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Laura Zaerr is an adjunct instructor of harp at the University of Oregon. She joined the UO faculty in 2001, replacing Sally Maxwell, with whom she studied at Oregon, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in music performance and composition. Zaerr was a three-time recipient of the Ruth Lorraine Close Award for musical studies. In 1981-82 she studied harp in Paris with Bertille Fournier. She has a master's degree in harp performance from the Eastman School of Music, where she studied with Eileen Malone. While at Eastman, she recorded with Wynton Marsalis, Benita Valente, and James Galway.
Zaerr's artistry as a soloist earned her the honor of being included on the American Harp Society Concert Artist Program. In this capacity she performed solo recitals throughout the United States. In Oregon she has appeared as guest artist with several orchestras throughout Oregon and California, including the Oregon Mozart Players, the Chintimini Music Festival, the Rogue Valley Symphony, the Willamette Chamber Orchestra, he Linfield Chamber Orchestra, and the Diablo Symphony in Walnut Creek.
Aside from her solo work, Laura is a member of the Portland-based Oregon Renaissance Band, the Celtic band Trilogy, and The Eight street Jazz Band in Corvallis. She has served as harpist for the Alaskan Cruise ship S.S. Universe Explorer.
In addition to harp performance, Laura studied composition at the University of Oregon with Derek Healey. Her compositions include works for string quartet, woodwind quintet, choir, harp ensemble, and most notably a pair of concertos for Celtic harp and orchestra. Zaerr blends a strong classical background with her love of Celtic music to achieve a dazzling showcase for the popular Celtic harp.
Zaerr's artistic interests extend beyond classical music. She has collaborated in storytelling with her sister Linda Marie, who is a medievalist. Their consort Psalite presents a collage of poetry, drama, and music from the Middle Ages. Their work can be seen and heard on a video of The Weddyng of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnel, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.
With the help of her father, Zaerr renovated a single-action pedal harp built in Paris in the1820s. Her exquisite performances of little-known classical harp works on this unique and beautiful instrument have gained national attention. The music of this instrument can be heard on two compact discs on the Pandourion label, L'autre jour... and One Horse Open Sleigh.
Zaerr has been a guest teacher and performer for harp festivals and workshops throughout the Northwest and Canada, including Big Sky, Somerset Harp Festivals, Harp Con, and National American Harp Society conferences. She also organizes the annual High Cascade Harp Retreat, as well as local concerts and workshops. She maintains a lively private studio, and relaxes with white-water kayaking in her off-duty time.