The Spartan Speaks

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Driskill boasts award-winning harp talent

Sonia+%22Jazz%22+Driskill%2C+after+performing+Handel%27s+concerto
Sonia

Sonia "Jazz" Driskill, after performing Handel's concerto

Karen Haigh

Karen Haigh

Sonia "Jazz" Driskill, after performing Handel's concerto

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In 2005, a four year old Sonia Driskill sat still, spellbound by her introduction to the harp. Fast forward 13 years, through lessons and falling in love with music, and senior Driskill, now 17 years old, has not only started a harp-playing business called SJHDHarp, but has also won the Margaret Ankeny Award–among many other accomplishments.

At a MacPhail early childhood class, Driskill discovered her distinctive instrument. “They brought in a harp one day, and my mom’s comment is that she’s never seen a four year old sit so still for an hour,” Driskill said, “It’s been a steady in my life for my entire living memory. I don’t remember a time I wasn’t playing harp.”

Music is so important to the world and so important for sharing messages–it’s the universal language. Harp is also a lot of fun since it’s such a rare instrument”

— Sonia Driskill

Driskill has been competing in harp competitions since 2009, when she won the junior level competition at the Minnesota Harp Society; her most recent accomplishment was finaling at the Young People’s Symphony Concert Association’s annual School Music Auditions. As a finalist, she was able to perform Handel’s Concerto in B-flat major at Orchestra Hall for a panel of professional musicians including the associate director for the Minnesota Orchestra; her performance earned her the Margaret Ankeny Award, including a $500 grant.

“I was definitely the weirdest instrument there,” Driskill said. She added that of the eight finalists she was the only harpist and musician who performed in a major key, as well as the only student from a public school.

On Jan. 27, Driskill also performed Handel’s Concerto in B-flat major for the MacPhail Suzuki Concerto competition; she was one of four finalists who performed with the the MacPhail faculty orchestra. She said that Handel’s Concerto in B-flat major is her favorite piece to play and belongs to her favorite type of music to play–compositions from the Baroque period, an era from 1600-1750 that includes other composers like Bach and Vivaldi.

As for her business, SJHDHarp, Driskill says that she performs for retirement homes, dinner parties, weddings, religious services or any occassion that may call for a harp. She has had the business since she was in sixth grade.

“Music is so important to the world and so important for sharing messages–it’s the universal language. Harp is also a lot of fun since it’s such a rare instrument,” Driskill said.

Next year, Driskill will attend the University of Wisconsin Madison; she plans to double major in harp and chemistry, although she is still unsure if she wants to professionally pursue harp.

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Driskill boasts award-winning harp talent