Concorso Suoni d'Arpa

International Harp Contest and Festival Suoni D’Arpa: Jury, Performers

Also this year, contest participants, concert performers, jury members, teachers and students, will meet from 29 August to 3 September at the International Contest and Festival Suoni D’Arpa. New friendships have been born, the culture, the history and the teaching of the harp have been enhanced and this makes us proud to have worked so intensely on this project. The Competition, conceived by the Italian Association of the Harp to promote Italian music and support young talents, will take place at the High School Music Foundation, located in the heart of the medieval historic center of Saluzzo, a prestigious institution that promotes musical culture, carries out first-level training activities, including on new technologies at the service of music production and hosts one of the most important European musicological research institutes.

The beautiful Sala Verdi, where the auditions of the Contest will take place (here during the Ventaglio di Arpe concert)

Salvi Harps offers many great concert instruments available

L’Antico Refettorio San Giovanni (here during Jana Bouskova concert)

The artistic direction of the event is entrusted, as every year, to Emanuela Degli Esposti and Lorenzo Montenz. It will be an absolutely unique opportunity for comparison among different instrumental schools, all prestigious for concert and teaching tradition. The differentiation of the categories, as well as the choice of their respective obligatory pieces, is to give space for expression to the various musical search paths of the lively arpist contemporary world. The free choices of individual contestants have further contributed to the variety of the music, ranging from classics of the harp literature to transcriptions and historical arrangements, to contemporary, folk and avant-garde music. The competition offers scholarships by Città di Saluzzo, Fondazione Omraam Onlus and Melania Donato, Centro Rodari per la Musica, Viggiano Città dell’Arpa, Hong Kong Harp Centre, Associazione Italiana dell’Arpa; concerts and master class by Salvi Harps Arpissima, Association Espanola de Arpistas, Hong Kong Harp Centre, Città di Saluzzo, Ente Concerti Città di Iglesias, Associazione Conoscere la Musica, Fondazione Castello di Padernello, production and distribution of a CD by the most important Italian Label Tactus, books and scores by Musica D’Arpa “Premio Mirella Vita”, vauchers by Salvi Harps, UtOrpheus editions, Stella Mattutina editions, for a total value of over 25,000 €.

L’Arena Fab (here during Ensemble FUTURA and Vincenzo Zitello concerts)


Manja Smits

Manja Smits became the first harpist to receive the Netherlands Music Prize, the highest state award for classical music in the Netherlands. She also was a prizewinner in the ‘Torneo Internazionale di Musica’ in Rome. After her studies in the Netherlands she was granted a scholarship from the Dutch Government to perfection her art with Prof. Vera Dulova at the Tschaikovski Conservatory in Moscow. She attended masterclasses with Pierre Jamet, Susann McDonald, Andrew-Lawrence King and Germaine Lorenzini. Her repertoire ranges from Bach to Berio. She appeared on radio and television and is regularly invited to perform in festivals all over the world such as: Berio ConSequenze Festival, Gubaidulina Festival, Holland Festival, Peter de Grote Festival, Flemish Chambermusic Festival , 4th Festival ‘Harp Art of Russia’ (Moscow), International Harp Festival in Fukui ( Japan ), Rio Harp Festival (Brazil), Harpe Diem (Belgium), Spring Harp days in Szeged (Hungary), Vienna Harp Days, World Harp Congress. As a soloist she performed with Nieuw Sinfonietta Amsterdam, the three dutch Radio Orchestra’s, the Gelders Orkest, Ensemble XXI (Moscow), Northwest Sinfonietta (USA), the London Festival Strings and ‘Deutsche Kammerakademie Neuss’. Several dutch composers dedicated new works for harp to her.Amongst others she recorded French chamber music with the Renoir Ensemble, the CD ‘Mobile’ with oboist Pauline Oostenrijk, ‘A l‘espagnole’ with the Ensemble ‘Les Quatre’, ‘Music for Flute and Harp’ with Maurice Heugen and her solo CD appeared on the Vanguard Classics label. After a period as solo-harpist of the Residentie Orchestra in The Hague she decided to concentrate on her solo-career, chamber music and coaching of young harpists. Manja is a passionate educator and shares her musicianship with her students at the ArtEZ Conservatoire of Music in Zwolle, the Prins Claus Conservatoire in Groningen and at the Muziekpakhuis in Amsterdam. In 2008 she founded the annual Harp Summer Masterclass in la Roche sur Foron, Haute-Savoie, France. She is regularly invited for masterclasses and as a juror in national and international competitions. Manja is a member of the board of the Harp Society of the Netherlands and artistic director of the national Rosa Spier Harp Competition.

