“First and foremost, we are all musicians and unique individuals. I strive to encourage, guide, mentor, and prepare young harpists for success in a rapidly changing world.” – JoAnn Turovsky
In September, the American Harp Society honored one of its most active members – JoAnn Turovsky – with its Lifetime Achievement Award. Turovsky, who serves as the Principal Harpist in the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra (as well as the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and the Los Angeles Master Chorale and Sinfonia Orchestra) has spent a lifetime not only playing an instrument she loves, but also spreading her passion for the harp to students at the University of Southern California‘s Thornton School of Music and the Colburn School of Music.
Turovsky’s love of the harp started early and led to years of study and mastering of the craft. In 1972, she won the American Harp Society’s National Competition and three years later became one of the youngest board members. “Being a participant gave me an interesting perspective as an administer of the competition,” says Turovsky.
Turovsky’s extensive resume is varied, including everything from teaching (for which she has been recognized by the American String Teacher’s Association with an Artist’s Teacher Award in Harp) to playing for Hollywood film scores. She’s a “first call” for many of these assignments, including a solo piece composed by John Williams for the film, Angela’s Ashes. Her playing can also be heard in a plethora of household name films: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Toy Story, War of the Worlds, Avatar, and even Star Wars: The Force Awakens (a film which continues to break box office records weeks after opening).
Yet, opera holds a special place in Turovsky’s heart. Of being the Principal Harpist at LA Opera Turovsky says, “It’s a privilege to be part of opera’s grandeur. Opera is really an expression of all the arts together, but every opera is different and exciting in its own way.” When asked what operas have the most intriguing parts for the harp, Turovsky says, “Puccini’s harp parts are fantastic.” Dramatic operas, such as Lucia di Lammermoor or Billy Budd have infamous parts that “use the harp to illustrate a specific dramatic moment.” It’s in those moments that you can truly distinguish the harp’s powerful beauty and Turovsky’s masterful playing.LA Opera is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the greater good.