Deborah Henson-Conant

Artist in Residence

Performance ~ Composing ~ Collaboration ~ Teaching

Rarely can a visiting artist bring dance, theater, music, history, technology, women’s studies — and creative entrepreneurship together to give students in the arts a full spectrum of what it takes to develop a life as an artist today.

When both students and faculty can also collaborate with that artist on a live performance that brings all those values alive, the experience is not just learning and watching, but a chance to work with the artist.

Deborah Henson-Conant (“DHC”) has performed as a solo artist and with orchestras and chamber ensembles around the world, composing and sharing her original works of music and music-theater. She received a Grammy Nomination for her 2007 “Invention & Alchemy” CD – which was also filmed as a PBS special – original works for electric harp, voice and symphony that combined story, music and virtuosic performance. Her one-woman shows have been produced at theaters and festivals.

Her TEDx talk outlines the history of her development of the “DHC” electric harp – a wearable instrument developed specifically for her shows and now played by harpists around the world.

She’s a consummate performer and an impassioned educator, working with students to on creative expression, performance, harmony, improvisation and how to create works – and lives – that allow share their unique creative voices.

Residencies Include Performance, Coaching, Collaboration & Lectures in Creativity

DHC’s residences with schools include workshops for both students and professionals in performance, creative expression and artist-entrepreneurship.  Longer residencies also include opportunity for students to participate in performance with the artist (see images below). 

DHC’s residencies with schools and arts organizations includes workshops for music students on performance, collaboration, the creation of one-person music-theater presentations and creative entrepreneurship, coaching students in performance of her original chamber works and performing with student ensembles.

Chamber Ensemble residences can include her coaching performers in her “Mythic Women” compositions for chamber ensemble and soprano – as well as her own performances with chamber ensemble in music influenced by jazz, Blues, Flamenco and musical theater.

Her “Reinventing Freedom” expanded TEDx lecture outlines the development of her signature instrument – a solid-body electric wearable harp – as well as the role of persistence in creative development.  Her “Strings of Passion” presentation shares the 7 principles that lead from creative impulse to creative expression and combines a Ted-Talk-like spoken-word presentation with solo performances. Both are spoken “From the Harp” and are suitable for both general audiences, and arts-focused student or professional audiences.

Residencies that include a public performance also include audience outreach through social media interaction.


Innovative Artist & Program Creator Deborah Henson-Conant

Deborah Henson-Conant tells stories with music using her signature carbon fibre wearable electric body-harp – she often looks like she’s physically ‘one’ with her instrument.  Her music combines elements of Blues, Jazz, Latin, Classical and Musical Theater and innovative strumming, percussive and bending effects she uses along with a looper pedal.

As solo artist she’s opened for Ray Charles at Tanglewood, toured internationally,and been a featured solo performer for Festivals like Festival Interceltic (one of the world’s largest Celtic Festivals in Brittany, France), Cape Cod jazz Festival,  Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Chicago Humanities Festival, Festival Mundial in Paraguay, Edinburgh Fringe – and of course countless international harp festival worldwide.[/three_fourth_last]

She’s presented her original works at the Kennedy Center “Imagination Celebration” and Boston “Ideas” Festival and debuted her One-Woman Musicals at the Central Square Theater in Cambridge, MA and the Regent Theatre in Arlington, MA.

The biggest comments people make after her shows is about the incredible energy, innovation and “Wow, I had no idea a harp could do that.”

BOOKING INQUIRIES:  Email and include the preferred date, location and how you heard about Deborah Henson-Conant.

Residency Inquiries

Email and include the preferred date(s), length of residency, the departments you’d like to serve  (ex: music, theater, dance, women’s studies, entrepreneurship, etc.) and any performance or speaker events you’d like to consider.  All residencies are collaborative, so you’ll be able to build the residency together with DHC – this information will give us a sense of what part of your audience, clients, faculty, members or students you’d like to serve. 


Coaching and conducting yournger performers in playing Henson-Conant’s original compositions with Chamber Ensemble or Orchestra is one of the elements of residency.

LIVE: Workshops, Masterclasses & Mega-Lessons

  • Harp Clinics & Workshops – When I travel, I’m often hosted by festivals or harp associations for workshops in improv and performance skills including Impromptu Arrangement, Blues, the art of telling your story with music, combining spoken word with music, harmony and theory, how to read lead sheet, etc.  For more information on potential workshops use the “Ask a Question” form to connect with my team and ask for the catalog of workshop descriptions.
  • Live Performance Coaching – These 90-minute sessions usually focus on one performance issue or on how to perform any of my original pieces.  Some students have used these sessions to go over the fundamentals of improvisation if they need to apply it quickly and to a specific performance opportunity, and don’t have time to go through the classes in Hip Harp Academy. Other uses of the live performance coaching sessions are preparation for a performance or recording. Use the “Ask a Question” form to request more information about live performance coaching at my studio.
  • Masterclasses & Megalessons – While I can present standard masterclasses where one performer is getting coached while other observe, I generally prefer what I call “Megalessons” where a group of 3-4 performers – all of whom have instruments – shares a 90-minute session and where each person brings a specific issue to work on, and as we work on that, I show each of the others how to apply similar principles at their own technical level.  I usually schedule Megalessons at teaching festivals. Use the “Ask a Question” form to request more information about megalessons and when/where the next set will be scheduled.
  • ‘Performance for Musicians’ Week-Long Workshops – These are usually 5-6 day workshops which I present in collaboration with my teaching partner, mime-dancer Karen Montanaro.  In these workshops, performers are led through a series of exercises, games and coaching sessions which Karen and I developed from work with our own mentor, Tony Montanaro.  The goal of these sessions is to develop a strong understanding of physical expression and bring that to the instrument.  To sponsor a ‘Performance for Musicians’ workshop use the “Ask a Question” form to connect with someone on my team.

Working with opera and chamber ensemble departments as composer and coach, like in this 2014 collaboration with Boston University that developed and presented two of Henson-Conant’s serious works for chamber ensemble and soprano.

Playing with ensembles and other soloists is also an element of residency that’s available.


Below: Rehearsing and performing with the dance, opera and music departments for a collaborative concert at CCPC in Charlotte, N.C.

"5-DAY Harp IMPROV Challenge" 

A FREE Training 
from  Deborah Henson-Conant


Learn the First Step of Freedom: Free Yourself from Reading the Notes on the Page.  Register here to join the challenge

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