Yolanda Kondonassis

Biography

Born: 1965; Norman, OK  
American harpist Yolanda Kondonassis is one of the world's most famous players of her instrument.

At home in Oklahoma, she turned to music early, starting piano at the age of three. This was a matter of family talent coming down to her; Yolanda's mother was also a pianist and carefully watched her development. On a trip to Chicago at the age of nine, Yolanda saw the window display of the Lyon & Healy music store, one of the world's
Read more leading manufacturers of harps. The loveliness of the display appealed to her, and she asked for harp lessons as well. She did not give up piano, but studied both instruments through high school.

She says the piano was "neck and neck" with the harp as her ultimate choice. The choice was made by a several factors. One was that she had a facility for developing the particular muscles that are used in harp playing (and virtually nothing else). Another was that she loved the sensation of creating the music directly by her own fingers on the strings. And she felt that she could contribute more as a harpist.

At age 14, she began boarding at the Interlochen Arts Academy. Her higher education was at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Her teacher there was Alice Chalifoux, the principal harpist of the Cleveland Orchestra. Kondonassis obtained both her bachelor's and master's degrees at Curtis.

A competition win gained her a young artists' debut prize as a soloist with Zubin Mehta and the New York Philharmonic. She obtained regular employment as an orchestral harpist (and has held this job with the Cleveland Orchestra, the St. Louis Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, and the Atlanta Symphony). In 1987 she won the top prize in the Affiliate Artists National Auditions, which enabled her to tour for five years. She developed a type of program she called "informances," where she plays music, makes light commentary, and also interacts with the audience.

She plays all the regular harp repertory, and has recorded much of it. Her Sky Music CD was one of the Ten Best Classical CDs of 1996 in the estimation of the New York Daily News. Her recording of the Mozart Flute and Harp Concerto with the English Chamber Orchestra was released in 1997. She has recorded major twentieth century works featuring the harp by Salzedo, Ginastera, Miyagi, and Hovhaness. She has also made transcriptions (including one of Vivaldi's Four Seasons), commissioned new works, and has begun to compose in her own right. Among the composers who have written music for her are George Rochberg and Donald Erb. She is interested in contradicting the stereotyped idea of the harp as an "angelic," "heavenly," or "impressionistic" instrument; one of the movements of the sonata Erb wrote for her is called Dirty Rotten Scherzo.

