Harpist Yolanda Kondonassis to Present Live Concert World Premiere of FIVE MINUTES FOR EARTH in Cleveland

Featuring new, earth-inspired works by Jocelyn C. Chambers, Chen Yi, Michael Daugherty, Daniel Dorff, Reena Esmail, Keith Fitch, Patrick Harlin, and more.

By: Sep. 12, 2022
Harpist Yolanda Kondonassis to Present Live Concert World Premiere of FIVE MINUTES FOR EARTH in Cleveland

Multiple GRAMMY-nominated harpist Yolanda Kondonassis will present the live concert launch of her FIVE MINUTES for Earth project with a concert of 17 world premieres on Sunday, October 23, 2022 at 7:00pm at The Cleveland Museum of Art's Gartner Auditorium. New, earth-inspired works for harp solo by Jocelyn C. Chambers, Chen Yi, Michael Daugherty, Daniel Dorff, Reena Esmail, Keith Fitch, Patrick Harlin, Stephen Hartke, Nathaniel Heyder, Takuma Itoh, Aaron Jay Kernis, Steven Mark Kohn, Philip Maneval, Máximo Diego Pujol, Arturo Sandoval, Gary Schocker, and Zhou Long will receive their world premiere performances following their recorded premieres by Kondonassis on her new album, FIVE MINUTES for Earth (Azica 2022).

In 2020, Kondonassis asked some of today's most innovative compositional voices to create new works for solo 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 for Earth is also a metaphor for the urgent and compressed timeframe that remains to find and implement solutions to the global environmental crisis.

The FIVE MINUTES for Earth Project is an initiative of Earth at Heart, a nonprofit organization founded and directed by Kondonassis. Earth at Heart's mission is to inspire earth conservation awareness and action through the portal of the arts by supporting and commissioning earth-inspired works, providing earth-inspired programming and earth education resources, and by funding automatic donations to worthy earth conservation organizations with each verified performance of works in the FIVE MINUTES for Earth collection, by any artist, anywhere in the world. Beneficiary organizations include The Rainforest Alliance, The Sierra Club Foundation, Environmental Defense Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Ocean Conservancy, and Wildlife Fund. As part of the artistic "pay-it-forward" concept of the project, all composers generously contributed their works to the effort, and each harp solo is written for and dedicated to Yolanda Kondonassis and the FIVE MINUTES for Earth project. Each of the live performances on October 23 will result in the first FIVE MINUTES for Earth donations to the earth conservation organizations listed above, sponsored by Earth at Heart. Kondonassis began the project with commissioned works for her own instrument, but will expand the creation of commissioned projects to include works for other instruments and art forms in 2022 and beyond.

The FIVE MINUTES for Earth project is designed to support a multi-faceted array of earth-inspired works of art, and the October 23 concert at The Cleveland Museum of Art will highlight several different art forms: curated photographic and video images projected behind each musical work on the program, an original work of earth-inspired poetry by Robert Walters (English Hornist of The Cleveland Orchestra and an accomplished poet), a winner's award presentation of Earth at Heart's Art Poster Contest (in partnership with The Cleveland School of the Arts, a public high school serving over 400 arts scholars in the Performing and Creative Arts), and the world premiere of a new vocal work, created especially for the concert by composer and librettist, Steven Mark Kohn, and performed by vocalists from The Cleveland Institute of Music.

The world premieres of all the harp solo works on Kondonassis' FIVE MINUTES for Earth album were slated to be presented by Kondonassis over two concerts in April 2022, with one scheduled at New York's Merkin Concert Hall and the other at Los Angeles's Wallis Annenberg Center for The Performing Arts, but a slip on the ice sidelined Kondonassis for several months and required the rescheduling of those live premieres. Kondonassis says, "Life is unpredictable, but I am so grateful for a speedy recovery and the opportunity to do the live concert launch on my home turf. I often joke that my performing life requires getting on a plane to go to work, but with this concert I have the opportunity to introduce these works to my own community first and to include some special features unique to Cleveland."

While the majority of live premieres on the concert will be performed by Yolanda Kondonassis, several of the harp solo works will be played by accomplished former students of Kondonassis, who has headed the harp department at The Cleveland Institute of Music since 1997. These performers will include Ina McCormack, Xiao Du, Juan Riveros, and Grace Roepke.

In Kondonassis' words, "The idea of including a specially-commissioned work of poetry by an outstanding Cleveland-based poet, young visual artists from The Cleveland School of the Arts, vocalists from The Cleveland Institute of Music and several exceptional, emerging harpists in this concert event just seemed right, given that the FIVE MINUTES project is all about bringing the artistic community together in the earth conservation effort and facilitating the opportunity for artistic contribution to result in monetary assistance for worthy earth conservation causes through the sponsorship of Earth at Heart."

Royalties and proceeds from several of Kondonassis' other recordings and 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 (New York) 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 released by Skyhorse in an updated paperback edition with the title My Earth, My Home in January 2022.

