, the New York City Ballet, the American Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the New Jersey Symphony, the Albany Symphony and the Hartford Symphony under conductors including Michael Tilson Thomas, Keith Lockhart, Marin Alsop, Leon Botstein, Kurt Masur, Charles Dutoit, and Lorin Maazel. She is an active free-lance musician in the NY Metropolitan area, playing Broadway shows such as My Fair Lady, Mel Brooks’ The Producers, Beauty and the Beast, The Fantasticks. and the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular. In addition, Ms. Duffy has served as harpist with the Pittsburgh Opera and Civic Light Opera and as Acting Principal harpist of the Pittsburgh Ballet Orchestra. As a soloist Ms. Duffy has performed concertos with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, Pennsylvania Sinfonia, Wheeling Symphony, Pittsburgh Civic Orchestra, the Altoona Symphony and the Lyric Orchestra. She has performed recitals at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall, Merkin Concert Hall and Trinity Church in Manhattan and is in demand as a chamber musician and collaborator. A long-time member of the American Harp Society, Ms. Duffy has served as the North Jersey Chapter president and was elected to the American Harp Society Foundation Board of Directors. Ms. Duffy received BFA and MM degrees in music performance from Carnegie Mellon University and a Master of Music in Orchestral Performance degree from the Manhattan School of Music. Her teachers have included Kathleen Bride, Anne-Marguerite Michaud, Deborah Hoffman and Sarah Bullen. She recently completed a doctorate at Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts under the direction of André Tarantiles. Ms. Duffy is also an active bass trombonist and singer.
South Florida based harpist Kristina Finch is a model of an independent modern musician. Versatile and flexible in all settings Kristina is constantly striving to connect with new and diverse audiences using classical training and a passion for popular music to defy expectations and expand perceptions of the harp.
Since moving to Miami, FL in 2013 Kristina has served as the principal harpist for the Miami Symphony Orchestra, Florida Lakes Symphony Orchestra, and as a guest artist with the Florida Grand Opera, Nu Deco Ensemble, Brevard Symphony Orchestra, Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida, and Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra. Along with orchestral playing, Kristina is a passionate chamber musician performing with ensembles of all shapes and sizes. Her primary ensemble, the Kontra Duo with saxophonist Dannel Espinoza, performs recitals throughout the continental United States, most recently as featured performers at B-Sharps Cafe in Tallahassee, FL and as guest artists at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC. Other regularly performing ensembles include the Jewel Tones with French Hornist Amanda Moskowitz and Artemis94 with harpist Rosanna Moore.
Kristina maintains a full-time freelance career in South Florida, that has included performances for Tiffany & Co., Salvatore Ferragamo, Prestige Imports, Burgees Yachts, Project: Newborn, and the Biltmore Hotel, as well as private event performances at some of South Florida’s finest hotels, restaurants, houses of worship, and event spaces.
As an educator and soloist Kristina is an in demand guest lecturer, coach, and performer that presents a fresh and unique perspective to students of all ages. In South Florida, Kristina run the Miami Harp Academy, serving students from all walks of life, and believes that the harp should be accessible to people of all kinds regardless of their age, race, religion, gender, or socioeconomic background. Kristina served as harp faculty at the Luzerne Music Center in Lake Luzerne, NY for the summers of 2017 & 2018, where she worked with students from across the globe. Kristina offers masterclasses, recitals, lessons (live and internet), and academic lectures throughout the US.
Kristina began playing the harp in her hometown of Williamsburg, VA at the age of 8, and received her Bachelor of Music degree and Doctorate of Musical Arts in Harp Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY (2008, and 2015 respectively), and Master of Musical Arts degree from Florida State University in Tallahassee (2010). Besides her musical activities, Kristina is also a contributor to Harp Column Magazine through writing for both print and digital, and as the host/creator of “Harp Column Podcast.”
Elizabeth Meriwether Huntley
A graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, harpist Elizabeth Huntley is one of the NY Capital District/Saratoga/Lake George Region’s busiest musicians. She regularly performs for weddings, parties and corporate functions all over the area at popular venues large and small. She is a member of the Glens Falls Symphony and teaches at Skidmore College and SUNY Adirondack.