Rosanna Rolton

Winner of the Suoni d’Arpa International Harp Competition 2014, Rosanna made her London debut in the Royal Festival Hall at the age of 20. She gives regular recitals throughout the UK and abroad including appearances at the Wigmore Hall, the Società Filarmonica di Trento, the Three Choirs Festival, the Royal Festival Hall and recently on BBC2 Encore. Alongside her solo career, Rosanna frequently works with the Budapest Festival Orchestra performing under conductors such as Iván Fischer and Marin Alsop, and playing in some of the worlds leading concert venues including New York Carnegie Hall, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Paris Philharmonie and Hamburg Elbphilharmonie. She is also Guest Principal Harpist of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Aarhus Symfoniorkester in Denmark. As principal harpist of the European Union Youth Orchestra from 2016 to 2018, Rosanna toured extensively throughout Europe and the Far East, working with conductors such as Vasily Petrenko and Gianandrea Noseda. Much in demand as a chamber musician, Rosanna has recently performed in Italy, Shanghai, Bucharest and Berlin as well as many venues in the UK. She is a founder member of the European Chamber Ensemble and the Igneous Ensemble, and member of the Cantiaquorum Ensemble. In 2018 Rosanna received her Master’s degree from the Royal College of Music where she studied with Ieuan Jones and Marisa Robles. At the Royal College she has won the harp competition three times as well as the chamber music prize and the concerto competition. As part of the Budapest Festival Orchestra Academy, she continued her studies with Ágnes Polónyi. The London harpist Rosanna Rolton, winner of the International Competition “Suoni d”Arpa” in 2014, shows her skills in a repertoire completely dedicated to the Italian harpsichordists of the eighteenth century, rediscovering those ancient and solid bonds, which have united the repertoire for keyboard to that of the harp. In the wake of that connection that has constantly intersected various aspects of musical production, from solo concerts to teaching, from basso continuo to singing accompaniment, the anthology proposed by Rosanna Rolton proposes compositions drawn by the master harpsichordists of the Neapolitan school and Venetian, who created thatmusical substratum making, from the second half of the eighteenth century the Italian “gallant style”, whose roots were greatly re-evaluated during the chamber and symphonic renaissance of the early twentieth century.

The London harpist Rosanna Rolton, winner of the International Competition “Suoni d”Arpa” in 2014, shows her skills in a repertoire completely dedicated to the Italian harpsichordists of the eighteenth century, rediscovering those ancient and solid bonds, which have united the repertoire for keyboard to that of the harp. In the wake of that connection that has constantly intersected various aspects of musical production, from solo concerts to teaching, from basso continuo to singing accompaniment, the anthology proposed by Rosanna Rolton proposes compositions drawn by the master harpsichordists of the Neapolitan school and Venetian, who created thatmusical substratum making, from the second half of the eighteenth century the Italian “gallant style”, whose roots were greatly re-evaluated during the chamber and symphonic renaissance of the early twentieth century.