Kondonassis says, "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 art, 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 effort 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."

Performance Details:

Sunday, October 23, 2022 at 7:00pm
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Gartner Auditorium | Cleveland, OH
Tickets: https://engage.clevelandart.org/8886/8887

TAKUMA ITOH - KoholaSings (Humpback Whales) (2021) [World Premiere]
MICHAEL DAUGHERTY - Hear the Dust Blow (2021) [World Premiere]
AARON JAY KERNIS - On Hearing Nightbirds at Dusk (2021) [World Premiere]
CHEN YI - Dark Mountains (2021) [World Premiere]
MÁXIMO DIEGO PUJOL - Milonga para mi Tierra (2021) [World Premiere]
REENA ESMAIL - inconvenient wounds (2021) [World Premiere]
GARY SCHOCKER - Memory of Trees (2020) [World Premiere]
KEITH FITCH - as Earth dreams (2020) [World Premiere]
JOCELYN C. CHAMBERS - Melting Point (2021) [World Premiere]
PHILIP MANEVAL - The Demise of the Shepard Glacier (2020) [World Premiere]
PATRICK HARLIN - Time Lapse (2021) [World Premiere]
ZHOU LONG - Green (2021) [World Premiere]
NATHANIEL HEYDER - Earthview (2021) [World Premiere]
Daniel Dorff - Meditation at Perkiomen Creek (2021) [World Premiere]
STEPHEN HARTKE - Fault Line (2021) [World Premiere]
Arturo Sandoval - Wildflower (2021) [World Premiere]
STEVEN MARK KOHN - Will We No Longer Recognize This Place? for Voices and Harp (2022) [World Premiere]

About Yolanda Kondonassis
Yolanda Kondonassis is celebrated as one of the world's preeminent solo harpists. Hailed as "viscerally exciting" (The Chicago Tribune) and a "brilliant and expressive player" (The Dallas Morning News), she has performed around the globe as a concerto soloist and in recital, pushing the boundaries of what listeners expect of the harp. Also a published author, speaker, professor of harp, and environmental activist, she weaves her many passions into a vibrant and multi-faceted career.

Praised by Gramophone for her "keen sense of dramatic timing and a range of colour that's breathtaking," Kondonassis has sold hundreds of thousands of albums and downloads worldwide and her extensive, critically acclaimed discography, released on the Telarc, Azica, New World, Channel Classics, and Oberlin Music labels, includes over twenty titles and over two-dozen world-premiere recordings. She was nominated for a 2020 GRAMMY Award for Best Classical Instrumental Solo for her live, world premiere recording of Jennifer Higdon's Harp Concerto (written for Kondonassis) with The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (Azica, 2019). Her 2008 album of music by Takemitsu and Debussy, Air (Telarc), was also nominated for a GRAMMY Award.

Since making her debut at age 18 with the New York Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta, Kondonassis has appeared as soloist with major orchestras in the United States and abroad including The Cleveland Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony, NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic (Poland), Orquesta Sinfonica de Puerto Rico, Odessa Philharmonic (Ukraine), and New World Symphony to name a few. Other appearances include engagements at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, the 92nd Street Y, Taiwan's National Concert Hall and at renowned festivals including the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Marlboro Music Festival, Spoleto Festival, Tanglewood Music Festival, Bravo! Vail, and others. She has been featured on CNN, PBS, Sirius XM Radio, and National Public Radio.

The 2021-2022 season marked the debut of FIVE MINUTES for Earth, a project created by Kondonassis that both celebrates Earth and illuminates the challenge to preserve it. 17 composers generously donated their work to the project, and in partnership with Kondonassis' nonprofit organization Earth at Heart, every verified performance of any of the works after the live and recorded premieres by Kondonassis - by any harpist, anywhere in the world - will result in a monetary contribution to a recognized earth conservation organization. The world premiere recording was released on Azica Records in April 2022.

As an author, composer, and arranger, Kondonassis has published four books to date with Carl Fischer Music: The Composer's Guide to Writing Well for the Modern Harp; On Playing the Harp, a comprehensive guide to harp technique and methodology; The Yolanda Kondonassis Collection, a compilation of her many original transcriptions, arrangements and compositions for the harp; and The Yolanda Kondonassis Christmas Collection, featuring Kondonassis' most popular arrangements from her acclaimed disc, Dream Season: The Christmas Harp. A new volume to be published by Theodore Presser and co-curated by Kondonassis, The Earth Collection, will feature three new compositions by Kondonassis, in addition to other earth-inspired works written especially for the publication, and will be available in 2023.

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 department at the Cleveland Institute of Music, is the founder and director of the nonprofit organization, Earth at Heart, and presents masterclasses around the world. For more information on Yolanda Kondonassis, visit www.YolandaHarp.com.

Photo Credit: Laura Watilo Blake