About the AHS Foundation Board

Current Board Members

Carrie Kourkoumelis, President

Nationally noted harpist Carrie Kourkoumelis began her career in Seattle, where she won the coveted Battelle Prize at seventeen, which included a debut recital for the Seattle critic's circle. She has appeared as a soloist, chamber musician, and held principal harp positions all over the United States and in Greece. She studied at The Curtis Institute of Music, the University of Washington, the Music Academy of the West, and the Tanglewood Music Center with Lynne Wainwright Palmer, Pamela Vokolek, Marilyn Costello, Bernard Zighera, and Suzanne Balderston. She is grateful for her excellent solo and chamber music coaching with many renowned musicians, including Rafael Druian, Eugene Lehner, Gunther Schuller, Gabor Rejto, Leonard Altman, and members of the original Philadelphia String Quartet.

After being awarded a Leonard Bernstein Fellowship at Tanglewood, she moved to Boston from Los Angeles where she had been a free-lance harpist in the movie studios (including Warner Brothers Studios), principal harpist of the Ventura Symphony, and held other principal harp positions in Massachusetts, Washington, Montana, California, and Alaska. In New England, she has been a soloist with such diverse groups as the Boston Cecilia Society, Master Singers and Alea III, and worked with the Boston Lyric Opera, Boston Ballet Orchestra, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, New Hampshire Symphony, Monadnock Music Festival, Springfield Symphony, and in Boston theater orchestras for many Broadway theater productions such as South Pacific, Beauty and the Beast, Phantom of the Opera, and Carousel. She has premiered many new works and played under the baton of Leonard Bernstein, Maurice Abravanel, and Gunther Schuller. She has appeared in concert with Leonard Rose, Eileen Farrell, D'Anna Fortunato, Jane Bryden, Sanford Sylvan, Joe Lovano, Ray Charles, Chet Atkins, Liza Minnelli, Dudley Moore, Brian Wilson, Connie Francis, and Ben Vereen. She was a founding member of the Music at Angel Fire Festival in New Mexico, with former Juilliard String Quartet First Violinist Joel Smirnoff, The Raphael Trio, (Cantor/Soprano) Betsey Peters, harpsichordist Elaine Comparone, oboist Burt Lucarelli, guitarist Dusan Bogdanovic.

As a solo recitalist and chamber musician, she has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Sanders Theater, the Gardner Museum, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University, and the J. Paul Getty Museum. She has played as a soloist for Supreme Court Justices, given lecture demonstrations in inner-city housing projects, and watched her harp airlifted into an open-air Venetian fort on the isle of Crete. Having won numerous awards, Carrie Kourkoumelis is called upon to judge national harp competitions and present workshops, including the American Harp Society National Competition and the Anne Adams Auditions. She presented a national workshop at USC with The Producers Music Director Don York on playing the harp for Broadway theater productions.

Ms. Kourkoumelis is a twice-elected member of the Melrose School Committee, President of the American Harp Society Foundation, Co-Director of the Anne Adams Competition. She served as a a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors for the American Harp Society including the chairperson for its first-ever sold-out AHS National Conference at Brandeis University with 750 harpists from all over the world, on the Massachusetts NOW Foundation Board and with numerous local organizations. She was Chairman of the City of Malden Cultural Council and the city's 350th Birthday Celebration mayoral appointee in charge of its Arts presentations. She works now in collaboration with various arts and civic foundations to bring music to those who cannot make it to the concert hall. Her entire family shared the same stage for the inaugural Healing Arts Program at Massachusetts General Hospital. Ms. Kourkoumelis has received major grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council for several concert series featuring the harp and chamber music that pioneered new modes of community outreach. A former adjunct faculty member at New England Conservatory Prep School, Mt. Holyoke, Smith Colleges, and the University of Montana, Carrie is presently the Director of The Classic Harps of New England and teaches primarily in her Melrose studio. Carrie and her husband Campbell Kaynor are grateful to be the parents of four, Arthur Diogenes, John Elias, Nickolas Edward and Efthalia Fay Kaynor, and their two standard poodles, Wellington and Danté.