Sara Simari

She completed her musical studies with full marks at the Conservatory of Music U. Giordano in Foggia and has developed her skills in playing the harp with Mirella Vita, David Watkins and Nicanor Zabaleta; in chamber music with Giuseppe Garbarino at Fiesole School of Music (Firenze). She has performed as a soloist and chamber musician in Italy and abroad taking part in important international festivals, including the Festival of the Palaces and The White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg, the Spoleto Festival, Taormina Arte Festival, Festival Mundi and Festival Musica d’Oggi in Rome, Sorrento Classical Music, International Festival of Sacred Music in Vatican City, Festival delle Nazioni in Città di Castello, Accademia Bisentina Festival in Viterbo; International Festival of Harp Suoni d’Arpa in Saluzzo, Bologna Harp Festival, Ciemme-Mozart Festival in Lausanne, Zumaja Festival, Festival of Deba, Fire & Ice Festival in Copenhagen, International Ravello Festival in Amalfi Coast, L’Ombra illuminata Festival dedicated to women in music. Her repertoire ranges from early classical music to contemporary music and she has been an interpreter of world premières by composers such as Ennio Morricone, Alessandro Solbiati, Bruno Maderna, Francesco Pennisi, Michele dall’Ongaro. Scholar of unusual repertoires and convinced promoter of the highlights of the original harp repertoire, she has also started a project to research and rediscover the music for harp from Southern Italy, recording the CD Rimembranze di Napoli. The harp at the Conservatory of music S. Pietro a Majella between ‘800 and ‘900 sponsored by Afam (High Training in Art and Music) in 2012 and the CD Fremer l’arpa ho sentito per via. Songs and dances from the tradition of Viggiano, published in 2016 by the label Tactus. Her discography includes authentic rarities even in the field of opera, for example works of Saverio Mercadante, Nino Rota, Alfonso Rendano and Francesco Cilea. She has played as principal harpist in numerous orchestras including Roma Sinfonietta, the Officina Musicale, Orchestra Da Ponte, the ORI (Orchestra Romana International) in Rome, the Aquilana Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Scarlatti in Naples and the Philharmonia Mediterranea, with which she has collaborated for over twenty-five years. She has performed on numerous occasions in concerts for solo harp and orchestra and she has a vast opera and symphony repertoire meeting the praise of conductors such as Peter Maag, Reynald Giovaninetti, Massimo De Bernart, Gianfranco Rivoli, Michel Sasson, Piero Bellugi, Carlo Franci. In her intense artistic activities, she has had the opportunity to collaborate with various international artists. She has performed in many radio and video recordings for various broadcasting companies, including Rai, Rai International and Mediaset networks; she has recorded works by contemporary composers and premières in modern times for the labels Bongiovanni, Warner Fonit, Edipan, La Bottega Discantica and the State Record Library of Italy. Much appreciated is her educational work published for Gopala Publisher (Naples) and Duminuco Publisher (Salerno) as a Guide to the harp repertoire to be used in music conservatories and music schools. Furthermore, she has published studies for solo harp, harp duo and harp ensemble. She has worked on the original recovery of repertoires by authors from Neapolitan Schools and curated several publications such as “Romanza dall’opera Otello variata per arpa” Op. 38 of Ferdinando Bonamici and “Scherzino” by Albert Salvi for Stella Mattutina Edition (Florence); “Rimembranze di Napoli” by Giovanni Caramiello for Ut Orpheus Edition (Bologna) in collaboration with Letizia Belmondo; with the same editor she has published “Serenata”, Op. 51 n. 6 of Alessandro Longo, “Italian Folk Dances from the Viggiano Tradition, for harp” and recently “Intermezzo da Cavalleria Rusticana di Mascagni” by Mascagni-Albano and “2 lieder for harp” by Schubert-Zamara in collaboration with Emanuela Degli Esposti. Graduated in Music, Science and Sound Technology, with the dissertation on the research of “The Harp in the South of Italy from the 16th to the 20th century”, she studied Musicology at Tor Vergata University of Rome. She has held master courses (seminars and conferences) relating to the history of the harp and is involved in concert-lectures related to particular historical productions and the evolution of the repertoire – World Harp Congress of Hong Kong, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance of London, Real Conservatorio Superior de Música of Madrid, Music Conservatoire “A. Boito” of Parma, Music Conservatoire “L. Cherubini” of Florence, APM Scuola Alto Perfezionamento Musicale of Saluzzo and other-, such as Arpa d’or dei fatidici vati. Introduction to opera and symphony harp repertoire; Love and music story: a tribute to Louis Spohr; The harp in Naples from 1500 to the present day; The ancient teaching repertoire with the expert Mirella Vita; The great Neapolitan Harp School of 1800 between street musicians and celebrated virtuosos in the world; Tribute to Victor Salvi, memory and present; The musical tradition of Viggiano: To discover and preserve a musical heritage, unique in the world; A revivification project of the viggianese harp; The harp in orchestra, historical perspective; From Viggiano to New York: The Art of Salvatore Mario De Stefano. She’s a member of the artistic committee of the “Italian Harp Association”, collaborates with In Chordis music magazine, and supervisor of the Viggianese Harp School. Currently teaches harp at the Music Conservatory Niccolò Piccinni of Bari (Italy).

