Classically-trained pedal harpist; Celtic-loving lever harpist; Sinatra-playing pop artist.
2018 US National Scottish Harp Champion
On September 8th, Stephanie Claussen competed at the Edinboro Scottish Harp Competition and won the title 2018 US National Scottish Harp Champion. She played a program of her own arrangements, starting with a March/Strathspey/Reel set (“The Duke of Fife’s Welcome to Deeside,” “The Bonfire,” and “The Dogs”) and concluding with a set of traditional tunes that each boast lyrics by Robert Burns: “Ca’ the Yowes to the Knowes,” “Jacky Tar,” and “Brose and Butter.”
Minnesota-based harpist Stephanie Claussen is a performer, teacher and arranger. With interests that span the Celtic and classical worlds, she performs her own mixture of Scottish tunes, J.S. Bach, Debussy, and anything that sounds medieval or French. At the age of twelve she won first place in the Macalester Scottish Country Harp Competition in St. Paul and was named “Most Promising Harpist.” After studying for eleven years with Twin Cities harpist Catherine Victorsen, Claussen obtained her B.M. in harp performance from the University of Minnesota under the instruction of Kathy Kienzle, principal harpist of the Minnesota Orchestra.
As a 2014 recipient of the Arts Tour grant, Claussen performed a program entitled “Eclectic Harp” throughout greater Minnesota, featuring jazz, shape-note, Classical and medieval music. Claussen visited Scotland for the first time in 2018 to attend the Edinburgh International Harp Festival and later competed for, and won, the title of 2018 US National Scottish Harp Champion.
Claussen has released four solo albums and a book of arrangements entitled Light so Brilliant: Christmas Carols and Tunes for Solo Harp, published by Mel Bay. She runs a harp studio in St. Paul and performs throughout the Upper Midwest. When not making music, she enjoys repainting her walls and drinking English Breakfast tea out of a real teacup.
“With the brick wall of the coffee shop providing a backdrop, it was easy to forget you were sitting in a store on Johnson Street and imagine yourself listening to a bard in an old Scottish castle (without the cold, drafty air). Many audience members in the packed room listened with their eyes closed.” –Northeaster, 2018
Stephanie Claussen is a current member of the Ravenscroft Musicke Guild, a performing ensemble dedicated to entertaining people through a combined vocal and instrumental approach to Renaissance music. She is a past member of the University of Minnesota Symphony Orchestra, indie band “Acoustic Nerve,” and the University of Minnesota Early Music Ensemble. She has worked with the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, the Dakota Valley Symphony, the Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra, the Paris Conservatory’s Saxophone Ensemble, the Duluth Symphony Orchestra, and the Northern Lights International Music Festival. She performed as a wandering minstrel at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival for over fifteen years.
- 2018 US National Scottish Harp Champion, Edinboro Scottish Harp Competition and US National Championship
- MnSpin Artist, Hennepin County, 2017 Collection
- Next Step Grant, Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, 2017
- 1st place, Master, MN Scottish Harp Competition, 2016 and 2017
- MN Chapter of the American Harp Society’s ARCH award, Professional, 2016
- 1st place, Harp in Ensemble, MN Scottish Harp Competition, 2015 and 2016
- Arts Tour grant, MN State Arts Board, 2014
- 1st place, Novice, MN Scottish Harp Competition, 1998
- Most Promising Harpist, MN Scottish Harp Competition, 1998
- Best New Act, MN Renaissance Festival, 1998
- Treasurer, MN Chapter of the American Harp Society, 2018-present
- President, MN Chapter of the American Harp Society, 2016-2018
- Secretary, MN Chapter of the American Harp Society, 2014-2016
- Organizer, MN Scottish Harp Weekend, 2014, 2015, 2016
- MN Music Coalition
- American Harp Society
- Scottish Harp Society of America
- International Society of Folk Harpers and Craftsmen
- Twin Cities Musicians Union – Local 30-73 AFM
Influences and Inspirations
J.R.R.Tolkien, Frank Sinatra, Hildegard von Bingen, Turlough O’Carolan, J.S. Bach