top of page

Harpist Yolanda Kondonassis Releases FIVE MINUTES for Earth

Harpist Yolanda Kondonassis Releases FIVE MINUTES for Earth

Fifteen New Solos for Harp Inspired by Earth

Release Date: April 1, 2022 (Azica Records)

Order/Stream the album:

World Premiere Recordings of New Music by Jocelyn Chambers, Chen Yi, Michael Daugherty, Daniel Dorff, Reena Esmail, Keith Fitch, Patrick Harlin, Stephen Hartke, Nathaniel Heyder, Takuma Itoh, Aaron Jay Kernis, Philip Maneval, Máximo Diego Pujol, Gary Schocker, and Zhou Long

Multiple GRAMMY-nominated harpist Yolanda Kondonassis announces FIVE MINUTES for Earth, her new album that both celebrates our planet and illuminates the challenge to preserve it, available worldwide from Azica Records on April 1, 2022. Kondonassis asked fifteen of today’s most innovative compositional voices to create new works for the harp, of approximately five minutes in length, that express a powerful experience inspired by Earth in one of its many conditions or atmospheres. FIVE MINUTES is also a metaphor for the urgent and compressed timeframe that remains for our global community to find and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.

All composers generously contributed their works to this project, and each solo is written for and dedicated to Yolanda Kondonassis: Jocelyn Chambers, Chen Yi, Michael Daugherty, Daniel Dorff, Reena Esmail, Keith Fitch, Patrick Harlin, Stephen Hartke, Nathaniel Heyder, Takuma Itoh, Aaron Jay Kernis, Philip Maneval, Máximo Diego Pujol, Gary Schocker, and Zhou Long. Read about the composers and their music in the album liner notes:

Kondonassis says, “Ever since I became active in earth-conservation over twenty years ago, I have had a sense that the harp could be a strong metaphorical protagonist in the story of Earth: majestic but fragile, feminine yet fiercely powerful, and strikingly diverse but appreciated primarily for its most classically beautiful facets. These works represent wildly varied treatments of the harp idiom that run the gamut from heart-wrenchingly poignant to gut-wrenchingly strident, with gorgeous melodies and haunting sonorities enhanced by just about every innovative, contemporary effect in the book. My producer and I made the choice to let the natural acoustics of the harp ring through on this recording – to capture each sound deeply and authentically, whether an intimately voiced line or a wailing scream in the uppermost register of the harp. The result is this musical ode to our Earth in all its glory, beauty, and pain – past, present, and future.”

The new album is only part of a Kondonassis’s larger vision for her FIVE MINUTES for Earth® project. Her royalties from the recording release will be donated to earth causes and initiatives. After the works are premiered and released, the music will be available to harpists worldwide, and for each verified performance of any work in the FIVE MINUTES collection – by any harpist, anywhere in the world – Kondonassis’ non-profit organization Earth at Heart® will make a donation to a recognized earth conservation organization. The beneficiary organizations include The Rainforest Alliance, The Sierra Club Foundation, Environmental Defense Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Ocean Conservancy, and Wildlife Fund. The concept of the project is built upon the idea of bringing the classical music community together in support of earth conservation and “paying it forward” through one’s artistic contribution, where the creation and performance of music actually generates funding for earth causes. The project also encompasses planned live, multi-media concerts, a unique video for each track, and a separate published collection of Earth-inspired solos for younger harpists to be published by Theodore Presser.

As founder and director of the non-profit organization, Earth at Heart®, Kondonassis says, “Climate change, air quality, water pollution, man-made disasters, and diminishing resources are all inconvenient topics that have become increasingly politicized. Sometimes we instinctively know something deserves our attention, but we need a bit of inspiration to push us into action. As a musician, I see the profound impact of the arts all around us on a daily basis. That is why I founded Earth at Heart®. When we see an idea expressed in the language of music, dance, visual art, or poetry, those sensory experiences often open the mind and heart to interaction and reaction in ways that mere facts may not. With every passing moment, we lose ground in the battle to protect our environment from the dire consequences of waste, neglect, and abuse. Action is the goal, but a visceral call to engagement can be the catalyst. There is not a minute to lose in our battle to protect the future of our planet, and an open heart and inspired commitment can make all the difference.”

FIVE MINUTES also builds upon Kondonassis’ commitment to the advancement of new music and her passion for inspiring composers to write for the harp. She has promoted countless new works through her numerous recordings, commissions, and performances, including the world premiere series of Bright Sheng’s Never Far Away: Concerto for Harp and Orchestra with the San Diego Symphony and the Dallas Symphony, and most recently, she was the dedicatee and soloist in the world premiere series of Jennifer Higdon’s Harp Concerto; Kondonassis’ recording of Higdon’s Harp Concerto earned a GRAMMY nomination for Best Classical Instrumental Solo in 2020. Her extensive discography includes works by Rorem, Rochberg, Erb, Liebermann, Paulus, Fitch, Lash, Montsalvatge, Takemitsu, Cage, and Carter, among others.

Royalties from several of her other projects are donated to earth causes and her first children’s book, entitled Our House is Round: A Kid’s Book About Why Protecting Our Earth Matters, was published in 2012 by Skyhorse Publishing and praised as “the perfect children’s introduction to environmental issues” by The Environmental Defense Fund. The book was licensed as a featured title by Scholastic Books and was released in an updated paperback edition with the title My Earth, My Home in January 2022.

Recent Posts
bottom of page