Claire Happel is a committed and versatile performer in music and movement with interests spanning from seventeenth century works to pieces by emerging artists of today.
As a harpist, she has performed with the St. Louis Symphony and Civic Orchestra of Chicago, among others, and has formed chamber projects with oboist Karisa Werdon (Immer Neu), bassist Philip Alejo (River Town Duo), guitarist James Moore and mandolin player Jeremy Harting (Noble Fowl Trio). Dedicated to performances of the standard repertoire as well as contemporary music, she has premiered works by Hannah Lash, Lainie Fefferman, Caroline Shaw, Douglas Fisk, Sarah Kirkland Snider, and Nomi Epstein, among others. Her work with new music ensembles include performances with the Berg Orchestra, Ostravská Banda, the Chicago Composers Orchestra, the International Ensemble Modern Academy, and on the Pulitzer Series of St. Louis. She has performed at the American Harp Society Summer Institutes in Chicago, Tacoma, and Logan, Utah, and presented on the Alexander Technique at the World Harp Congress in Dublin. Any chance she can get to improvise, sing, or try something new, she will happily take.
She has received grants from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, Urbana Public Arts Commision, Illinois Arts Council, and American Harp Society for commissions, performances, recordings, and student scholarships. Claire holds degrees from Yale and the University of Illinois in both music and dance, was a 2007-08 Fulbright Scholar in the Czech Repbulic under Jana Boušková. Her harp teachers include Sarah Bullen, June Han, Cheryl Ann Fulton, Sarama Schnack, and Ann Yeung. Claire served as harp teaching assistant while a student at the University of Illinois and Yale, on the faculty of the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary's College from 2015-17, and as harp teacher at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in 2015. She currently teaches harp, Alexander Technique, and movement at Olivet Nazarene University, Valparaiso University, and the James Hart Harp Program in the Homewood Public Schools. Outside of music and movement, Claire is a member of Soroptimists International of Chicago, an organization to improve the lives of women and girls, and has produced stories (click here!) for public radio as an Arts Desk intern at NPR headquarters in Washington, DC.
Equally interested in movement, Claire formed Yale Movement Improvisation and Composition while in graduate school and has performed in the dance works of Rebecca Nettl-Fiol, Luc Vanier, Sara Hook, Mary Barnett, David Parker, David Neumann, and Nicholas Leichter, among others. Her perspective on coordination is largely influenced by the Alexander Technique, specifically its relationship to developmental movement as investigated by Joan and Alex Murray, Rebecca Nettl-Fiol, and Luc Vanier. Most recently, she has performed in Baroque operas, finding the relationship between the spiraling arms of eighteenth century dance and developmental patterns fascinating.
River Town Duo
Philip Alejo, bass, and I have developed a repertoire of pieces for harp and bass, beginning with Francaix's Duo Baroque and then Latin American and Spanish songs both transcribed and composed for the duo. We find that the dynamics and timbre of the instruments compliment each other in a beautiful way, and we and have a lot of fun finding repertoire and playing together! We first performed together at the Mackinac Island Music Festival, and have since presented recitals together at the University of Arizona, University of Illinois, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Valparaiso University, University of Notre, Dame, St. Ambrose University, International Society of Bassists Convention, the American Harp Society Institute, and the Kerrytown Concert House in Ann Arbor. We are currently recording pieces by emerging composers Caroline Shaw, Hannah Lash, Derick Evans, Evan Premo, Whitney Ashe, and Stephen Andrew Taylor that we commissioned for our duo.
Karisa Antonio and I started playing together in 2011 to explore the works written for Ursula and Heinz Holliger, beginning with Elliott Carter's Trilogy. In 2012, we received a Chicago Cultural Grant (CAAP) to record Carter's Trilogy after rehearsing and performing the piece for over two years. Since then we have added Birtwistle's Orpheus Elegies to our repertoire, commissioned pieces from Douglas Fisk and Whitney Ashe, and frequently perform in New York and Illinois.
Noble Fowl Trio
Struck by the unique texture and bell-like twang of three acoustic plucked instruments (harp; James Moore, guitar; Jeremy Harting, mandolin), we formed the Noble Fowl Trio after playing chamber music together at the Yale School of Music. Our goals are to explore and expand the repertoire for this combination of instruments. Featured on WFMT Chicago's Relevant Tones in 2013.
We are an innovative harp quartet (Charles Lynch, Julia Jamieson, Erin Brooker-Miller) performing unexpected arrangements of 80s pop music.