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As a sponsor of the USA International Harp Competition, Lyon & Healy proudly publishes the winning composition of their USAIHC Ruth Inglefield Composition Contest. The winning composition of the 7th contest is “self” by Ariel Sol Bertulfo Schwartz and the piece will be required repertoire for Stage III of the 12th USA International Harp Competition being held in June 2022.
Ariel Sol “Ari” Bertulfo Schwartz (2000) from Chicago, USA, is at the cutting edge of musical arts as a composer, producer, and harpist. In his music, Ari aims to create community through person-oriented performance experiences. He thoroughly enjoys interdisciplinary work, drawing inspiration from modern media, storytelling, linguistics, sociology, and current events. In all musical facets, Ari strives to dismantle traditional accessibility barriers and diversify both the stage and audience. Ari studies at the Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington, Indiana, with professors Jeremy Podgursky (composition) and Elzbieta Szmyt (harp).
On learning that he was the winner, Ari said: “Honestly, it feels quite surreal. I’m thrilled, of course! As someone studying both harp and composition, I’ve had my eye on this competition since I learned of its existence. It’s an honor to have my work recognized by such a prominent organization! When I entered, I felt that a contest of this level was a bit out of reach – it was an absolutely wonderful surprise to learn that I had been selected as the winner.”
About his composition self, Ari noted “from the beginning I think self was bound to be an expression of many subversions. When I first began conceptualizing the piece, I knew I had to address gaps I was seeing in the existing harp repertoire. In my experience as a performer, I’ve struggled through technically challenging but artistically unfulfilling pieces – the kind of music that’s difficult for difficulty’s sake. For self, I started with the question “what can music give the performer?” And while I think there are no correct answers, self is a personal expression of what playing harp has given me. One of my favorite things about the harp is the way the vibrations of the instrument feel: a harpist is connected to their harp at the fingers, arms, shoulder, legs, and feet. Inspired by this feeling, I wanted to write music that emphasized the connection between performer and instrument; I wanted a piece that felt as if the harp and harpist could intuitively fuse into a single music-making ‘self.’”
His compositions and commissioned pieces have been recognized by such groups as Tribeca New Music and the NAMM Foundation and have been performed in places including the Peoria Civic Center, the Grant Park Music Festival’s Music in the Parks Series, and Dominican University’s Lund Auditorium. Ari was selected in 2017 as a Featured Young Composer of the American Harp Society, where he premiered his harp solo Starlight Variations. Additionally, his compositions have been recognized multiple times by the Illinois Music Education Association, including being awarded two 1st prizes in their 2018-2019 Composition Contest. Ari is also at home as a performer, being selected several times through the Greater Chicago Chapter of the American Harp Society’s Scholarship Competition to perform as a soloist at Lyon & Healy. He has performed as the principal harpist with such ensembles as the Americas Chamber Orchestra, Sinfonietta Bel Canto, and the Schaumburg Youth Symphony Orchestra. Through his synthesis of experiences and identities, Ari brings a genre-defying, multimedia approach to contemporary performance practices.
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