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Harpy Hour, May 29th


Join host Grace Browning, RPO Principal Harpist and this week's co-host Classical 91.5's Julia Figueras on Friday, May 29 from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. for the sixth in a series of Harpy Hours LIVE on WXXI's Facebook page. In this Harpy Hour, Grace ands Julia will be joined by Ward Stare, RPO's Music Director and Conductor; Rebecca Gilbert, RPO Principal Flutist; and Yolanda Kondonassis, one of the world’s premier solo harpists. Get a taste of Yolanda's talent before Friday! Enjoy a NPR Favorite Session "Yolanda Kondonassis: Impressions of the Harp" by clicking here

Harpy Hour is an online, virtual series that presents live musical performances, special guests, great conversation, trivia, and a featured establishment/local beverage! This week's featured local establishment is TBA.



More about your Harpy Hour Host

Grace Browning
Grace Browning

Grace Browning is RPO Principal Harpist. An avid opera harpist, Grace performed four seasons as Principal Harpist with the Dallas Opera and continues to perform with the Santa Fe Opera for their summer season. She has also performed regularly with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra and, most notably, with the Houston Symphony Orchestra as Guest Principal Harpist during their 2017-2018 season and European tour. Grace attended the Eastman School of Music from 2005 to 2007, received her undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan in 2009, and finished her education at The Juilliard School, where she received her masters degree in 2011. She is also a New World Symphony Alum. To learn more about Grace visit her website by clicking here.

Julia Figueras
Julia Figueras

  Julia Figueras is Music Director and Mid-Day Host for Classical 91.5. She is also the producer and host for the award-winning monthly interview/performance show, Backstage Pass. Figueras began her radio life in 1980 at WICN in Worcester, MA, and has been playing formats ranging from classical to rock to jazz, with a dash of talk in Boston, MA as well as at stations in Concord and Portsmouth, NH.  She received her bachelor's degree in theater, cum laude, from Brandeis University.

Currently, Figueras sits on the Board of Directors for the Penfield Symphony Orchestra with her husband, Peter Iglinski, and holds an honorary seat on the Amadeus Children's Chorale board. Previously, she spent 10 years on the Board of the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. Figueras also writes the WXXI Classical Music e-Newsletter. Sign up here!

More about the artists:


Ward Stare
Ward Stare

Ward Stare Hailed by the Chicago Tribune as “a rising star in the conducting firmament,” Stare was appointed the 12th music director of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in 2014. He has been praised for “inspiring musicians to impressive heights” by The New York Times, and as “a dynamic music director” by Rochester’s CITY Newspaper.

Stare made his debut with the Metropolitan Opera in 2017, conducting nine performances of Franz Lehár’s The Merry Widow, with Grammy-winning mezzo-soprano Susan Graham in the title role. Stare’s frequent collaborations with the Lyric Opera of Chicago began in 2012, conducting a production of Hansel and Gretel, returning in 2013 for Die Fledermaus, and again in 2014 to lead Porgy and Bess to rave reviews. Stare served as resident conductor of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra from 2008 to 2012 and, in 2009, made his highly successful Carnegie Hall debut with the orchestra, stepping in to lead H. K. Gruber’s Frankenstein!! Stare has enjoyed an ongoing relationship with the SLSO and frequently returns as a guest.

To read Stare's full bio, click here.

Yolanda Kondonassis

Yolanda Kondonassis is celebrated as one of the world’s premier solo harpists and is widely regarded as today’s most recorded classical harpist. Hailed as “viscerally exciting” (The Chicago Tribune) and a “brilliant and expressive player” (The Dallas Morning News), she has performed around the globe as a concerto soloist and in recital, bringing her unique brand of musicianship and warm artistry to an ever-increasing audience. Also a published author, speaker, professor of harp, and environmental activist, she weaves her many passions into a vibrant and multi- faceted career.

Kondonassis has sold hundreds of thousands of albums and downloads worldwide and her extensive discography includes over twenty titles. She continues to be a pioneering force in the harp world, striving to make her instrument more accessible to audiences and push the boundaries of what listeners expect of the harp. She was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Classical Instrumental Solo for the world premiere recording of Jennifer Higdon’s Harp Concerto with The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (Azica Records, 2019). Her 2008 album of music by Takemitsu and Debussy, Air (Telarc), was also nominated for a Grammy Award.

To read Kondonassis' full bio, click here.

Rebecca Gilbert
Rebecca Gilbert

  Rebecca Gilbert joined the RPO as principal flute (The Charlotte Whitney Allen Chair) in the 1996-97 season. As a regularly featured soloist, her expressive and versatile playing has illuminated the RPO’s Philharmonics and Pops Series performances. She has performed as acting principal flute of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and guest assistant principal flute with the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood. Previous appointments include principal flute of the Charleston Symphony and second flute of the Dayton Philharmonic.

To read Gilbert's full bio, click here.

Special thanks to Harpy Hour proud partner: