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The 2016 International Harp Festival will be held at the beautiful San Damiano Retreat Center in Northern California. We will bring together many of the harp community’s best clinicians and performers. Our mission is to educate and inspire you and to connect you to harpists from around the globe.

The festival will include One Day Intensive workshops as well as numerous 1 - 2 hour workshops. Topics include healing harp, Celtic and world music, liturgical harp, improvisation, and much more.

You will have time throughout the day to shop for harps, music, and accessories, and meet and mingle with other participants, the performers, and facilitators.

Every evening you will enjoy concerts featuring harpists performing The Blues, Straight Ahead Jazz, World Music, Folk and Classical repertoire.

Please visit our website for full event information, schedule, and FAQs.

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Improvisation [clear filter]
Friday, May 27


Beyond Triads
Limited Capacity seats available

Tired of the same old arpeggiated accompaniments in the bass? Learn to make the most of your left hand accompaniment by exploring chord variations, inversions, arpeggio variations and passing tones. We'll work on several traditional tunes to help us practice our skills, and open up a whole new world!

avatar for Beth Kollé

Beth Kollé

Beth Kollé performs and presents workshops on harp, flute and pennywhistle, and sings in Norwegian, Swedish and Gaelic. She also teaches Scandinavian folkdance and song at festivals and retreats around the United States. She organized the three HARPA tours to Scandinavian to perform and promote harp-playing in 2006, 2008, and 2013. A fourth HARPA tour, run by Jen Narkevicius, traveled to Scotland in May 2015. Beth has been... Read More →

Friday May 27, 2016 9:15am - 10:30am
Fireside Lounge
  • Level All
  • Harp Required? Yes


Intro to the Blues
Limited Capacity seats available

Learn a style that will make you want to run to your harp to play!

Blues is one of the simplest musical structures, and one of the richest and most expressive.  And it’s incredibly fun on the harp! 

You start with three simple chords, and once you know exactly where to play them, there is no limit.

With Deborah, you’ll learn:

  • Exactly where to set your levers to play a Blues melody that’s easy yet sounds impressive.

  • How to bend notes and do riffs, licks, bass lines and comping (super fun).

  • How to play solo Blues

  • How to play with a band, shifting between the 3 roles: Bass, comping and melody.

  • The structure of the 12-Bar Blues, and which chords go where

  • How to get the rhythm into your body

  • How to ‘fake’ it if you get lost

  • How to create the mind-blowing “Kerfuffle” ending that looks hard, but is easy!

avatar for Deborah Henson-Conant

Deborah Henson-Conant

Deborah Henson-Conant ("DHC") is a GRAMMY©-Nominated one-woman orchestra. With electric harp, voice and a looper pedal that she layers sounds in real time, then weaves solo lines and vocals above it. Her signature instrument is an 11lb carbon-fiber electric harp, designed specifically for her by the CAMAC... Read More →

Friday May 27, 2016 1:30pm - 3:30pm
Fireside Lounge
  • Level All
  • Harp Required? No


Left Hand Heaven
Limited Capacity seats available

Starting with simple, basic patterns, we will learn exercises to strengthen the left hand and increase dexterity and confidence in the left hand and then move on to advanced patterns which can be used in arranging.

avatar for Joanna Mell

Joanna Mell

Joanna Mell has been playing Celtic music for over 40 years. She played guitar, mandolin and keyboards and sang in a Celtic band on the East Coast during the 1980s and 90s. Since 1989, she has made the Celtic harp her focus and performs nationally at conferences, festivals and other venues. She also teaches locally and by Skype. She has recorded five CDs of Celtic music. She is also a therapeutic harpist.

Friday May 27, 2016 3:45pm - 5:45pm
  • Level All
  • Harp Required? Yes
Saturday, May 28


Creating Tasty Harp Arrangements from Lead Sheets
Limited Capacity filling up

This is a hands-on class with many musical examples providing techniques for turning a lead sheet into an interesting musical arrangement. It will include various rhythmic patterns, chord substitutions and melodic ideas that can be plugged into various songs. Participants can feel free to bring a lead sheet that they would like ideas for arranging.

avatar for John Metras

John Metras

John Metras has played a number of instruments professionally since the 1970s, including the guitar, piano, accordion and harp. As a graduate of Lone Mountain College as a guitar major, he proceeded to obtain a Masters degree in Music Education from Holy Names College in Oakland and a teaching credential at San Francisco State University. John taught music in Sonoma County schools for over 30 years, has mentored a number of new music... Read More →

Saturday May 28, 2016 1:30pm - 2:45pm
St. Francis
  • Level Intermediate-Advanced
  • Harp Required? Yes
Sunday, May 29


Improvisation Immersion
Limited Capacity seats available
You need this ticket from Eventbrite to sign up: Sunday All-Day Intensive: Improvisation Immersion.
How are some musicians able to just sit down and start improvising music 'out of thin air'?

How do others take a simple tune and spin it into an entire piece?
Are they just more 'creative' than others? Or do they have skills that anyone could learn?
This full-day workshop will help you take the techniques and skills that you already have right now, at this moment, and turn them into something that lets you truly express yourself ... spontaneously through the use of improvisation.

In this Full-Day Workshop You’ll Learn:

  • 5 ways to enhance each piece you’re already playing – right now - without having to improve your harp technique

  • The 4 essential tools you need to create a convincing solo improvisation on any simple melody without doing any preparation in advance

  • 3 fun, simple musical jams you can use when someone says “Let’s Jam” (or when you start saying it!)

  • How to modulate from one tune (and key) to another – and how to use that modulation as a moment of creative expression

  • How the basic principles of Music, Theater & Movement Improv can work together to broaden your expressive range no matter what your technical level is so you can be more expressive with the music you already play by engaging your body, and truly listening to what you’re playing learn skills

  • How to take your musicality and performance ability to a whole new level without having to ‘get better at the harp’

This workshop is for you if you want to:

  • Know how to break away from the written page

  • Know how to be more responsive musically to any situation you’re in – from a Blues Jam to a bedside in hospice

  • Know how to break out if you’re feeling stuck

  • Experience the freedom of simply sitting down and playing without having to ‘worry’ about the notes

  • Know how to communicate a sense of relaxation (even if your stomach is churning and your hands shaking!). Audiences in concerts and care settings NEED to feel this first to truly hear your music. And more importantly by doing this you will be able to hear and play your music better too!

  • Express your musical story without having to learn anything new on the harp. We spend so much time working on finger technique, speed, coordination and agility – but or bodies and voices need the same attention. Using techniques learned in movement and theater improvisation we’ll learn to express more before even touching our first note on harp.

  • Learn the power of theatrical communication when the space before your piece begins and when your piece ends is just as important as the space in a melody is to the notes.

avatar for Deborah Henson-Conant

Deborah Henson-Conant

Deborah Henson-Conant ("DHC") is a GRAMMY©-Nominated one-woman orchestra. With electric harp, voice and a looper pedal that she layers sounds in real time, then weaves solo lines and vocals above it. Her signature instrument is an 11lb carbon-fiber electric harp, designed specifically for her by the CAMAC... Read More →

Sunday May 29, 2016 10:00am - 5:00pm
Fireside Lounge
  • Level All
  • Harp Required? Yes