ELI YACKEL-JULEEN SARAH KOCHERejyackeljuleen13@ole.augie.edu email@example.com
In ensembles of stringed instruments, the audience expects to see multiple violins, violas and cellos, but multiple harps is an uncommon group.
The Augustana harp studio on campus has a group of six including Maren Werth, Hope Veurink, Briana Bauers and Callie Stadem.
These four current harpists are all very passionate about what they do.
“I have had a wonderful experience playing with the Augustana Orchestra, continuing lessons here on campus and playing in weddings and other gigs around Sioux Falls,” senior Maren Werth said.
Werth is from Bloomington, Minnesota. When she was young, she saw a woman playing the harp in her church and decided that she wanted to do the same. Maren began taking lessons from an 87-year-old woman. She proceeded to take lessons from this woman until she was no longer able to teach. Maren has been playing the harp since she was eight years old and in the second grade. She took lessons for some time before she was able to play local gigs.
Now, Werth takes lessons from Anna Vohres, the harp teacher at Augustana.
“Without the help of my current teacher, Anna Vorhes, I would not be the player that I am today,” Werth said. “She has been a role model for me, not just with the harp but in many other aspects of my life as well. She has an amazing God-given talent to teach and play the harp.”
“My favorite piece is a song called Great Day,” Werth said. “I learned it when I was about 12 years old and it is very ‘harpy,’ showcasing many of the different things that the harp can do. I think the beauty and complexity of the instrument is what drew me to play it, along with all of the beautiful sounds it makes.”
In addition to playing the harp, Werth is on the women’s soccer team. After graduating this May, Werth plans on attending graduate school to attain a master’s degree.
“I have had an amazing experience here at Augie,” Werth said. “Looking back on my four years here, I can say that this was the right school for me. I have been able to play soccer, be in the orchestra, take harp lessons and also receive a wonderful education as an exercise science major and fitness management minor.”
2013 alumna Callie Stadem is originally from Northwood, N.D. During her years at Augustana, Stadem participated in the Augustana Choir, FLITE, theatre, NSO and orchestra.
“I started playing harp because my aunt Rachel played harp,” Stadem said. “I was one of maybe four harpists in North Dakota.”
When Stadem’s parents realized she was serious about playing, they bought a her a real, concert harp. She originally took harp from a student, and when that student moved on she recommended that Stadem instead take up with Vohres
Stadem has been taking harp lessons from Vohres for nearly ten years. Once a month, Callie and Vohres made the trip to Fargo to work together. Eventually, it became once a semester.
“The student-teacher relationship of the harp is more one of mentors,” Stadem said.
Stadem also said she would not have considered Augustana at all if it were not for Vohres.
Freshman harpist Briana Bauers grew up in Hutchinson, Minn. She has only recently started with the harp. Bauers was first drawn to it when she saw a recital in Sioux Falls as a young child, and has aspired to play ever since.
“It’s a very new experience for me,” Bauers said. “Playing the harp is unique, and I enjoy it a lot.”
Bauers transferred from the University of Minnesota at Morris. She committed to the mallet ensemble and sign language interpreting on top of her already busy schedule.
“My experience at Augie has been so welcoming,” she said. “When I first came here, I got this feeling like the whole campus wanted to give me a hug. Every day when I go to class, I feel welcome and appreciated.”
Augustana has proven to be a place for expression and development for these harpists.
“I think people really do need to know that we have an outstanding harp department,” Stadem said.
Augustana’s harp players continue to play either as individuals or as members of many different ensembles.