47 strings, 7 pedals, 6 feet tall, and weighing in at around 85 pounds — the harp is one of the most intricate instruments in the orchestra. Yet for its size and grandeur, it’s also one of the most delicate sounds in the orchestra played using only the musician’s fingertips plucking the many strings as the musician glides gently up and down the harp.
Don’t let the delicate sound fool you though, the harpist is a true athlete that works to keep the harp sounding as easy and delicate as it does while balancing such a massive instrument upright during an entire performance. Lucky for the Colorado Symphony — we have Courtney Hershey Bress.
Courtney is in her 15th season with the Colorado Symphony. Before that, she was the principal harpist for the United States Army Field Band where she toured the country performing concertos and concerts. Make no mistake, harpists still have to go through boot camp training like everyone else in the Army, and it’s clear that Courtney’s military and athletic training helps her to be one of the most commanding harpists of our time.
Courtney is also a much sought-after teacher and has given classes around the country, at her private teaching studio here in Colorado, as the Affiliate Professor of Harp at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and as guest Professor of Harp at the Eastman School of Music.
When not performing with the Colorado Symphony or teaching, you might find Courtney being nominated for GRAMMY® awards. Courtney was a 2005 GRAMMY® nominee for her performance of George Crumb’s chamber work Ancient Voices of Children.
“I am very excited to perform the Debussy and Ravel with my colleagues and share these pieces with the city of Denver. They are two major standard pieces in the harp literature and showcase the instrument beautifully.”
Courtney Hershey Bress
See Courtney Hershey Bress in concert on October 16 and 17. This dazzling program showcases Courtney performing virtuosic masterpieces from Debussy and Ravel.