Alexandra Perdew, Vice President

Alexandra Perdew has performed extensively throughout the North America and Europe as a soloist, with small ensembles, and as an orchestral harpist. She has appeared in several television shows such as General Hospital as well as performing with Hollywood scoring orchestras. She has also played with many shows including: Disney Fantasia Live, Johnny Mathis, The Celtic Woman, The Three Tenors, and South Pacific. Her playing, "Is filled with care, artistry, and mature interpretation. She is a talented musician, well rounded in her knowledge of music, and has a healthy curiosity in areas beyond music." (Donald Chen, conductor) "Everything I heard was sensitive, artistic, and had beautiful intonation." (Richard Ferrin, violist emeritus, Chicago Symphony Orchestra).

In addition to her distinguished work as a harpist, Alexandra has also served as the Ambassador for Salvi Harps in North America for the past eight years. She has given numerous master classes and workshops in addition to performing at National Harp Conferences and National and Regional music showcases. In her role as National Sales Manager, she also helped harpists from all over the world find their dream harps and learn to care for them. She was the Director of the Salvi Harps Summer Institute as well as the Salvi Harps Harp Ensembles.

Alexandra has been teaching harp around the country for fifteen years through her personal harp studio, at the Salvi Showroom in Southern California and as a Graduate Fellow at USC. She has also worked as a coach for the Orange County Youth Symphony, Asia America Youth Symphony, and Palos Verdes Regional Symphony Orchestra.

Alexandra Perdew currently teaches throughout the state of California and coaches many International pre-professional and professional harpists via Skype. Her students have participated in International competitions and play in many orchestras as well as being featured on the Grammys and other television broadcasts. Alexandra's students are currently attending the Eastman School of Music, Harvard University, Columbia University, Barnard College, Princeton University, Northwestern University, Boston College, University of Notre Dame, Purdue University, Vanderbilt University and DePauw University.

A strong supporter of the American Harp Society, Alexandra is currently the President of the Orange County Chapter, and serves as a Member of the Board of the American Harp Society Foundation. Alexandra is also co-chairman of the distinguished Anne Adams Awards Harp Competition of which she has been a Co-Director for fifteen years.

Alexandra received her Bachelor's Degree from DePauw University, her Master's Degree from Roosevelt University in Orchestral Studies, and did post-graduate work at the University of Southern California. Her teachers included Chicago Symphony/New York Philharmonic Principal Harpist Sarah Bullen, Sally Maxwell, and Chicago Symphony Solo Harpist Edward Druzinsky.

Penny Howk Beavers, Treasurer

Penny Howk Beavers is a harpist specializing in contemporary popular music. She began her study of the harp at age five, guided by her mother, in Joliet, Illinois, whose loving instruction provided a solid foundation for the future. Her classical training began with Sister M. Charles of Joliet, further expanded at Interlochen National Music Camp under the guidance of Charles Kleinstuber, where she was a Concerto Winner, and with Ruth Dean Clark at the University of Michigan, earning her degree in Music Performance. Penny was appointed Principal Harpist with the Fresno Philharmonic Orchestra, Bear Valley Music Festival and was also a recording harpist at George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch for many years. She performs and lectures throughout the United States and Europe, founded the Central California Chapter of the American Harp Society and has been active on the Board of Directors. Penny was the Banquet Soloist for the 25th American Harp Society National Convention in Denver, Colorado, has been a performer/lecturer for the Salvi Pop Festivals in Santa Barbara, California, the Florida Summer Harp Festival in Orlando, Florida and co-hosted and performed a special event at the International Pop and Jazz Harpfest in Tucson, Arizona. She also represented the US on a panel of guest speakers and performers at the World Harp Congress in Copenhagen, Denmark. Penny has four solo recordings and many solo harp arrangements published by Vanderbilt Music Company. She also has a music ministry at her church, teaches privately and performs on the central coast of California. She is a member of the Central Coast Wedding Professionals, the American Harp Society and the AHS Foundation, serving on the Board of Directors currently as Treasurer.

