2023 Featured Young Composers

The Young Composers Project takes place June 1-4, 2023, as part of the AHS Summer Institute at the Colburn School, Los Angeles. The program is open to harpists aged 25 and under who are national members of the American Harp Society. The Young Composers Project offers an opportunity for young harpist/composers to work with professional mentors to experience, explore, and develop a deep connection to the harp through composition.

Featured Young Composers of the 2023 Young Composers Project

Hannah Chen

Hannah Chen is a 16 year old harpist and composer from the San Francisco Bay Area, California. She currently attends Oakland School for the Arts and San Francisco Conservatory of Music Pre-College, studying harp with Jennifer Ellis and composition with Mario Godoy and Lukáš Janata. Hannah serves as the principal harpist of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra and has also been the harpist for the Contra Costa Wind Symphony. She is a two time 1st prize winner in the BACHAS Yvonne LaMothe Schwager Competition, has won 1st in the United States International Music Competition, 1st in the New York International Young Musician Competition, 1st in the Charleston International Baroque Competition, the grand prize in the Prodigy International Music Competition as well as top prizes in the US Open Music Competition and the American Harp Society National Competition. She has also been a member of Music at the Mission’s Chamberfest and been a performer in the East Bay Music Festival. As a composer, Hannah has been in programs such as the Argus Quartet Composers Institute, Wildflower Composers Camp, and Luna Composition Lab, where she was selected for the 2022-2023 season to study under inti figgis-vizueta. Her works have received prizes from the Bay Area Creative Foundation Creative Youth Awards, SFCM Pre-College Kris Getz competition, and the National YoungArts Foundation.

Alice Han

Alice Han is a 9-year-old girl who started learning piano and harp at the age of 4, under Ms Emily Wu on piano and Ms Rosanna Chiu on harp. She has a passion for composing her own songs on both instruments and enjoys singing. She recently won first and second place in the local Kiwanis competitions (2022 and 2023) and second place in the Arpademia International Competition for Celtic Harp 2023, where she also received a diploma for her musicality.

Besides being an instrumentalist, Alice enjoys singing in the choir and recently, her creativity and passion for singing had led her to be the youngest cast member (as the Flounder!) of the Little Mermaid Jr. Musical at her elementary school.

Emma Lau

Emma Lau is a 13 year old girl who lives in British Columbia, Canada.  Emma started learning harp with Rosanna Chiu in 2016. During her 5 years of music, she has won Most Outstanding Performance at the VAYA International Festivals, was placed second in the very first Harplympic Games hosted by World Harp Day, and has participated in various other music festivals and concerts. She has also composed a song for the Deep Sea Adventure Music Book, which raises money for the BC Children’s Hospital. Often after practice, you can find her playing improv and composing little tunes to listen to. 

When she is not playing the harp, she is most likely reading, solving puzzles, or crocheting.

Ari Schwartz

Ariel Sol “Ari” Bertulfo Schwartz (2000) is at the cutting edge of musical arts as a composer, producer, and harpist. A force of artistic integrity, he strives to channel innovation toward facilitating community and diversifying both stage and audience. Through his synthesis of practices and identities, Ari brings a genre-defying, multimedia approach to the music of today.

Ari recently graduated from the Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington, Indiana, where he earned bachelor’s degrees in composition and harp while pursuing concentrations in entrepreneurship, electronic music, folklore/ethnomusicology, and mathematics. Winner of the 7th USA International Harp Competition Ruth Inglefield Composition Contest and 2023 SEAMUS (Society for Electroacoustic Music in the United States) Allen Strange Award, Ari’s music can be heard worldwide. A rising performer, Ari was featured as a 2022 Young Artist in Residence on American Public Media’s Performance Today. He has also played such events as Lyon & Healy’s 2016 Scholarship Competition Winner’s Recital and the American Harp Society’s 2017 Young Composers Project Recital.

Eileen Shafer

Eileen C.K. Shafer is a multi-award winning harpist, teacher, and composer with a passion for bringing the joy of the harp to others.  As an avid performing artist, she puts her heart into all of her artistic endeavors.  She first fell in love with the stage at age four during her first dance recital and bought her first harp (named Cecilia) at age nine.  These two events set the course for what would turn into a harpist’s career.  After only nine months of in-person lessons, Eileen’s harp teacher unexpectedly quit teaching due to life circumstances.  With no other teachers within close proximity, the then crazy idea of virtual lessons soon became a weekly reality that continues to this day.  As of spring 2023, Eileen is only one of two Certified Clinical Musicians (CCMs) through the Harp for Healing program in the state of Missouri.  Whenever she is not at the harp, Eileen can often be found drawing, sewing garments, dancing, acting in theatrical productions, or pursuing her long-time hobby of filmmaking.  Learn more about Eileen at fineworksofharp.com.

Sabrina Vaughn

From Pendleton, Kentucky

Stella Joy Wilson

Stella Joy Wilson, aged 8, began her formal musical journey with piano at five years of age. She started asking, then pleading, and eventually begging for a harp and lessons after seeing a performer at a renaissance festival. Hailing from the desert of Arizona, Stella keeps it cool in her virtual lessons with Kela Walton.

Catch all of them in concert on Sunday, June 4th!

Harp / Cello Workshop

Join Cellist Greg Adamson and harpists of the Young Composers Project Committee in a workshop on Saturday June 3 on writing/arranging for harp and cello duet!

We will be answering questions, trying out pieces and talking through notation.  All are welcome!

If you have an original piece or an arrangement you would like to be considered for the workshop, email harphands@gmail.com by May 20 with a PDF of your piece and any specific questions you have. We will play through and workshop as many as we have time for!

Make a Video for the Summer Institute

You're invited to compose or improvise the soundtrack to a 15-30 second video of your own creation! Use this link to submit by May 20, and we'll share it like a movie premiere at the Summer Institute as part of one of our workshop sessions. For more information.  

All the submitted videos and the accompanying music will be presented on Saturday, June 3rd at the Members Music Video Presentations workshop and at the end of the Young Composers Recital on Sunday, June 4th!