Playing too close to Charlotte, NC harpist Christine Van Arsdale in our recent concert.

I’ve toured as a performing composer for years, but I’m always happiest when when I’m a guest artist in residence – for at least a few days so I get to really connect with other artists and performers.

So my trip last week to Charlotte, NC, and my collaborative show “A Woman in Music” at the 2016 Sensoria Festival of Literature and the Arts, was especially satisfying, because I got to work with the Dance Theater department, the opera ensemble, harpist Christine Van Arsdale, conductor Alan Yamamoto and the Bechtler Chamber Ensemble – all performing my original music, all doing new and fun things with it.   Yes … as a composer, this is pig heaven.


Above: Together with members of the opera ensemble in the “Hallelujah Blues” from my musical “What the Hell are you Doing in the Waiting Room for Heaven??”

To develop this collaborative performance – which included students,  faculty and outside professionals – I worked with long-time friend Alan Yamamoto, the Division Director of Arts at CPCC – and Alan also conducted the Bechtler chamber ensemble.

Alan and I met in college at U.C. Berkeley, where he conducted my first ever chamber ensemble performance – the piece that made me fall in love with chamber ensemble. So it was especially fun to pick up the creative conversation where we left off – only this time we were playing my music instead of Maurice Ravel’s. (Mwaaaaa-ha-ha!  Remember the composer’s pig-heaven?)   

Rehearsing for Sensoria with conductor Alan Yamamoto and the Bechtler Ensemble

Rehearsing for Sensoria with conductor Alan Yamamoto and the Bechtler Ensemble

One of the other collaborative aspects of my visit was my work with the Dance Theater ensemble and choreographer Clay Daniels.  Clay and I started the collaboration long-distance by sharing drawings and MP3s, then when I got to the school, we combined forces, opened the piece for improvisation and switched roles for some sections of the piece so that I was playing to his choreography instead of him choreographing to my music.

I love that kind of interplay because it’s not only fun, but it means we end up with a one-of-a-kind experience.

These are photos from the rehearsal of “Under the Bed.”

underthebed-rehearsal-CCPC-160408-3 underthebed-rehearsal-CCPC-160408-1


Before I left I got to connect in one more way with the students – during a repertoire class where we talked about performance, improvisation and the importance of sharing your unique passion with your audience through both words and music.ccpc-rep-class-piano-2016-1


And then simply improvised together …



And, as always, I LOVE getting to work with other harp players, which is why I created my two-harp chamber ensemble feature, “New Blues” you see at the top of this post.  Harpist Christine Van Arsdale jumped into the fray and agreed to not only play Blues with me – but to stand up at the harp while doing it … and she also taught me why I need to make sure not to get too close to the other harp player!

I LOVED this collaboration, all the creative voices it brought together and the insight and resonance it gave to my own music.  Thank you to everyone who shared their passion, spirit and creative ideas with me in this project.

To explore the possibility of a collaborative residency with your ensemble or university, email my office at

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