Holly Avesian, Secretary

Noted harpist Holly Avesian serves as Secretary on the Executive Committee of the American Harp Society Foundation Board of Directors. She comes to this position from a rich background as professional harpist and educator, having earned both her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Music Performance and Education at the University of Michigan under Ruth Dean Clarke. Her teaching experience includes training in Suzuki methodology and she regularly participates and presents at professional conferences and workshops.

Ms. Avesian has performed with numerous professional orchestras on the East Coast and in the Washington, DC, area, the Richmond Symphony, as well as throughout Michigan. Her background includes considerable work as a theater harpist, having done productions at the Kennedy Center, National and Warner Theaters, Arena Stage, Signature Theater and Shakespeare Theater. She also has credentials in the commercial recording industry, including movies and commercials. Holly's Lyra Ensemble, comprised of harp and other instruments in various combinations such as harp and flute and/or violin/cello/voice has performed widely and for many years.

Holly has been a frequent performer and entertainer both as a soloist and in collaboration with other musicians. She is frequently heard at numerous embassies, the Library of Congress, United States Capitol Building, Blair House, Constitution Hall, The Kennedy Center, Strathmore Concert Hall, Wolftrap, US State Department National Cathedral, National Gallery of Art, The United States Supreme Court and the Smithsonian Museums. She has entertained several United States Presidents, and she has performed at several U.S. presidential inaugurations and national tree lightings, ceremonies for visiting foreign dignitaries, numerous celebrities, and internationally respected musicians over the years. Private events have taken her to historic sites, private homes, businesses, galleries, national museums, major hotels and conference centers and places of worship. She has played for well over one thousand weddings and been a featured performer for the American Harp Society, Flute Society and American Guild of Organists conference events, in addition to holding permanent positions at the Tower Club and the Kennedy Center.

Holly Avesian's publications of arrangements for harp and flute/violin, harp and choirs, harp and solo vocalists are eagerly sought out by harpists across the globe. In addition to her executive role with the American Harp Society Foundation, she is a respected member of the American Harp Society, American Federation of Musicians, American String Teachers Association, Music Teachers National Association, Music Clubs of America, and many other professional associations.

Kathleen Bride

Kathleen Bride joined the Eastman faculty in 1989, only the third professor of harp since the School's founding in 1921.

Bride has appeared as recitalist in London and the Netherlands, in addition to appearances in major cities across the U.S. She has been guest recitalist at the Cheltenham International Festival of Music, the Maria Korchinska International Harp Competition, Holland Harp Week, American Harp Society National Conference, and Lincoln Center Project. As solo harpist on a European tour with the Juilliard Ensemble of Contemporary Music and composer Luciano Berio, Bride recorded contemporary chamber music on the Philips and RCA Victor Labels.

Since 1978, Bride and organist Jon Gillock have toured the U.S. as duo-recitalists. Bride also performs as part of a touring duo with British flutist Judith Pearce. She has been soloist with Colonial Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, Ridgewood Chamber Orchestra, Wayne Chamber Orchestra, Scranton Philharmonic, and Korean Chamber Ensemble.

In addition to her extensive teaching and performance activities, she has served as juror for the International Harp Contest (Israel), the USA International Harp Competition, and the Conservatoire de Musique de Quebec Concours.

Bride is a member of the visiting faculty of the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England, and has conducted numerous master classes throughout the U.S. and Britain. Prior to her appointment at Eastman, she was chairman of the harp department at Manhattan School of Music. She has been artist in residence at both the Universities of Puerto Rico and Hawaii.

Bride is a graduate of Marywood College (PA), and The Juilliard School.