She served as editor of The American Harp Journal from 1998–2017. She was a founding member of the North Eastern Mountain Chapter of the AHS and was both secretary-treasurer and president.
She loves to showcase the harp’s versatility. Not only does she enjoy playing both the classics, from Bach to Debussy, but she also loves to play pop music, including show tunes, the Beatles and even Sting and Green Day. She also plays a wide of Celtic traditional music.
On the lighter side, Ms. Huntley has played for the Irish Tenors, Garrison Keillor, Josh Groban, Bobby Vinton, Barry Manilow, Melissa Manchester, Johnny Mathis, Manhattan Transfer, and Roger Daltrey. She has appeared at Saratoga’s famous Caffè Lena. She has also played at Proctors for the touring companies of Evita and Chorus Line, for Cathy Rigby’s Peter Pan, Marie Osmond’s Sound of Music and for both Richard Harris’s and Robert Goulet’s Camelot. She has played A Little Night Music at Capital Repertory Theatre, and The Fantasticks at the Cohoes Music Hall, as well as for the annual production of The Night before Christmas with the Adirondack Repertory Dance Theatre at the Charles Wood Theatre in Glens Falls. She has also been a regular in the Saratoga Battlefield’s August Dark Tuesdays concert series in the summer, and for Saratoga’s annual Victorian Stroll in the winter.
She is the principal harpist with the Glens Falls Symphony where she has twice been guest soloist. She has been guest soloist with the Skidmore College Orchestra. She has played in the Hubbard Hall productions of Carmen and Hansel and Gretel. She has also performed with the opera companies of Boston, New York City, Glimmerglass, and Lake George, as well as with the orchestras of Springfield, Hartford, Albany, and Schenectady. She also appeared as a member of the Boston Orchestra in MGM’s film Yes, Giorgio, starring Luciano Pavarotti.
Since 1998, Ms. Huntley has been the editor of The American Harp Journal, the twice-a-year magazine of the American Harp Society. She is a published author and edited Pentacle: the Story of Carlos Salzedo and the Harp by Marietta Bitter.
Paula Page, born in Odessa, Texas and raised in Philadelphia, joined the Houston Symphony as Principal Harpist in 1984 and retired from that position in 2014. Prior to her Houston appointment, she was a member of the Pittsburgh Symphony in the dual positions of harpist and keyboard artist.
A graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music, Miss Page began her career as Principal Harpist of the Oklahoma Symphony Orchestra. She has been guest harpist with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony and the Cleveland Orchestra, and is Principal Harpist of the Grand Teton Music Festival. Miss Page is a frequent participant in various chamber music series in Houston and has been featured at several national conferences of the American Harp Society and at three meetings of the World Harp Congress. She has served as a judge for numerous competitions including the ASTA (American String Teachers Association) and the Corpus Christi International competition. In 2006 Miss Page was honored to receive the Alumni Achievement Award from the Cleveland Institute of Music.
Always eager to combine performance and pedagogy, she has served on the faculties of the University of Oklahoma, Temple University Institute, Carnegie-Mellon University, Interlochen Arts Camp and is currently Associate Professor of Harp at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University and the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston. She has been an Adjunct Professor at Sam Houston State University since 2013. During the summer she is a member of the faculty at the Texas Music Festival and the International Festival-Institute at Round Top. This combining of performing and teaching careers follows in the pattern of her two main mentors, Alice Chalifoux (Cleveland Orchestra) and Edna Phillips (Philadelphia Orchestra).
Miss Page has two children, Kathleen Fossan and Brendan Fay and three grandchildren, Samantha Fossan, Madeleine Fay and Maxim Fay.
SALLY MAXWELL, 1935–2013
Coming from a family of musicians, it was natural that Sally Maxwell, harpist and teacher, became a member of the American Harp Society from its beginning. Her mother, Doris Helen Calkins was an outstanding harpist who started the first harp class at the University of Oregon in 1935.
Sally Maxwell began studies of the harp under her mother. As a child, she particularly loved playing her small Clark Irish harp as a young member of the university harp ensemble. As she grew, she played harp at her school and often played as a duo with her mother at churches and musical events.
