Arts & Culture

Chandler Hospital Concert to Celebrate Lyon & Healy Harp Donation to UK

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photo of Elaine Cook with Thomas Harlan's Lyon & Healy harp
photo of Thomas J. Harlan with Lyon & Healy pedal harp, 1941

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 24, 2017) The University of Kentucky Harp Ensemble will present a concert in celebration of a recent donation of an 1896 harp at 4 p.m. Sunday, March 26, at the Pavilion A Atrium Lobby of Albert B. Chandler Hospital. The concert is free and open to the public.

This weekend's dedication concert, part of a performance series presented by UK Arts in HeathCare and UK School of Music, will celebrate the donation of an 1896 Lyon & Healy pedal harp by Thomas J. Harlan III, in memory of his grandfather Thomas Jeffries Harlan.

Thomas Jeffries Harlan was born in Albemarle County, Virginia, on Nov. 22, 1866. A claims adjuster for the L&N Railroad, he relocated his family to Paris, Kentucky, in the early 1920s and became a member of First Presbyterian Church. His passion for music manifested itself in his love of playing the harp until his death on Aug. 23, 1956.

This weekend's performance will be the first time the harp has been played in public for more than 60 years. “After my grandfather died in 1956, the harp remained in the possession of my grandmother until her death in 1982,” said Thomas J. Harlan III. “Since that time it has been in my home. No one has played the harp since 1956.” 

Elaine Cook, director of the UK Harp Ensemble, has used the harp in practices and masterclasses.

“I have been experimenting with different types of strings for sound and the least amount of pressure on the soundboard,” Cook said.

Founded in Chicago in 1864 by George Washburn Lyon and Patrick J. Healy, Lyon & Healy built its first harp, Model 21 #501, in 1889. It was a love of music and the enterprising nature of Healy which drove the company to improve an instrument already thought to be perfect. For 125 years, Lyon & Healy artisans have maintained Healy’s commitment to a practice of old-world craftsmanship while embracing new-world innovations.

Sunday’s concert program featuring the Lyon & Healy pedal harp will include works by Scholmovich, Stephanie Curcio, Samuel Milligan and more, as well as familiar works like "Amazing Grace" and "Stairway to Heaven."

Members of the UK Harp Ensemble are: Cook, Alison Henry, Ashley Su, Elizabeth Dickerson, Elsa Klaene, Laure Ziembroski Smith, Lexie Grimes, Lillie Greer, Madeline Farrar and Tiana Thé.

UK Harp Ensemble is part of the UK School of Music at the UK College of Fine Arts. The school has garnered a national reputation for high-caliber education in opera, choral and instrumental music performance, as well as music education, music therapy, composition, and theory and music history.

The mission of UK Arts in HealthCare is to create an environment of care and to focus on the spiritual and emotional well-being of UK HealthCare patients, families, caregivers and staff. The program recognizes the arts and artists as powerful and positive forces in the healing process by showcasing work from local, national and international visual artists; presenting performing artists from UK faculty, staff and the world stage; and offering therapeutic arts which employ art in a clinical setting to contribute to healing.

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: uky.edu/uk4ky. #uk4ky #seeblue