Kondonassis also has an academic career, and is now the head of the harp departments at both the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Oberlin College Conservatory. She is married to Michael Sachs, the trumpet soloist of the Cleveland Orchestra. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 28 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Ravel: Intimate Masterpieces
    Label: Oberlin Music   Catalog: 4 Release Date: 10/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Alexa Still,  Richard Hawkins,  Yolanda Kondonassis,  Spencer Myer  ... 
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  • 2.
    American Harp / Yolanda Kondonassis
    Label: Azica   Catalog: 71281 Release Date: 06/25/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John T. Williams,  Hannah Lash,  Lowell Liebermann,  Stephen Paulus  ... 
    Performer:  Yolanda Kondonassis
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  • 3.
    Solo Harp: The Best Of Yolanda Kondonassis
    Label: Azica   Catalog: 71273 Release Date: 04/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gabriel Pierné,  Carlos Salzedo,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  George Gershwin  ... 
    Performer:  Yolanda Kondonassis
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  • 4.
    Larry Hoffman: Contemporary American Music
    Label: Dbk Works   Catalog: 701 Release Date: 01/17/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Larry Hoffman
    Performer:  Kristin Ostling,  Andrew Balio,  David Depeters,  Bryan Dumm  ... 
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  • 5.
    Never Far Away - Music Of Bright Sheng
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80719 Release Date: 08/25/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bright Sheng
    Performer:  Yolanda Kondonassis
    Conductor:  Jahja Ling
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Diego Symphony Orchestra
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  • 6.
    Air - Debussy & Takemitsu / Kondonassis
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80694 Release Date: 10/28/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Toru Takemitsu
    Performer:  Yolanda Kondonassis,  Cynthia Phelps,  Joshua Smith
    Conductor:  Bridget-Michaele Reischl
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Oberline 21
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  • 7.
    Beautiful Wedding - Prelude - Mozart, Handel, Pachelbel, Etc
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80716 Release Date: 05/20/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Pachelbel,  Johann Christoph Pezel,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Yolanda Kondonassis,  Robert McDuffie,  William Tritt,  Allan Vogel
    Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin,  Erich Kunzel,  Martin Pearlman,  Keith Clark  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Louis Symphony Orchestra,  Empire Brass,  Cincinnati Pops  ... 
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  • 8.
    Salzedo's Harp - Music Of Carlos Salzedo / Kondonassis
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80691 Release Date: 10/23/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Carlos Salzedo
    Performer:  Yolanda Kondonassis,  Kathryn Brown
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  • 9.
    Christmas Break - A Relaxing Classical Mix
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80687 Release Date: 09/25/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Harold Edwin Darke,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Charles Gounod  ... 
    Performer:  Yolanda Kondonassis,  Michael Chertock,  Laurie Monahan
    Conductor:  Robert Shaw,  Leonard Slatkin,  Craig Jessop
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Robert Shaw Chamber Singers,  St. Louis Symphony Orchestra,  Mormon Tabernacle Choir  ... 
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  • 10.
    La Belle France - Music Inspired By France
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80653 Release Date: 04/26/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gabriel Fauré,  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel,  Erik Satie  ... 
    Performer:  Yolanda Kondonassis,  Judith Blegen,  John O'Conor,  Elly Ameling  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin,  Robert Shaw,  Neeme Järvi
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Louis Symphony Orchestra,  Atlanta Symphony Orchestra,  Atlanta Symphony Chorus  ... 
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  • 11.
    Bella Tuscany - Music Inspired By Tuscany
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80644 Release Date: 06/22/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Pietro Mascagni,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Tomaso Albinoni  ... 
    Performer:  Paul Patterson,  Yolanda Kondonassis,  Angel Romero,  Fernando De La Mora
    Conductor:  Erich Kunzel,  Rudolf Werthen,  Sir Charles Mackerras,  Louis Lane  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cincinnati Pops,  Orchestra of Flanders,  May Festival Chorus  ... 
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  • 12.
    Debussy's Harp / Yolanda Kondonassis
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80622 Release Date: 11/25/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Yolanda Kondonassis
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  • 13.
    The Best Of Chopin
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80629 Release Date: 11/25/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin
    Performer:  Malcolm Frager,  Jon Kimura Parker,  John O'Conor,  Yolanda Kondonassis  ... 
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  • 14.
    The Romantic Harp / Yolanda Kondonassis
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80581 Release Date: 01/28/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gabriel Pierné,  Carlos Salzedo,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Yolanda Kondonassis
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  • 15.
    Music For A Perfect Day / Yolanda Kondonassis, Et Al
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80590 Release Date: 03/26/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  George Frideric Handel,  Domenico Scarlatti,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Yolanda Kondonassis
    Conductor:  Rudolf Werthen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of Flanders
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  • 16.
    The Best Of Bach
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80591 Release Date: 11/27/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Patricia Maybe,  Michael Murray,  Vincent Charbonnier,  Jacques Loussier  ... 
    Conductor:  Keith Clark,  Martin Pearlman,  Robert Shaw,  Jahja Ling  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Concerts du Monde,  Jacques Loussier Trio,  Boston Baroque  ... 
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  • 17.
    Quietude - Satie, Debussy, Chopin, Et Al / Kondonassis
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80533 Release Date: 04/24/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Carlos Salzedo,  Jean Sibelius,  Frédéric Chopin,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Yolanda Kondonassis
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  • 18.
    Hovhaness: Concerto For Harp, Etc / Kondonassis, Et Al
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80530 Release Date: 04/25/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alan Hovhaness
    Performer:  Yolanda Kondonassis,  Eugenia Zukerman,  Frank Hendrickx,  Herwig Coryn  ... 
    Conductor:  Rudolf Werthen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Fiamminghi
    CD: $16.99
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  • 19.
    Vivaldi: The Four Seasons / Kondonassis, Werthen, Et Al
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80523 Release Date: 10/26/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Yolanda Kondonassis
    Conductor:  Rudolf Werthen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of Flanders
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  • 20.
    Pictures Of The Floating World / Yolanda Kondonassis
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80488 Release Date: 06/16/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Yolanda Kondonassis,  Traditional,  Michio Miyagi,  Alphonse Hasselmans  ... 
    Performer:  Yolanda Kondonassis
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  • 21.
    The Complete Wedding Album - There Is Love
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80490 Release Date: 04/28/1998   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Richard Wagner,  Samuel Barber,  Ralph Vaughan Williams  ... 
    Performer:  Angel Romero,  Joseph Silverstein,  Larry Cooperman,  Michael Chertock  ... 
    Conductor:  Robert Shaw,  Erich Kunzel,  Leonard Slatkin,  Keith Clark  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Atlanta Symphony Chorus,  Atlanta Symphony Orchestra,  Cincinnati Pops  ... 
    CD: $12.99
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  • 22.
    Dream Season - The Christmas Harp / Yolanda Kondonassis
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80446 Release Date: 09/23/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gloria Shayne Baker,  John Henry Hopkins Jr.,  Yolanda Kondonassis,  Traditional  ... 
    Performer:  Yuri Konje,  Yolanda Kondonassis
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  • 23.
    Yolanda Kondonassis - Sky Music
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80418 Release Date: 06/25/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Carlos Salzedo,  Claude Debussy,  Ned Rorem,  Alan Hovhaness  ... 
    Performer:  Yolanda Kondonassis
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  • 24.
    A New Baroque - Pachelbel's Canon / Yolanda Kondonassis
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80403 Release Date: 11/08/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Georg Philipp Telemann,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Domenico Scarlatti,  Johann Pachelbel  ... 
    Performer:  Yolanda Kondonassis
    CD: $11.99
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  • 25.
    Classics For All Seasons - Autumn
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80327 Release Date: 08/24/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  César Franck,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Bedrich Smetana  ... 
    Performer:  John Korman,  Beverly Schiebler,  John Sant'Ambrogio,  Thomas Dumm  ... 
    Conductor:  Erich Kunzel,  Jesús Lopez-Cobos,  Leonard Slatkin,  Zdenek Macal  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cincinnati Pops,  Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra,  St. Louis Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    ArkivCD $16.99
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