March 30 Symphony Features Acclaimed Harpist

On Saturday, March 30, at 7:30 p.m. in the Orpheum Theatre, the Knox-Galesburg Symphony features acclaimed harpist Faye Seeman, principal harpist of the Chicago Sinfonietta and Joffrey Ballet Orchestras and a founder of the Kithara Trio (flute, cello and harp). Along with several colleagues from the Chicago Jazz community, she also established the ZigZag Harp Quartet (harp, piano, bass and drums) which explores an eclectic blend of jazz, classical and new age styles of music.

For Saturday’s concert, Seeman will perform two pieces. One is a famous setting of the popular Elizabethan air “Greensleeves” by English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. The other is “Ennanga” for Harp, Piano and String Orchestra by African American composer William Grant Still. Ennanga is the only work Still composed for the harp, and even though the harp, piano, and strings have relatively equal roles in the music, the choice of title — the Ugandan word for a miniature harp — makes that instrument’s special significance clear. Still wrote it with input from Lois Adele Craft, a harp virtuoso and friend, who also gave the premiere in Los Angeles. Ennanga is in three movements: in the first, listen for the way the percussive textures in the harp and piano offset rhythmically charged statements from the strings; in the second, the harp sings a melancholy tune accompanied by the other instruments; and the third features the harp’s characteristic glissandi.

Also featured on Saturday’s program will be music from the height of the classical era by two composers who were also good friends, Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf and Franz Joseph Haydn. The concert will begin with von Dittersdorf’s “Esther” Overture, based on a text that recounts the biblical story of Esther, and will end with Haydns’ Symphony No. 99 in E-flat major, one of the twelve “London Symphonies” that were written in anticipation of Haydns’ second trip to that city.

Tickets are available from the Orpheum Theatre Ticket Office (250 East Main Street, ph. 309-342-2299), online at, or at the door concert night.