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Karen Smith, harpist (A Music Story):

Music has always been an integral part of Karen’s life.  She began to play piano at the age of 6, but did not discover the harp until age 12.  When Karen heard a Celtic harpist perform at Art Park in Lewiston, New York, she was both entranced and enthralled.  She began to save money from her paper route and was able to buy a troubadour harp two years later.  This marked the beginning of a new and wonderful musical journey.  

Karen has performed publicly on the harp for over 20 years both as a soloist and with ensemble.  She is an established freelance musician and has played at numerous concerts, weddings, church services, funerals, anniversary celebrations and corporate or nonprofit functions.  Karen has enjoyed performing with various ensembles, including her former Celtic group, Airfid.  Karen has released two CD’s,Simple Gifts, in August 2006 with her group Airfid, to benefit Habitat for Humanity Niagara and Unexpected Journey, a musical reflection, in 2011.

Karen has taught harp to students of all ages (from 7 to 70) and has given private piano lessons. She has been a harp instructor at the Niagara Symphony Music camp, has taught elementary school music to Grades 1-6, and has conducted a children’s choir.  Karen loves to pass on the joy of music and harp (and piano) playing at her home studio in the Niagara Region.

Karen studied performance music at Brock University. She has studied privately with Suzanne Thomas of the Buffalo Philharmonic, and the late Doris Sharing.  During her time at Brock University, Karen learned much about ensemble performance from Judith Kehler Siebert. 

Karen loves life, is always up for an adventure, and has multiple interests. She is a certified elementary teacher and has taught overseas in Kyrgyzstan and Egypt. In Kyrgyzstan, Karen was able to play a harp which had sat unused for twenty years in the basement of the Opera House.  In addition to holding a Masters of Education, Karen holds a Masters of Social Work in the area of Diversity and Social Justice from the University of Toronto. As a professional musician, teacher, and Registered Social Worker, she is passionate about the way music plays a holistic role in people’s lives.  In addition to performing and teaching harp, Karen currently works as a Learning Skills Instructor at Brock University.

Karen lives happily in a 100 year old farm house in the heart of the Niagara Region with her husband (and musical supporter) Ray Herrow and her step-daughter. She loves welcoming a new generation of harpists to create music in her century old studio.

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GAIL POULSEN - Violinist / Fiddler:

Gail Poulsen holds a BA, and received her ARCT in Violin Performance from The Royal Conservatory of Music, where she studied with Katharine Rapoport. Gail is a strings coach at Ridley College in St. Catharines, Ontario. Summer festivals gave her the opportunity to teach students of the Royal Conservatory of Music and the New England Conservatory.

Gail also has extensive performing experience. She has been a member of both the National Youth Orchestra of Canada and the Boris Brott Festival Orchestra. She also has a passion for chamber music, and has studied with two Banff International Quartet Competition winners: The St. Lawrence String Quartet and The Colorado Quartet.

Gail has played in the first violin section of The Niagara Symphony since 1995. She passes on her love of both classical and Celtic music to the next generation of musicians at her music studio in Virgil, Ontario.

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ANNE ADAMS - Irish Bodhran:

Anne has had a long and varied career as a singer, musician, actor and composer. She has toured with Nashville’s Ernest Tubb and appeared with Canada’s Walter Ostanek. Her favourite music is Celtic, but she has enjoyed working in rock, pop, and country, as well as Celtic bands. Anne has performed with the Celtic group Barley Brae.

Some of Anne’s favourite roles have been: Sister Hubert in “Nunsense” and Audrey in “As You Like It”. Her career has also included musical revues, television shows and radio commercials. She has written choral, pop and even electro-acoustic music.

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JENNIFER GRIFFITH - Soprano

A graduate of The Glenn Gould School of The Royal Conservatory of Music, Jennifer has performed the roles of Voluptua in Barab’s “Mushroom Pizza”, Geraldine in Barber’s “Hand of Bridge” and Lisa in Weisgall’s “The Stronger”, all under the direction of  Edward Franco. Jennifer has also performed the role of  Pamina in Mozart's “Die Zauberflöte”under the  direction of Jennifer Tarver. Other roles have included Second Woman in Purcell's “Dido and Aeneus”. Jennifer also had the opportunity to perform in the Barrie Colours of  Music Festival last fall. In addition to performing Jennifer teaches voice both independently and at the Academy of Music in Toronto.

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