Claire Happel

Adjunct Instructor of Music



Claire Happel is a committed performer in music and movement with interests spanning from 18th-century works to pieces by emerging artists of today. As a harpist, she has performed with the St. Louis Symphony and Civic Orchestra of Chicago, among others, and has formed chamber projects with oboist Karisa Werdon, bassist Philip Alejo (River Town Duo), guitarist James Moore, and mandolin player Jeremy Harting (Noble Fowl Trio). Dedicated to performances of the standard repertoire as well as contemporary music, she has premiered works by Hannah Lash, Lainie Fefferman, Caroline Shaw, Douglas Fisk, Sarah Kirkland Snider, Missy Mazzoli, Jacob Cooper, and Nomi Epstein, among others. Her work with new music ensembles include performances with the Berg Orchestra, Ostravská Banda, the Chicago Composers Orchestra, the International Ensemble Modern Academy, and on the Pulitzer Series of St. Louis. She has performed at the American Harp Society Summer Institutes in Chicago, Tacoma, and Logan, Utah, and presented on the Alexander Technique at the World Harp Congress in Dublin. Any chance she can get to improvise, sing, or try something new is one she will happily take.

Equally interested in movement, Claire formed Yale Movement Improvisation and Composition while in graduate school and has performed in the dance works of Rebecca Nettl-Fiol, Luc Vanier, Sara Hook, Mary Barnett, David Parker, David Neumann, and Nicholas Leichter, among others. Her perspective on coordination is largely influenced by the Alexander Technique, specifically its relationship to developmental movement as investigated by Joan and Alex Murray, Rebecca Nettl-Fiol, and Luc Vanier. Most recently, she has performed in Baroque operas, finding the relationship between the spiraling arms of 18th-century dance and developmental patterns fascinating.

She has received two City of Chicago Cultural Affairs Grants, an Urbana Arts Grant, an Illinois Arts Council Professional Development Grant, and two American Harp Society Grants for commissions, performances, and recordings. Claire holds degrees from Yale and the University of Illinois in both music and dance, was a 2007–08 Fulbright Scholar in the Czech Repbulic under Jana Boušková, and is currently on the Alexander Technique Center Urbana training course. Her harp teachers include Sarah Bullen, June Han, Ann Yeung, and Sarama Schnack. She currently teaches harp at the University of Notre Dame, Valparaiso University, Olivet Nazarene University, St. Mary’s College, and Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. Outside of music and movement, Claire is a member of Soroptimists International of Chicago, an organization to improve the lives of women and girls, and has produced stories (click here!) for public radio as an Arts Desk intern at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C.

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