Elizabeth Volpé Bligh, harp

Elizabeth Volpé Bligh became the Vancouver Symphony's Principal Harpist in 1982, after six seasons as the Principal Harpist of the National Ballet of Canada Orchestra. A graduate of University of Toronto's Bachelor of Music program in 1975, she studied with Judy Loman (Toronto Symphony), Alice Chalifoux (Cleveland Orchestra) and Edna Phillips (Philadelphia Orchestra). 

Ms. Volpé Bligh's career includes concerto performances with the Grammy-winning VSO and other orchestras, chamber music concerts, movie soundtracks and recordings. She is featured in The Greater Vancouver Album, a collection of works by Michael Conway Baker, and performed his Harp Concerto, written for her and performed with the VSO. Through the years, some comments from reviews include: "one of the best harpists in the world" (Nigel Barbour), "a harpist of great skill" (Ray Chatelin), "achingly lovely playing" (Michael Scott), "ensemble and musicianship was spectacular" (Howard Jang), "very fine playing" (Sebastien Lipman, former harpist of Berlin Phiiharmonic), "beautiful playing" (Judy Loman), "unparalleled purity and subtlety" - David Gordon Duke, Vancouver Sun, Oct. 29, 2012, "scintillating" - Alexander Varty, Georgia Straight, Oct. 1, 2014.

Many of Elizabeth's students have won awards such as the Vancouver Youth Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition, Edith Lando Gifted Youth Scholarship, RCM Medals, and/or have been accepted into the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, Aspen Music Festival or other top-level music programmes. Many are successful professional harpists. She has taught privately and at institutions such as the Vancouver Academy of Music, UBC, VSO School of Music, PRISMA, VSOIW, and Island Mountain Arts Festival. Students have come from all over the world, such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Ireland, Australia and France. She taught and performed at the International Harp Workshop in Crea, Italy in 2012. She and Gianetta Baril opened a summer program called Canadian International Summer Harp Institute, July 29-August 11, 2012 at the VSO School of Music, with guest teachers Judy Loman and Cristina Braga. Elizabeth coached and performed at Pacific Rim International Summer Academy (PRISMA) in June, 2014. Elizabeth coached harp and performed at the VSO Institute at Whistler, BC, from June 28 to July 5, 2015.

Ms. Volpé Bligh has had articles published in the Teachers' Forum of the American Harp Journal, the New Zealand Harp Association newsletter, the Dutch Harp Bulletin, Harp Spectrum and Harp Column and has given classes by Skype to students at McGill University and Calgary's Mount Royal College Conservatory. She has travelled to give workshops, lessons and master classes in Canada, Italy, the USA, New Zealand and China. Her compositions for solo harp, in the Royal Conservatory of Music and Trinity College London Syllabi, are being taught and performed all over the world. She is currently President of the BC Chapter of the American Harp Society and the West Coast Harp Society and was the Chair of the World Harp Congress Host Committee in Vancouver in 2011. She was a panellist on Orchestra Auditions and on Preventing Injuries at American Harp Society Conferences and on Editing Orchestra Parts at the World Harp Congress in 2011. In July, 2014, at the 12th World Harp Congress in Sydney, Australia, she premiered a piece by Scott Good which she commissioned with the generous help of the American Harp Society and the West Coast Harp Society, and was a panellist on orchestra playing. She performed Scott Good's piece again with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in April, 2015. She appears regularly on the roster of the VSO Chamber Players' concerts. In July, 2017, she played in the opening gala and presented a workshop on editing orchestra parts at the 13th World Harp Congress in Hong Kong.

She has been a judge at various harp competitions from Kiwanis Festivals to the OSM Standard Life Competition in Montreal.

Outside of music, she is married to Ross Bligh and is the mother of twins, James and Katrina. Past and present hobbies include skiing, sailing, flamenco dancing, and cooking.

Elizabeth's performances in Michael Conway Baker's Harp Concerto and Frederick Schipizky's Oboe Quintet can be heard on audio stream at the Canadian Music Centre's web site. Her performances with the Lyric Brass Quintet at the American Harp Society Conference in Tacoma, 2010, and her recital at the Sydney World Harp Congress were recorded for the Harp Archives at Brigham Young University.

Position: Adjudicator
Festival: Solo/Small Ensemble (Main)