Richmond harp ensemble makes sweet music all over the world

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - There is nothing but sweet music coming from the music suite of Grace Baptist Church in Richmond - especially when the American Youth Harp Ensemble is practicing there.

"Usually when people come to one of our concerts, they come again and again," said American Youth Harp Ensemble director Lynnelle Ediger.

The ensemble is a group made up of students ranging from ages 5 to 18. Together, they create an orchestra of harps that produces unforgettable music. They are invited to perform in unforgettable places, like London, Paris, and Italy.

"We've played in venues like Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center," said harpist Meghan Ellwood.

Ellwood has played the harp for almost 10 years now, and enjoys the traveling opportunities the group provides.

Lauren Bennett enjoys the same, as well as the life lessons that come along with being an ensemble member.

"It instills discipline. We all have to work together, and we all get to the performances together and do great as a team," said Bennett.

This is exactly what director Lynnelle Ediger envisioned when she started the group back in 1999. She wanted to introduce the harp to children of all backgrounds.

"If you reach a student and put an instrument in their hands, multi days a week, regardless of their financial means, they will achieve great things if they have excellent instruction and access to the instrument," said Ediger.

Ediger trains over 300 students every year.

This is a unique program because it offers five levels of performance ensembles. The students record music, have two television programs, and even volunteer at area hospitals - providing what's called "harp therapy".

They have received national and international recognition, and soon, they will add something else to their resume.

"We are performing for our very first time at Lincoln Center in Alice Tully Hall which is part of Julliard," said Ediger.

They will perform at the Lincoln Center in New York in April.

"We were invited to perform there after we sold out Carnegie Hall for the third time," said Ediger.

The group will have several free preview shows in Richmond before its debut in the Lincoln Center.

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