Prolific as he was, Mozart only wrote one composition for the harp — the Concerto for Flute & Harp in C major. This gorgeous (and romantic!) masterpiece promises to set Welte Hall ablaze on Friday Feb. 10 when esteemed harpist Megan Sesma joins renowned flutist Jill Maurer Davis of the Conn. Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra for a special Valentine’s Day concert at 8PM on the CCSU campus in New Britain. Anticipations for this gala event are running high — both of these lovely ladies haven’t appeared together in a couple of years, and this will be the first time they have performed this piece together (though Sesma has done it elsewhere), making this evening somewhat of a milestone occasion in their busy careers.
Like Ms. Davis (previously interviewed here), Sesma has also toured the globe as a member of the United States Coast Guard Band. In 2003, she became their first enlisted principal harpist — a position added 87 years after the band’s creation. Also like her dear friend and colleague, Ms. Sesma is also an adjunct professor in several universities in the area, resides on the shoreline with her family, and was eager to share some of her vast experiences with local music critic and reporter Larry Kellum. On January 5, via skype technology, she spent a casual and informative hour with Mr. Kellum. Here are some highlights of that pleasant interview……………….
LK — You have such an exotic look. What nationality are you?
MS— Part Mexican and part German-Irish
LK — How did it all begin for you?
MS — I was born in Iowa and moved to Las Vegas in high school. I started with the piano at age five and started on the harp at age 10. I enjoy singing, too, and I fell in love with the harp because, for me, its almost like a combination of piano and singing.
LK — Is there any one teacher that stands out the most in your formative years?
MS — Kathleen Bride, who was my professor at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester where I received my Bachelors of Music and my past teacher in Las Vegas, Kim Delibero.
LK — How did the Coast Guard come about?
MS — During my first semester at Univ. of Southern California, while I was working on my Master’s degree, I auditioned for the Coast Guard Band and moved to Connecticut following the audition process. The audition process consists of a screened round, final round and interview
LK — Any special military memories you’d like to share?
MS — Yes, many, but the tour of Taiwan last July stands out, and then there was my performing for the Chiefs of Staff during Obama’s inauguration — so many! Of course, with an instrument of this size, I can not partake in parades where marching is involved.
LK — Everyone knows my passion is opera. Have you performed in many opera productions?
MS — Yes, Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” has a harp solo, and there was Strauss’ ” Ariadne auf Naxos”. I absolutely love Strauss! Occasionally, I perform with soprano Patricia Schuman (who sang Mozart roles briefly at the Met) — we call ourselves the Aralia Duo.
LK — What are the logistical difficulties with transporting such a large instrument from venue to venue?
MS — Well, you need a vehicle large enough to fit the instrument, along with a dolly and an all-weather cover to protect the harp. Handicap accessibility is also required!
MS — The harp itself consists of the neck, column, sound board, base and body. There are 47 strings on the concert grand harp. The top strings are nylon, the middle animal gut, and the bottom are wound wire. There are also seven pedals. We remember the order from left to right with the mnemonic device D id C olombus B ring E nough F ood G oing to A merica!
LK — I understand you are an adjunct professor in a few area colleges. Which ones?
MS — I have students at UCONN, Wesleyan and Connecticut College. Beyond that, I have instructed private students ranging from age 8 to 60!
LK — To my ears, the harp has such a peaceful and pastoral sound to it — very relaxing. We are all looking forward to your bravura performance at CCSU’s Welte Hall on Feb. 10th! Are you going to wear red?
MS — I read somewhere that red was Mozart’s favorite color and it is Valentine’s Day so I will probably wear a red dress.
For more information on this concert and the remaining operas and concerts scheduled for this blockbuster season, please visit the Conn. Virtuosi at www.thevirtuosi.org
~ by Larry Kellum ~ 2012