Biography

Harpist Colleen Potter Thorburn’s playing, acclaimed as “full of spirit and sensitivity” (Greenwich Citizen), “engrossing,” and “winning” (The New London Day), has earned her national recognition as a winner of the American Harp Society’s Anne Adams competition. She currently performs as Principal Harp with the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra in New London, Connecticut, with whom she recently performed Ginastera’s harp concerto as a soloist; performs as a harp substitute with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Richmond Symphony Orchestra; and performs regularly with the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra. Previously, she held the principal harp position with Symphony Nova (formerly the Neponset Valley Philharmonic Orchestra) in Boston MA, with whom she has also appeared as a concerto soloist. She has also performed as a harp fellow at the Aspen Mu­sic Festival, as a young artist at the International Festival-Institute at Round Top TX, and as an artist-in-residence at the Atlantic Music Festival in Waterville ME.

In addition to her orchestral engagements, Colleen is a dedicated chamber musi­cian who is particularly devoted to new music involving the harp. Her horn and harp duo Apple Orange Pair, founded in 2010 with hornist Emily Boyer, focuses on reviving, transcribing, performing, and commissioning new repertoire for French horn and harp. Apple Orange Pair’s first full-length recorded album, Seeds, was released in November 2013. The duo has presented performances of new works, many commissioned by Emily and Colleen, at regional and national horn and harp conferences, including Mid-Atlantic Harp Day in Philadelphia, the Northeast Horn Workshop at Pennsylvania State University, the American Harp Society’s 11th National Summer Institute at Utah State University, and the International Horn Symposium at Ithaca College.

Colleen is on the music faculties of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond and Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, and in the summer, she teaches as founding harp faculty at Coda Mountain Academy in Fayetteville, West Virginia. She currently both harp and musicianship courses at the college level. An active proponent of regional harp activities in southern Appalachia, Colleen served as president of the new Southwest Virginia chapter of the American Harp Society from 2014 to 2016 and is active throughout the state of Virginia as a Touring Artist with the Virginia Commission for the Arts. She previously taught harp and piano through Bluefield College’s Fine Arts Community School in southwest Virginia. She lives in Petersburg, Virginia, with her husband, bass-baritone Benjamin Thorburn, with whom she frequently collaborates in concert.

Colleen is the first harpist to have earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Yale School of Music. She also holds both Master of Musical Arts and Master of Music degrees from Yale, where she studied with June Han, and a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Illinois in Champaign where she studied with Ann Yeung. She began her harp studies at age 11 in St. Louis with Laura Hearne. Additional teachers and mentors include Nancy Allen, Deborah Hoffman, Lisa Wellbaum, Faye Seeman, and Paula Page.

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