She later studied with Mildred Dilling, Marcel Grandjany and as a student, she spent a year in Paris, France where she was able to study with the famous harpist and teacher, Henriette Renié. As a student of the University of Oregon in her Junior Year, she returned to Oregon.
After marriage, she taught students in Portland, OR and played with the Portland Opera as well as playing for Broadway Musicals orchestras, etc. With her family, she spent two years in the San Diego area, playing in local orchestras, musicals and concerts while her husband Winston Maxwell was assigned as a doctor during the Vietnam War.
Sally returned to Eugene where she began a twenty-year teaching career at the University of Oregon while continuing her performing career at the Eugene Symphony and orchestras throughout Oregon. She assumed leadership roles in the American Harp Society from its earliest days, serving as Northwest Regional Director, as a member of the AHS Board of Directors, on the Board of Readers for the AH Journal, and Chairman of the Harp Literature committee. She also served as Vice President of the AHS prior to serving as President from 1986-1988 and again from 1994-1998.
As many people know, her mother Doris Calkins made it possible for the “Ruth Lorraine Close Awards” to be given to three young harpists annually/ nationally through the American Harp Society and the University of Oregon. Sally organized this competition each year. When those awards were no longer possible, she worked with Burton Adams to create and continue the “Anne Adams Awards.”
Sally served as President of the American Harp Foundation, a separate non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to support the educational activities of the AHS. The Foundation manages donations from harp-loving benefactors who may invest in specific programs or scholarship awards guaranteeing the continuance of such programs in perpetuity.
WENONAH MILTON GOVEA
Wenonah Govea is Professor Emeritus of Music at California State University in Hayward. She is a composer, performer, and teacher and has shared her talent with her community as director of numerous local honor choirs as well as introducing harp in the public schools. She also established her university’s harp program, expanding it to include a harp ensemble which performed professionally. She initiated the American Harp Society Summer Institute for student harpists and was instrumental in the formation of the American Harp Foundation. As a scholar, she is the author of Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Harpists: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook (Bio-Critical Sourcebooks on Musical Performance).
RUTH WICKERSHAM PAPALIA, 1935–2019
Ruth Wickersham Papalia was introduced to the harp by Mildred Biehn Johnson, in Quakertown, PA, at the age of nine. By the time she was in high school, Ruth was studying with Edna Phillips, First Harpist of the Philadelphia Orchestra. She entered Oberlin Conservatory of Music, in Ohio, majoring in harp performance under Lucy Lewis. During her college years she studied with Carlos Salzedo at the Summer Harp Colony of America in Camden, Maine. Ruth was accepted at Curtis Institute of Music upon graduation from Oberlin, but chose instead to join the Angelaires Harp Quintet, managed by Columbia Artists. She toured the US and Canada with this group for their two final seasons. Ruth has been soloist with various orchestras and retired from the Cortland, NY, College Community Orchestra after 41 years. In 2004, Ruth, Lucy Scandrett and Jan Bishop formed a trio named The Three of Harps which commissioned two pieces from the British composer Simon Proctor. The Three of Harps has performed over 20 concerts together.
Ruth has been active in the American Harp Society at the national level since 1979. Previous to that she was a co-founder and officer of the Central New York Chapter. Ruth was appointed to fill a vacancy as a Regional Director on the Board of Directors, and was later named to the Executive Committee. She has served as AHS Secretary, AHS Treasurer and Chairman of the Board of Directors. She was on the founding committee of the American Harp Foundation and served as its first Treasurer. Ruth was responsible for writing a grant to fund the former Young Artist Program of the AHS. As Rules Committee Chairman, she led the revision of the AHS Bylaws in 1998. She has served on the American Harp Journal Board of Readers and as a judge for the AHS Competition. Ruth and her husband, Dr. Anthony Papalia, a psychologist have written articles and presented workshops at National Conferences on topics such as Dealing with Performance Tension and Teaching Styles. Ruth acknowledges the fine people who have served as her mentors and is a firm believer the AHS is a true ensemble of people sharing ideas, pursuing common goals and promoting the harp.