Marguerite Lynn Williams, harp 

June 2, 2021

Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts

David Schwan, host


Giovanni Battista Pescetti; trans. M.L. Williams – Sonata VI in C minor (11′)

I. Allegro vigoroso

II. Andantino espressivo

III. Presto

Antonín Dvořák; arr. M.L. Williams – Song to the Moon from Rusalka (6′)

Lynne Wainwright Palmer – Classical Suite for Harp Alone (10′)

I. Prelude

II. Courante

III. Sarabande

VI. Gigue

Sydney Guillaume Angoisse (6′) *world premiere of harp transcription

William Grant Still; trans. M. Portanova – Brown Girl from From the Black Belt (3′)

Marguerite Lynn Williams joined the Minnesota Orchestra as Principal Harp in September 2020, after serving as Principal Harpist of the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She is also a founding member of the Chicago Harp Quartet, International Chamber Artists and La Folia (harp and flute duo), and often collaborates with musicians from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Lyric Opera of Chicago. In addition to being a member of the faculty at the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University and the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, she is the founder of the Chicago Harp Ensemble and has been the Director of this student ensemble since 2010. 

Williams has performed in a range of distinguished venues such as the Berliner Philharmonie, Carnegie Hall, National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing, Philharmonie de Paris, Royal Albert Hall, Chicago’s Symphony Center, Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in Moscow and Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall. She has appeared with North American orchestras including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and Toronto Symphony.

She was a prizewinner at the American Harp Society, American Opera Society, Anne Adams Award, National Federation of Music Clubs, Sigma Alpha Iota and Young Arts competitions. She has appeared as a featured performer and lecturer at American Harp Society conventions and the World Harp Congress in Vancouver as well as served as judge for both the American Harp Society and Young Artist’s Harp Competitions.

Born in Dayton, Ohio, Williams began her music studies at age five on the piano and at fourteen on the harp. A student of Kathleen Bride, she received her bachelor’s degree and performer’s certificate from the Eastman School of Music. She continued her graduate studies at the Chicago College of Performing Arts, where she received her master’s degree studying with Sarah Bullen. Following her studies, she served as Principal Harpist of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and the New World Symphony in Miami, Florida.

Giovanni Battista Pescetti (1704-1766); trans. M.L. Williams

Sonata VI in C minor (1739) 

Giovanni Batista Pescetti was a Venetian but spent most of his career in London where he was director of Covent Garden and the King’s Theatre.  Before his death, he moved back to Venice and held the position of organist at St. Mark’s for four years. Sonata VI in C minor was written in 1739 and is considered in transitional style between Baroque and Classical.  Originally transcribed by the famous French harpist Carlos Salzedo, it became popular as a competition piece. Ms. Williams derived her own transcription based on the original manuscript, restoring the original ornamentation and performance style.



Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904); arr. M.L. Williams

Song to the Moon from Rusalka (1900) 

Rusalka (a mermaid) is singing to the Moon, asking it to stand still, to embrace her Love (the Prince), hoping that he is dreaming of her, and begging it not to disappear. This aria is undeniably passionate with or without words due to the powerful emotion in Dvořák’s harmonies. This transcription was inspired by the 2020 Global pandemic when all performance venues around the World were closed.  All humans can genuinely relate to Rusalka’s basic human desires of curiosity, romance and social contact.


Lynne Wainwright Palmer (1918-2010)

Classical Suite for Harp Alone (1972) 

A legendary teacher, performer, composer and arranger for the harp, Lynne Wainwright Palmer made a lasting impact on the harp community worldwide. Dedicated to expanding the limited repertoire for the harp, she composed works for solo harp and ensembles in classical, jazz and pop styles. The Classical Suite for Harp Alone comprises seven movements, based on the traditional Baroque dance suite. Ms. Palmer demonstrates her creative compositional techniques through unexpected harmonic twists, playful intertwining melodic figures and a modern reimagining of Baroque style.



Sydney Guillaume (b. 1982)

Angoisse (1998)*world premiere of harp transcription 

Sydney Guillaume is a Haitian-American composer living and working in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. His successful career has included composing film scores, instrumental music and choral music to great accolades. In his own words, “[Angoisse] was the first piano solo that I fully completed and it was written at a time when I was finding myself…I struggled a lot with trying to fit in with the American culture at school and returning home every day to a traditional Haitian household.” 


William Grant Still (1895-1978);

trans. M. Portanova

Brown Girl from From the Black Belt (1914) 

Brown Girl was written in 1926 when William Grant Still began to base his compositions on different harmonic schemes to express moods or stories. William Grant Still earned his title of “Dean of African-American Classical Composers” as a composer of the Harlem Renaissance with nearly 200 works, including five symphonies, four ballets, eight operas, over thirty choral works, plus art songs, chamber music and solo instrumental repertoire.  He was the first American to have a symphony performed by a leading orchestra (1931-Rochester Philharmonic, Howard Hanson, conductor, Symphony No. 1 “Afro-American”), to have an opera produced by a major opera company (1949-Troubled Island, New York City Opera), to have an opera performed on national television (1981-A Bayou Legend), the first African-American person to conduct a major Symphony Orchestra (1936-Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Hollywood Bowl, concert of his own works) and first African-American to conduct a major orchestra in the Deep South (1955-New Orleans Philharmonic Orchestra).



Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts are made possible through the generosity of the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council and the Union League Club of Chicago.
Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts are presented in partnership with the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and 98.7 WFMT

Don’t miss Henry Griffin and Tian Qin

next week on the

Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts!

Wednesday June 9, 12:15pm

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