Dr. Jaymee Haefner

Jaymee Haefner's performances have been described by Daniel Buckley as possessing "an air of dreamy lyricism … interlocking melody lines with the deftness of a dancer's footwork." Jaymee has taught at the University of North Texas (UNT) since 2006 and was appointed as Director of Undergraduate Studies for the College of Music in 2010. She was featured at the 50th Anniversary American Harp Society (AHS) National Conference in New York City, the 2014 AHS National Conference in New Orleans, the 2016 AHS National Conference in Atlanta, she has also performed throughout the Dallas.Fort Worth area, in Mexico, the Czech Republic and Russia. Her recordings include features with the Bloomington Pops Orchestra, baritone Daniel Narducci and Alfredo Rolando Ortiz. She published a biography entitled The Legend of Henriette Renié and presented lectures at the 2014 World Harp Congress (WHC) in Sydney, the 2008 WHC in Amsterdam and the 2009 AHS Institute in Salt Lake City. Jaymee was Chairman of the 2011 AHS Institute and has served as the Treasurer for the World Harp Congress (WHC) and the National Harp Associations Liaison for the WHC Review publication. Dr. Haefner's projects include a "Better than One" duo with harpist Emily Mitchell and her "Crimson" duo with violinist Matt Milewski, including recent commissions for violin and harp. She obtained her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from the University of Arizona and her Doctor of Music degree from Indiana University. When she isn't on stage, Dr. Haefner trains in karate with her son, and earned her first degree black belt in 2015.

Richard Hunter

Richard Hunter is an honors graduate of the University of Florida School of Music, where he studied both Organ and Harp, beginning his study of the Harp with Clementine White. He completed his graduate work at Boston University, where he was a student of the legendary harpist and teacher, Lucile Lawrence.

After completing his six-year course of study with Miss Lawrence, Richard then pursued his Juris Doctor degree and embarked upon a career specializing in Employment and Labor Law. He is currently Managing Director of The Human Resources Advisory Group, a consulting firm that manages the human capital aspects of mergers and acquisitions in private equity- and venture capital-backed transactions.

Eileen Mason

Born in San Diego, Eileen Beermann Mason began studying harp with her mother and subsequently with Mary Alyn Jones. She attended the Music Academy of the West and has a B.M. in Harp from the University of Redlands (CA) where her major teacher was Marjorie Call. Other teachers include Lucile Lawrence, Anna Bukay, Joel Andrews and Linda Wellbaum.

Eileen has held principal harp positions with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Kansas City Philharmonic and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, from which she retired in 2002. Other orchestral and solo experience includes the Festival de Jeunes Solistes in Nice, France, the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, Ft. Wayne (Ind) Philharmonic, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She was principal harp for many years in the Aspen Festival Orchestra and the Aspen Chamber Orchestra. A Lifetime Member of the AHS, Eileen has been responsible for creating American Harp Society chapters in Kansas City and in Baltimore. Under her leadership, the Baltimore Charm City Chapter won Chapter of the Year in 2001-2002.

Irma Merrill

Irma Merrill Stratton is a lawyer practicing in Memphis, Tennessee. She began playing the harp as an adult. Her harp teachers were Linda Wilson and Elizabeth Cobb Houston. She loves playing the harp and enjoys composing for the harp. Her law practice focuses on civil litigation, trust and probate work.






Paula Page

Paula Page, born in Odessa, Texas and raised in Philadelphia, joined the Houston Symphony as Principal Harpist in 1984 and retired from that position in 2014. Prior to her Houston appointment, she was a member of the Pittsburgh Symphony in the dual positions of harpist and keyboard artist.

A graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music, Miss Page began her career as Principal Harpist of the Oklahoma Symphony Orchestra. She has been guest harpist with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony and the Cleveland Orchestra, and is Principal Harpist of the Grand Teton Music Festival. Miss Page is a frequent participant in various chamber music series in Houston and has been featured at several national conferences of the American Harp Society and at three meetings of the World Harp Congress. She has served as a judge for numerous competitions including the ASTA (American String Teachers Association) and the Corpus Christi International competition. In 2006 Miss Page was honored to receive the Alumni Achievement Award from the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Always eager to combine performance and pedagogy, she has served on the faculties of the University of Oklahoma, Temple University Institute, Carnegie-Mellon University, Interlochen Arts Camp and is currently Associate Professor of Harp at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University and the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston. She has been an Adjunct Professor at Sam Houston State University since 2013. During the summer she is a member of the faculty at the Texas Music Festival and the International Festival-Institute at Round Top. This combining of performing and teaching careers follows in the pattern of her two main mentors, Alice Chalifoux (Cleveland Orchestra) and Edna Phillips (Philadelphia Orchestra).