Alberto Martelli

Maestro Alberto Martelli studied Composition, Choral Music and Choral Conducting and Conducting at the “G.B. Martini ”in Bologna. He had as teachers P. Renosto, G.Clementi, T. Gotti and B.M. Furgeri. He actively attended the international conducting courses of Maestro S. Celibidache (Trier, München) together with the seminars of Phenomenology of Music at the University of Mainz. He followed by assisting the Masters E. Inbal and H. Soudant. He has directed in various Italian and foreign institutions, as well as in prestigious festivals and halls. From 1990 to 1994 he was permanent director of the Symphony Orchestra of the Province of Lecce (I.C.O.). He has recorded a CD of music by A.Franchetti (first world recording). He has directed and recorded world premieres of contemporary composers, such as the ballet of G. Gaslini “Sprint”, awarded as the best contemporary ballet for the year 2000. He is a tenured professor of Orchestral Exercises at the “A. Boito ”of Parma. He has been the artistic director of the Musical Association “Knowing Music” since its foundation. As a composer, he was one of the first winners of the AterForum with the performance of his composition by the “A.Toscanini” Symphony Orchestra in the Malatesta Temple in Rimini. It is published by Bongiovanni of Bologna. He also had experience as a music critic, writing for many years for magazines and writing room notes for the Teatro Comunale in Bologna and other institutions. In 2011 he chaired the international jury of the first edition of the “M.Biasini” Guitar Competition, also directing the orchestra in the final at the Manzoni Theater in Bologna; he was also a member of the jury for the second edition of 2013 at the Musik Akademie in Basel and of the third edition of 2015 at the San Francisco Conservatory (USA). He conducted the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra in autumn 2013 and was re-invited for the 2014 Summer Festival. In June 2014 he conducted some performances of “La Serva Padrona” by Pergolesi. In December 2014 he conducted the concert dedicated to citizenship by the Cassa di Risparmio di Parma and Piacenza at the Teatro Regio di Parma. He recently directed the first complete edition in modern times of Antonio Salieri’s Opera “La Loc Bandiera”, based on his own personal revision of the Viennese manuscripts. In 2017 he conducted the “Dinu Lipatti” Philharmonic in Satu Mare. In 2018 he was a member of the International Jury of the “M. Biasini ”at the Paris Conservatory. He was Artistic Director of the 2021 edition of the Biasini Competition, conducting the final at the Teatro Comunale in Bologna with the Theater Orchestra.

Lorenzo Montenz

Lorenzo Montenz started his musical studies very early on, achieving the highest mark and obtaining a diploma with honours in the harp class at the G. Nicolini Conservatory in Piacenza. Subsequently, he perfected his skills at the Guildhall School of Music in London with D. Watkins and the at National Academy of St Cecilia in Rome with E. Zaniboni. He completed his advanced degree in ancient music and historical harps with Mara Galassi at the Civica Scuola di Musica in Milan. He has given performance practice masterclasses in many italian Conservatories and he teaches historical practice and basso continuo in Antwerp.He has given concerts with orchestras directed by the greatest conductors of our time and been invited to perform with the Italian Youth Orchestra, the San Remo Symphony Orchestra, the Giuseppe Verdi Orchestra of Milan, and the Symphony Orchestra of the National Academy of St Cecilia. Since many years he focused on performing on historical harps both as a soloist and a continuo player. As musicologist he published the catalog of the harp music of the queen Maria Luisa of Borbone collected in the Biblioteca Palatina and recorded it for TACTUS. Following his graduation with honours from the State University of Milan, in 2004 he became the Director of the State Library at Monte Cassino. In 2014 he have been appointed director ot the historical Archive of the diocesis of Parma. He is benedictin monk and priest in the diocesis of Parma.

Cormac De Barra

Cormac De Barra is the third generation of harpist in his family. He first studied Irish harp with his grandmother, harpist and singer Róisín Ní Shé in Dublin. He went on to study pedal harp in the United States with Leone Paulson (who was a devoted student of Carlos Salzedo).He has toured extensively as a solo artist, and he performed at the European Harp Symposium and the World Harp Congress in duo with harpist Anne-Marie O’Farrell. He has also toured Europe, the USA and Australia with many of Ireland’s most famous artists and bands including Brian Kennedy, Moya Brennan, The Chieftains and Clannad. Along with his performing career, Cormac hosted the arts series ‘Imeall’ for three years on TG4, Ireland’s Gaelic-language television channel. He was cultural programme director for the Irish Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015 and has worked in theatre both in Ireland and the UK for over two decades. He has released a total of 10 albums. These include his solo CD Barcó (2002), two harp duo CDs with harpist Anne-Marie O’Farrell, Double Strung (2005) and Duopoly (2014) and three recordings in collaboration with Moya Brennan, Voices & Harps (2011), Affinity (2013) and Timeless (2019).

