Chelsea Carlson

Chelsea Carlson ’09 is not merely a musical genius on the harp – she also plays the organ exceptionally. Last Friday evening, Carlson gave a spectacular final performance for her senior recital that truly exemplified her successful music career at Andover. Sitting composedly at the organ, Carlson extended a warm invitation to her audience with the rich tune of Johann Pachelbel’s Toccata in C Major. The program Carlson performed consisted of eight challenging pieces. “I chose them based on personal preference, how ready they were for performance and the variety they would give to the program,” she said. The Toccata’s cheery, fast-paced melody caught the crowd’s attention at once. The Cochran Chapel’s atmosphere enhanced Carlson’s music by giving it a heavenly feel. After the Toccata, Carlson performed Johannes Brahms’s Schmukcke dich, o liebe seele, Op. 122, No. 5. The calm, soothing piece painted a scenic picture before the audience’s eyes with its graceful melody. Carlson was out of sight when playing the organ, and she expressed the challenge in playing such a complex instrument. “In addition to playing a keyboard with my hands, I have to simultaneously play another one with my feet,” she said humorously. After performing a final piece on the organ by Bach, Carlson turned her attention to the harp. The beautiful, velvety notes of the harp replaced the comparatively rigid sounds of the organ. A highlight in the harp portion of the program was “Whirlwind” from Five Preludes by Carlos Salzedo. The airy notes combined with the dramatic sections in the piece vividly portrayed the swirling wind. “My favorite piece in Chelsea’s program was Whirlwind,” said Christian Anderson ’09. I thought she really represented the essence of the piece through the way she was playing the instrument, the way she moved her hand in a circular [motion] on the harp.” “Quarks” from 15 Pieces for the Harp by John Weinzweig also captivated the audience. Aspiring harpist Rona Choo ’11 said, “Some of the dramatic parts in Quarks actually made me jump! [Carlson’s] harp playing is so amazing because she can incite different feelings from her audience depending on what and how she plays. She was a great inspiration for me.” Givens Parr ’11 shared similar thoughts. “I was wowed by [Carlson’s] performance on Friday. I do not know many people who play either the organ or the harp, let alone both. Chelsea displayed a lot of artistry when she played. It seemed like she was really feeling the music. She really had a passion for the sound.” Carlson concluded her senior recital with “Feerie, Prelude et Danse” by Marcel Tournier. “I came in playing this song as a freshman. It gave some closure to my Andover career,” she said. At the end of the recital, Carlson was congratulated with a well-deserved standing ovation and bouquets of flowers from family and friends. “I thought the entire event went very well,” said Carlson. “For the past month, I’ve been spending four hours a day practicing in the Chapel, so I’m glad it paid off.”