Andrea Mumm, Principal Harp
Are you a native Charlottean?
Nope! Jersey girl through and through
What was your musical upbringing like?
Both my parents are professional musicians so I started music at an early age. I started with violin at age 3, piano at 5, viola at 9, and finally harp at age 11.
What drew you to your instrument?
It is so unique! My family are all string instruments and I desperately wanted to not have to worry about my bow hold like everyone else. And, of course, the sound is gorgeous. Even beginners sound great on the harp.
What are the challenges and opportunities unique to your instrument?
Tuning. So much tuning. On any given orchestra day I tune 6-10 times a day
which takes 5-10 minutes each time. The harp is also complex in the fact that I have to not only use both hands, but also both my feet while playing to operate 7 foot pedals. Even with all of the difficulties, the harp has so many great qualities. I love being a stand alone instrument that can accompany itself. I also love the smile on kids' faces when they see a harp for the first time.
Do you teach?
Yes! I teach at University of North Carolina - Greensboro (UNCG), University of North Carolina - Charlotte (UNCC), and Davidson College, in addition to a private studio in my home.
Do you perform outside of your work with the Charlotte Symphony? If so, with whom and where? How did you get involved, and what do you enjoy about these additional performance opportunities?
I am also the Principal Harpist for the Colorado Music Festival in Boulder, Colorado. The timing is perfect since the CMF season picks up right when the CSO summer season ends in early July. CMF gives me a chance to continue playing great music all year long and escape the Carolina summer heat and sweat.
Could you describe your job within the Symphony?
At first glance, it looks like my only job is showing up for rehearsals and concerts. In truth, so much of my work is behind the scenes. I regularly play with my trio at elementary and middle schools all around Charlotte as part of the CSO's educational team. These concerts introduce students to the harp (a rarity for public schools), as well as the woodwind and string families. I also am the harp coach for both the Charlotte Symphony youth orchestras and perform solo and chamber concerts frequently for donor and fundraising events. This is all in addition to my usual 3 hours a day of personal practice to keep my hands in shape to play for all of these events!
What’s the most memorable thing that’s happened on stage?
In a Pops show, a violinist had on a dress with a 20 foot train (no joke!). She slipped and fell while entering stage with her violin in hand. She then proceeded to get up and play the Tchaikovsky violin concerto flawlessly and exit stage again. I was flabbergasted at her professionalism and poise. I don't think I would have been as graceful!
What was been the highlight of your career with the Charlotte Symphony?
Soloing on the Debussy Danses with my Charlotte Symphony. Also, playing Ein Heldenleben because I can never get enough of that tone poem.
What are some of your non-musical interests, or passions?
I am an avid baker, as my colleagues will tell you. Baking is my way to de-stress. I'm also trying to learn how to sew with a sewing machine. Long term, I am in the process of writing a book for harpists about playing gigs in the 21st century and would love to take marketing classes.