New Classical Tracks®

Harpist Yolanda Kondonassis celebrates Earth

Yolanda Kondonassis is using music to support Earth preservation efforts. Laura Watilo Blake

New Classical Tracks - Yolanda Kondonassis (Extended)


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April 20, 2022

Yolanda Kondonassis — Five Minutes for Earth (Azica Records)

New Classical Tracks - Yolanda Kondonassis

“I had such a great time practicing new stuff,” harpist Yolanda Kondonassis said. “It rewires your neurons when you're sitting there for hours absorbing new music, new material, new techniques and new everything.”
During the pandemic Kondonassis had time and space to learn 15 new solo pieces for harp inspired by Earth for her latest album, Five Minutes for Earth.

How does this album fit into the mission of your nonprofit?

“My foundation, Earth at Heart, will sponsor and finance all ongoing performances of these five-minute pieces that are on the album every time they're performed. Any harpist anywhere in the world, if they can upload their performance and info to the Earth at Heart website, a contribution will be made to an Earth conservation organization.

“The idea was not only to inspire through the arts, but in the case of Five Minutes for Earth, it gives artists a way to contribute through their performances.”

Why is five minutes the magic number?

“Five minutes started as a construct. I asked myself, ‘What can I realistically ask composers to do or donate?’ I thought five minutes was a great metaphor for the time we have as a global community to get our act together.”

How would you describe Maximo Diego Pujol’s piece, Milonga Para Mi Tierra?

“Diego says it's a love song for my Earth, and I love that ownership. It's not just the Earth. It's my Earth. That's an important part of the title and subliminally threaded throughout. It's nostalgic and melancholy while remaining hopeful. It's awe inspiring to watch that work in progress.”

Can you talk about the composer and piece that opens the album?

“Takuma Itoh, who is based in Honolulu, Hawaii, composed Kohola Sings. He wrote this piece using the stunning effect. It's a string-bending maneuver that can imitate the songs of whales.”

Can you talk about Michael Daugherty’s Hear the Dust Blow?

“The initial idea came from the Dust Bowl period. The Grapes of Wrath and all that came from a convergence of elements. It was a combination of weather patterns and an abuse of the land. We learned something back then in the 1930s, but we need to learn it again.

“There are gorgeous, aching moments in this piece. The idea of wishing, hoping and dreaming of a new day and a better life are woven through his piece. It is the glue.

“Each piece has a small element of both looking back and forward. They are all so different from one another. But, if I were to try and narrow down a common thread with each work, it is that they all have a touch of melancholy combined with lots of hope.”

To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.


Yolanda Kondonassis — Five Minutes for Earth (Amazon)

Yolanda Kondonassis (official site)