Applauded by the National Post as “a rare charisma”, Canadian harpist Andrew Chan has performed across Canada, USA, and in Asia as a solo, concerto, orchestral and chamber musician. For nine seasons, he performed successfully as Principal Harp under the baton of the late Kerry Stratton, who repeatedly featured him as a soloist performing concertos by Debussy (2014, 2018), Handel (2013, 2018), Mozart (2017 tour) and Ravel (2014).
Chan performs also as Principal Harp with the Brantford Symphony Orchestra since 2008. The highlights of his solo appearances with them include the Harp Concerto by Vancouver’s Juno-Award winning composer Michael Conway Baker in 2018. Chan was selected by the composer to present the same work in Vancouver as part of the celebration concert for his 86th Birthday in 2022, where he additionally introduced a new work: Three Meditations for solo harp and orchestra, written for Chan by Constantine Caravassilis.
Enthusiastic to expand the harp’s repertoire, Chan works with composers closely, premiering and advocating new Canadian works. He was invited to present Canadian music in front of an international audience in Hong Kong, premiering “Three Dances for Ocyrrhoe” in 2017 by Constantine Caravassilis. Also written for Chan, Caravassilis’ Illuminatum for Two Harps and Men’s Chorus was premiered at the Harps on the Hill Festival. Caravassilis’ latest project, Hiraeth — a magnificent four-movement Concerto for Harp and Orchestra, has recently been completed.
Chan founded Harps on the Hill, a specialized harp school in Markham Ontario that advocates the appreciation of the harp both in its performance and teaching. A school of an international population of harp students, it has hosted masterclasses by faculty members of world-renowned music institutions including Juilliard, Eastman, Yale, Peabody, and others. Visiting students have come from around Canada, Australia, China, England, France, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Spain and USA.
Since 2000, countless of Chan’s students have been winners of various awards, scholarships and auditions. Many have been inspired to pursue the harp professionally. Acceptances with extensive scholarship packages have been offered to his students by prestigious university programs, they include the Cleveland Institute of Music, Colburn School, Eastman School of Music, Indiana University, Juilliard School, McGill, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Peabody Institute of Music, Temple University, University of British Columbia and others. Other offers to his students have come from the National Youth Orchestra of Canada (through national audition), Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Orchestral Institute (through international audition) and the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra (through provincial audition).
Triptych, a collection of Chan’s original compositions, has been published and sold worldwide by Lyon & Healy Publications (Chicago). His “The Orchestral Harpist Volume 1 & 2” offer practical solutions to a wide selection of orchestral excerpts. His “Bach Revisited” features his modified versions of 12 classic Bach transcriptions for better play-ability. Chan’s other publications include “Mendelssohn on Harp” featuring his transcriptions, and “Technique Builders for Harp” that offers insight to develop solid harp-playing technique.
Inspired by the isolation during Christmas 2020, his creation and virtual-performances with 3 of his students, “Bells of the Winter Moon” for harp quartet, received significant attention on social media; its music has since been published by Lyon & Healy (Chicago).
Harp teachers, schools and organizations have sought Chan’s advice on teaching, adjudication and developing their own harp studios; these have come from around Ontario, Greater Vancouver area of British Columbia, cities of Shanghai, Shenzhen and Harbin in China, and others. Striving to strengthen the local community through music, Chan has organized harp workshops in different communities and schools around Ontario since 2005, educating the public of all ages and from all walks of life about the harp.
Chan credits his inspirations from his teachers, those include his early studies with Elizabeth Volpѐ Bligh (Principal Harp, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra) in Vancouver where he started the harp; with the legendary Alice Chalifoux (Principal Harp, Cleveland Symphony Orchestra) in multiple summers at the prestigious Salzedo School (Camden, Maine, USA); and world-renowned solo harpist Catherine Michel (Principal Harp, Orchestre National de I’Opéra de Paris) in Paris, France.
He performs on the “Salvi Signature” harp, a one-of-a-kind model made of 23-karat gold and precious Ziricote wood. It was the last masterpiece left behind by the late renowned Victor Salvi of Italy after 60 years of harp-making. His collection of harps includes a rare, historical, and well-preserved Erard, built in Paris for the Belgium International Expo in 1905.
Chan resides in Toronto and during the pandemic, he continued to share his passion in performance and pedagogy with audience and students around and beyond Canada on virtual platforms.