Carmen Bernal Lopez

At the age of seven, Carmen Bernal began to take harp lessons in her hometown in Madrid. She was taught by Ana María Reyes and Débora Henríquez. In 2019, she started her studies at Real Conservatorio Superior de Música de Madrid with Prof. Susana Cermeño. Now, she is almost finishing her Bachelor degree. Carmen also received lessons from different renowned harpists such as Prof. Gabriella dall’Olio, Sylvain Blassel, Sara Simari, María Luisa Rayan, Park Stickney, Joel von Lerber and Nicolas Tulliez. In 2013 and 2017 she won the 2nd prize of the “Arpaplus” contest in Spain. She has gained experience as an orchestra player with lots of orchestras in Spain, such as the youth orchestras of Madrid (JORCAM) and Andalucía (OJA) At the same time, she studies a Bachelor in Biochemistry at the Universidad Complutense of Madrid. She is 1st Harp Winner of the International Harp Contest AEDA 2022, partner of Suoni D’ARPA.

Ensemble dell’Arpa Viggianese

The Viggianese School of Harp and Music, started in 2008 from a project matured, from the sense of the community spirit and expressed through cultural associations committed to the recovery of the musical traditions of the Valle D’Agri, in Lucania.In 2009, the School was integrated into the Administration of the Council of Viggiano, whereby the Cultural Institute designed to regain possession of the identifying symbol, the Harp, in the view of a renewed vitality that individualises in the new generations the projected force for the rebirth of an exclusive musical culture.The exemplary ambassador of the Viggianese Harp School is the Ensemble of the Harp School, which is actively involved in the musical practice that is centrally founded on the repertoire that the musicians of Viggiano took around the world.The group is made up of harp students, at an advanced level who are joined, as needed by other musicians with instruments tied to the practice of the wandering musicians such as violinists, percussionists, flautists and singers.The Ensemble is the leader in the performances rooted mainly in regional settings and for important establishments of which the “Sinisgalli Foundation” of Montemurro, the “Onix Club” of Matera, the Corporation Apennine Park Lucano, the “Harp Festival of Viggiano”, the University of Salerno Campus and many others. It is often a guest at various television programs for stations such as TV2000 (Vaticano), RAI 1 and RAI 3 – just like “L’Italia che risuona” (Italy that resonates) by Ambrogio Sparagna. Among the most significant performances is the stand out concert “La Chiara Stella” (The Clear Star) held at the “Auditorium Parco della Musica di Roma” and the conference -concerts (with Sara Simari) at the Conservatoriums “Moreno Torroba” and Real Conservatorium Superior of Madrid in 2015, the Trinity Leban Conservatorium of London in September 2016, the APM Foundation of Saluzzo (CN) for the inauguration of the International Festival “Suoni d’Arpa” (Sounds of Harps) 2017 organised with the Italian Association of Harps and the Salvi Harps, the Omraam Foundation of Florence for the XXV Season in Villa Vico, the Bologna Harp Festival 2019, the “Festival della canzone napoletana” in Calvello, “Torretta Festival” in Santa Maria dell’Orsoleo, “Teatro in Sala” XXXIII Ed. in Sala Consilina, “Omaggio a Vincenzo Valente” Festival in Corigliano, “Da Torino ad Aliano, l’Eredità di Carlo Levi” in Torino and many others. Recently the Ensemble collaborated on the new record work of the singer-songwriter from Marche Gianluca Lalli.The Ensemble is sustained from the “Associazione Arpa Viggianese” (the Viggianese Harp Association) for its logistic-organisational support.This has been prepared by the teachers Sara Simari e Lincoln Almada in the hope of a project. “Recovery of the repertoire as a protection and promotion of historical identity”, that combines research and pedagogy.

The concerts of the Festival are free entrance


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