Yolanda Kondonassis, harpist
"Kondonassis's colorful harp playing is smooth, resourceful, ever-musical." - Los Angeles Times
"Yolanda Kondonassis is a harpist who handles the repertory of her instrument with considerable poise and musicianly energy . . . powerful playing." - The New York Times
"A dazzling technique unfailingly governed by impeccable musical judgment" - The Detroit News
"Kondonassis has poise and sensitivity–if your hair doesn't stand on end, you're shaving too close." - The New York Daily News
Yolanda Kondonassis is celebrated as one of the world’s premier solo harpists and is widely regarded as today’s most recorded classical harpist. With “a range of colour that’s breathtaking” (Gramophone), she has been hailed as “a brilliant and expressive player” (Dallas Morning News), with “a dazzling technique unfailingly governed by impeccable musical judgment” (Detroit News). She has appeared around the globe as a concerto soloist and in recital, bringing her unique brand of musicianship and warm artistry to an ever-increasing audience. Also a published author, speaker, professor of harp, and environmental activist, her many passions are woven into a vibrant and multi-faceted career.
Since making her debut at age 18 with the New York Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta, Kondonassis has brought new audiences to the harp and has appeared as soloist with numerous major orchestras in the United States and abroad such as The New York Philharmonic, The Cleveland Orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra, and the Hong Kong Philharmonic, to name a few. She has been featured on CNN and PBS as well as Sirius XM Radio’s Symphony Hall, NPR’s All Things Considered and Tiny Desk Concerts, St. Paul Sunday Morning, and Performance Today.
The first harpist to receive the Darius Milhaud Prize, Kondonassis is committed to the advancement of contemporary music for the instrument, with recent premieres including works by Bright Sheng, Keith Fitch, and Gary Schocker. Current projects include a Harp Concerto commission with Jennifer Higdon. Kondonassis has also earned a reputation as a world-class chamber musician, collaborating with artists such as the Shanghai, JACK, Jupiter, and Vermeer string quartets, pianist Jeremy Denk, and guitarist Jason Vieaux, among others. The Kondonassis/Vieaux duo released their debut album, Together, in January 2015 on Azica Records.
With hundreds of thousands of discs and downloads sold worldwide, Kondonassis’ extensive discography, released on the Telarc, Azica, Oberlin, New World, and Channel Classics labels, includes twenty titles. Her latest album, Ginastera: One Hundred, celebrates Ginastera's 2016 centennial and was released in October 2016 on Oberlin Music. Her 2008 release of music by Takemitsu and Debussy, Air (Telarc), was nominated for a Grammy Award. Her many albums have earned universal critical praise as she continues to be a pioneering force in the harp world, striving to push the boundaries of what listeners expect of the harp.
As an author, composer, and arranger, Kondonassis has published three books to date: On Playing the Harp, The Yolanda Kondonassis Collection, and The Yolanda Kondonassis Christmas Collection. Her newest book, A Composer’s Guide to Writing Well for the Harp, will be released in 2019. Carl Fischer Music publishes all of her works. Kondonassis carries her passionate artistic commitment to issues regarding the protection of natural resources, air quality, and climate change. Royalties from several of her projects are donated to earth causes and she is the founder and director of Earth at Heart, a non-profit organization devoted to earth literacy and inspiration through the arts. 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.
Born in Norman, Oklahoma, Kondonassis attended high school at Interlochen Arts Academy. She continued her education at The Cleveland Institute of Music, where she received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees as a student of Alice Chalifoux. Kondonassis heads the harp departments at Oberlin Conservatory of Music and The Cleveland Institute of Music, and presents masterclasses around the world.
Photo by Laura Watilo Blake