Thursday, June 16th, 2022
Chicago has many talented harpists with a variety of skill sets. We will be featuring several of them in our Thursday evening concert!
As a harpist performing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Lyric Opera of Chicago, Eleanor Kirk is an experienced orchestral, chamber, and solo musician. She serves as the Principal Harpist with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, and as Harp Faculty at The People’s Music School and Young Artists Harp Seminar. Season highlights from the past year include guest principal appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Fort Wayne Philharmonic, the Ring Cycle at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and a Midwest tour with the Chicago Harp Quartet.
In addition to numerous awards, she received honors at the Luminarts Competition in 2017 and the Musicians Club of Women Competition in 2019. Kirk has played in major venues such as Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall, the Civic Opera House, and Symphony Center in Chicago.
Kirk studied with New York Philharmonic harpist June Han, Lyric Opera of Chicago principal harpist Lynn Williams, and Chicago Symphony Orchestra principal harpist Sarah Bullen. She holds degrees from Columbia University, and Chicago College of Performing Arts, and currently serves as the Principal Harpist with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago.
Kirk is a founding member of 5th Wave Collective, a Chicago based classical music ensemble dedicated to the performance and promotion of music by women composers, where she performs and works as development director. In addition to balancing varied performances and administrative roles, Kirk enjoys teaching in her private studio, and serving as Vice President of the Chicago Chapter of the American Harp Society.
Even before she entered this world, Julie Spring was destined for the harp. Her mother was quoted as saying that her children would learn to play the harp when Julie was still in the womb! So it was that Julie and her siblings all took lessons while growing up outside Chicago. Eventually, Julie’s path took her to Eastman School of Music and further to Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts, where she earned her Master’s Degree in Orchestral Studies.
Since that time, Julie has lived in numerous places and had the joy of playing with some of the world’s most prestigious orchestras, including holding the title of Principal Harp with the Toronto and Hartford Symphony Orchestras as well as the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. While Julie cherishes the opportunities to play with these orchestras and playing as a guest with the Chicago Symphony, Lyric Opera Orchestra of Chicago and Grant Park Symphony, she finds a persistent calling to teach.
Outside of the standard private lesson studio in her home, Julie has taught as a sabbatical replacement at her alma mater, Eastman School of Music, as well as Harp faculty at Gordon College, Boston, and currently, Concordia University Chicago and College of DuPage. While her own, grueling practice hours at the harp are treasured, she takes immense pride in the growth and accomplishments of her students.
In 2016, through common musical connections, she met and joined the Chicago Harp Quartet, “the quartet that put harp quartets on the map!” (Harp Column, 2018). With CHQ, Julie has toured domestically and internationally, and released “Dance Sketches,” the quartet’s sophomore album with 5 world premier works for harp quartet.
Julie’s harp-roadie-in-training is her son, Dax, who turned 7 this year. You can find them playing a duet on piano or harp just as easily as they discuss Transformers or Legos. Julie will warn you that her son’s blonde curls are deceptively angelic, though he is always willing to help move a bench or stand for musicians in need!