Miss Page has two children, Kathleen Fossan and Brendan Fay and three grandchildren, Samantha Fossan, Madeleine Fay and Maxim Fay.

Rebecca Todaro, AHS Liaison

A professional harpist who calls New Orleans home, Ms. Todaro teaches students of all ages. Drawing on pedagogical traditions from our shared harp history, she focuses on each student's strengths to further encourage their musical growth and love of the harp. Ms. Todaro developed a curriculum for school age children in 4th through 12th grades at the Runnels School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; using a combination of technique drills, theory lessons, solo studies and ensemble projects the program introduced dozens of kids to harp study.

Rebecca Todaro studied with Elizabeth Roth and Ann Benjamin; she earned a BM and MM from Louisiana State University, and won third prize in the 1996 AHS Competition Young Professional Division. Ms. Todaro has served on the board of the USA International Harp Competition and currently serves on the AHS Board of Directors as Treasurer. She is honored to serve the American Harp Society Foundation as a liaison board member.


Founders, Emeritus

SALLY MAXWELL, 1935–2013

Coming from a family of musicians, it was natural that Sally Maxwell, harpist and teacher, became a member of the American Harp Society from its beginning. Her mother, Doris Helen Calkins was an outstanding harpist who started the first harp class at the University of Oregon in 1935.

Sally Maxwell began studies of the harp under her mother. As a child, she particularly loved playing her small Clark Irish harp as a young member of the university harp ensemble. As she grew, she played harp at her school and often played as a duo with her mother at churches and musical events.

She later studied with Mildred Dilling, Marcel Grandjany and as a student, she spent a year in Paris, France where she was able to study with the famous harpist and teacher, Henriette Renié. As a student of the University of Oregon in her Junior Year, she returned to Oregon.

After marriage, she taught students in Portland, OR and played with the Portland Opera as well as playing for Broadway Musicals orchestras, etc. With her family, she spent two years in the San Diego area, playing in local orchestras, musicals and concerts while her husband Winston Maxwell was assigned as a doctor during the Vietnam War.

Sally returned to Eugene where she began a twenty-year teaching career at the University of Oregon while continuing her performing career at the Eugene Symphony and orchestras throughout Oregon. She assumed leadership roles in the American Harp Society from its earliest days, serving as Northwest Regional Director, as a member of the AHS Board of Directors, on the Board of Readers for the AH Journal, and Chairman of the Harp Literature committee. She also served as Vice President of the AHS prior to serving as President from 1986-1988 and again from 1994-1998.

As many people know, her mother Doris Calkins made it possible for the "Ruth Lorraine Close Awards" to be given to three young harpists annually/nationally through the American Harp Society and the University of Oregon. Sally organized this competition each year. When those awards were no longer possible, she worked with Burton Adams to create and continue the "Anne Adams Awards."

Sally served as President of the AHS Foundation, a separate non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to support the educational activities of the AHS. The Foundation manages donations from harp-loving benefactors who may invest in specific programs or scholarship awards guaranteeing the continuance of such programs in perpetuity.

Wenonah Milton Govea

Wenonah Govea is Professor Emeritus of Music at California State University in Hayward. She is a composer, performer, and teacher and has shared her talent with her community as director of numerous local honor choirs as well as introducing harp in the public schools. She also established her university's harp program, expanding it to include a harp ensemble which performed professionally. She initiated the American Harp Society Summer Institute for student harpists and was instrumental in the formation of the American Harp Society Foundation. As a scholar, she is the author o Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Harpists: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook (Bio-Critical Sourcebooks on Musical Performance).



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