Taylor Ann Fleshman

Harp

Hometown: Kernersville, NC

Alma maters: Indiana University, M.M., 2018–20; University of Cincinnati, B.M., 2014–18

Instagram: @harps_n_things

Photos by Matt Dine

Profile

Awards/competitions: First prize, 2018 PRISMA Concerto Competition; First prize and the Nippert Award, 2017 and 2018 3 Arts Scholarship Competition; First prize, 2015 CCM Undergraduate Instrumental Competition; Second Prize, 2020 Ceren Necipoglu International Competition, chamber division; Second Prize, 2020 National Society of Arts and Letters; 2018–20 Barbara and David Jacobs Fellowship; 2014–18 CCM Honors Scholarship

Appearances: Moscow Symphony Orchestra, Russia, 2019; Jakarta Simfonia Orchestra, Indonesia, 2018–19; Civic Orchestra of Chicago, 2018–19; Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, 2018–19; Richmond Symphony Orchestra, Indiana, 2017–18; Pacific Region International Summer Music Academy, Canada, 2018–19; Bowdoin International Music Festival, 2017; Aspen Music Festival and School, 2016; National Orchestral Institute, 2015 

When did you realize you wanted to pursue music as a career? I’ve been playing music since I was 5 but it wasn’t until I was 15 that I decided to try and pursue a career with the harp. From there, I transferred over to UNCSA, an arts high school.

What is your favorite piece of music, and why do you love it? Tristan und Isolde. It never ceases to amaze me how these four hours can keep me completely immersed between the harmonies and the drama. I also love seeing how directors approach staging this work.

What has been your favorite experience as a musician? It’s hard to pinpoint. My favorite moments have been when I played in hospitals or retirement communities. I found that music really lifted the spirits of those who were in difficult times. Life can be hard so I was glad to use my gift to help in some regard.

Do you have any embarrassing performance stories? All this took place in my first rehearsal at the PRISMA festival in Canada for Berlioz’s Harold en Italie. The soloist who was the principal violist with the Berlin Philharmonic at the time, Máté Szücs, had just walked on stage as the orchestra was finishing up tuning. Well, I went to sit down on my adjustable bench, which was not locked in the slots all the way, and the chair collapsed and I went down with it. This caused a super loud crash in the hall, which made everyone look over at me while I was laying on the floor, and Máté came over to my corner to ask if I was alright.

Favorite non-classical musician or band: My Chemical Romance. I’ll even listen to them to pump myself up before a recital or a concerto performance.

If you could play another instrument, what would it be? Piccolo, because it’s a lot easier to pack up and transport.

If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing? Radiologist

What is your favorite place you’ve traveled to and why? Indonesia. I find the culture to be very vibrant and fascinating. Their food is an added bonus.

Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to have dinner with and why? Leonard Bernstein—I’d love to watch and listen to him talk about music; Henriette Renié—I’d want her input on her outstanding harp repertoire and talk about her spirituality; My grandfather—I’d like to get to know him and meet him since I was too young to remember him.

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us: I performed and recorded the world premiere of the Mosolov Harp Concerto with the Moscow Symphony Orchestra in Russia back in 2019. Naxos will be releasing the CD in December 2020. 

Piece of advice for a young classical musician: Your path will not look the same as others. Don’t compare yourself to what others in your field are doing and accomplishing. You have to do what’s best for you and focus on your direction.