Finalists: Caroline Hsu, piano; Spencer Rubin, oboe; Alexandra Woroniecka, violin; Sarah Ma, violin, Annalisa Welinder, violin
BRANDEE YOUNGER, HARP
A fearless and versatile talent, contemporary harpist Brandee Younger defies genres and labels as a classically-trained musician playing in the avant-garde tradition of her sonically forward forebears Dorothy Ashby and Alice Coltrane. Ms. Younger delivers a consistently fresh take on the ancient instrument as an educator, curator, performer and leader of the Brandee Younger Quartet. Ms. Younger has produced an impressive body of work since the 2011 debut of her seminal PreludeEP, including Brandee Younger Live @ The Breeding Ground, a breakthrough performance on Bluenote Records and Revive Music’s 2015 Supreme Sonacy Vol. 1 LP, and the more recent release of her critically-acclaimed 2016 Wax & Wane LP.
Known for expressive interpretations of traditional harp repertoire as well as her continued work with a diverse cross-section of musical talents, Ms. Younger is widely recognized as a creative linchpin whose nuanced presence and willingness to push boundaries have made her irreplaceable on record and in performance. She has shared the stage with jazz leaders and popular hip-hop and R&B titans including Ravi Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Charlie Haden, Jack DeJohnette, Reggie Workman, The Roots, Common, Maxwell, John Legend and Lauryn Hill.
Ms. Younger has taught at Adelphi University, Nassau Community College, The Hartt School Community Division at the University of Hartford and currently maintains a rigorous schedule as a private instructor and teacher at Greenwich House Music School. Ms. Younger has lectured and conducted masterclasses at The Royal Conservatory of Music (Toronto), University of Birmingham (UK), Howard University, Drexel University, Princeton University, Tulane University, Trinity College, The Hartt School, Elyrica Summer Music Program, Connecticut Valley Harp Intensive, NOLA Jazz & Pop Festival and she also serves as Symphonic and Jazz Harp Artist in Residence at the Cicely L. Tyson Community School of Performing and Fine Arts. In addition, she boasts a handful of bylines for Revive Music and Harp Column Magazine and holds several leadership positions as a member of the Apollo Young Patrons Steering Committee and the advisory board of the Wilbur Ware Foundation.
She is the Vice President of the Long Island & Metro NYC chapters of the American Harp Society (AHS) and serves on the AHS Board of Directors. Stepping away from traditional venues to bring live performance to alternative spaces, in 2016 Ms. Younger served as curator of the weekly Harp On Park concert series “highlighting the diversity of the harp and the contemporary importance of an ancient instrument” for Arts Brookfield and most recently curated “Divine Ella,” a concert dedicated to the legacy of Ella Fitzgerald as part of the historic Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture’s annual Women’s Jazz Festival.