Elizabeth Volpé Bligh became the Vancouver Symphony's Principal Harpist in 1982, after six seasons as the Principal Harpist of the National Ballet of Canada Orchestra. A graduate of University of Toronto's Bachelor of Music program in 1975, she studied with Judy Loman (Toronto Symphony), Alice Chalifoux (Cleveland Orchestra) and Edna Phillips (Philadelphia Orchestra). She organized and attended many master classes at UBC with luminaries such as Judy Loman, Nancy Allen, Heidi Lehwalder, Natalia Shameyeva, Erica Goodman, Willy Postma and Ann Yeung. Ms. Volpé's career includes concerto performances with the VSO and other orchestras, chamber music concerts, movie soundtracks and recordings. She is featured in The Greater Vancouver Album, a collection of works by Michael Conway Baker, and performed his Harp Concerto with the VSO. She can also be heard on the VSO's Grammy- and Juno-award-winning recording of the Korngold and Walton Violin Concertos with James Ehnes.
Through the years, some comments from reviews include: "one of the best harpists in the world" (Nigel Barbour), "a harpist of great skill" (Ray Chatelin), "achingly lovely playing" (Michael Scott), “ very fine playing” (Sebastien Lipman, former harpist of Berlin Philharmonic).
Elizabeth's students have won awards such as the Vancouver Youth Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition, Edith Lando Scholarship and RCM Silver Medal, and have been members of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, Aspen Music Festival and other summer music programs. Many have gone on to successful professional careers in the harp. She has taught privately and at institutions such as the Vancouver Academy of Music, UBC, Trinity Western University, Vancouver Community College, Douglas College, Pacific Harp Institute, VSO School of Music, CISHI and the Island Mountain Arts Festival. Students have come from all over the world, such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Ireland and France. Ms. Volpé Bligh has had articles published in such journals as the Teachers’ Forum of the American Harp Journal, New Zealand Harp Association newsletter and the Dutch National Harp Journal, and she has published many articles on her web site for downloading. She has given many workshops and master classes in North America, New Zealand and China. She was a panelist at the American Harp Society Conference in Dearborn, MI, June 2008, performed in the American Harp Society Conference in Tacoma, WA, and The Festival of the Sound in Parry Sound, Ontario in 2010, and was a panellist at the World Harp Congress in Vancouver 2011. She has adjudicated at festivals around Canada, including the OSM Standard Life Competition in 2010 along with Elisabeth Fontan-Binoche. She taught and performed at the International Harp Workshop in Italy in 2012, and opened Canadian International Summer Harp Institute in 2012 with colleague Gianetta Baril and guest teachers Judy Loman and Cristina Braga. She was the chair of the host committee for the World Harp Congress in Vancouver in 2011.
Her book of pieces Solos for Lever or Pedal Harp is published by www.theavondalepress.com and is in the Lyon Healy catalogue. Six of the pieces are in the Royal Conservatory of Music Syllabus, and are being performed all over the world. Winter in Vancouver was premiered at the 11th World Harp Congress in 2011, and the suite Seasons in Vancouver was published in 2012. Elizabeth is currently President of the BC Chapter of the American Harp Society and West Coast Harp Society.
Research & Scholarship
- BMus in Performance (University of Toronto), 1975
- Harp teachers have included Judy Loman (Toronto Symphony), Alice Chalifoux (Cleveland Orchestra), and Edna Phillips (Philadelphia Orchestra)
- Master classes with Ossian Ellis (London Symphony) , Nancy Allen, Heidi Lehwalder, Cheryl Ann Fulton (early music)
- National Youth Orchestra of Canada 1973 and 1975
- Applied Music Lessons - Harp