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Courtney Hershey Bress

Courtney Hershey Bress

Principal

  • Colorado Symphony Principal Harp since 2001
  • Former Principal Harpist of The United States Army Field Band (Washington D.C.)

Photo Credit: Mike Pappas

Courtney Hershey Bress joined the Colorado Symphony as Principal Harp in 2001, after a celebrated freelance career that took her all over the world. Her travels took her to engagements in Asia with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, in the United States with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and, as Principal Harpist with the United States Army Field Band, as soloist and as part of the ensemble, on tour to the 48 continental states. She has been Principal Harpist of the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music and guest Principal Harpist with the Baltimore Symphony. She has played with the Grand Teton Music Festival, the Strings Music Festival and as a guest artist with the Colorado College Summer Music Festival.

Ms. Bress was chosen and performed for the American Harp Society and the World Harp Congress. She was the soloist in the world premiere of Michael Daugherty’s only harp concerto Harp of Ages, in May 2023, a piece commissioned by the Colorado Symphony for Ms. Bress. She will be giving the International premiere in Bogotà, Colombia this coming June and playing the piece across the United States starting fall of 2024. The live recording will be released under the Naxos label in the summer of 2024. 

Ms. Bress is also an active teacher in master classes around the world and in her private teaching studio. She is the Adjunct Professor of Harp at Lamont School of Music, University of Denver; Harp Instructor for the Lamont Summer Academy; and Lecturer of Harp at the University of Wyoming. She was Assistant Professor of Harp at Colorado State University from 2016–2021 and has been visiting Professor of Harp at the Eastman School of Music.

Ms. Bress is the author of the book For Love of the Harp, published by Veritas Musica Publishing. The book gives advice to young musicians and relates stories about her career, then provides a guide to arranging and composing music for the harp.

Ms. Bress was a 2005 GRAMMY® nominee for her performance of Ancient Voices of Children by George Crumb. Her performances can be heard on recordings with the Colorado Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, the U.S. Army Field Band, and on recordings on the Naxos, Bridge, and Albany labels. Her duo album, Night Music and Fantasies, with violinist, Andrés Cárdenes, was released in December 2022. 

Ms. Bress earned a Bachelor of Music degree and the Performer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music and received her Master of Music in Orchestral Studies from the Chicago College of Performing Arts, Roosevelt University. Her teachers include Kathleen Bride, Sarah Bullen, and Gretchen Van Hoesen.