Molly Noble O'Roark
Molly O’Roark, a native of Memphis, TN, is a dynamic performer and composer known for crafting exciting and energetic programs that showcase her love of music and the harp as well as enhancing the traditional concert experience. Currently based in Atlanta, GA, Molly is a full-time harp instructor with the Urban Youth Harp Ensemble, a nonprofit organization that offers free harp instruction to students (grades 6-12) in the Atlanta Public School system both in-school classes and in an afterschool program that serves over 80 students. An award-winning harpist, she has been bestowed with many honors including a winner of 2014 National Anne Adams Awards, the 2014 Artist Presentation Society Auditions in St. Louis, Missouri—O’Roark is the first harpist to win this competition in its 70 year history, the Roslyn Rensch Harp Fellowship to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Wayne Barlow Award for excellence in harp performance from the Eastman School of Music, and Abell Family String Scholarship from the Greater Community Foundation of Memphis.
As a composer, O’Roark likes to weave melodic and sometimes theatrical narratives into her works for harps or mixed ensembles. She has been commissioned for new harp ensemble works by harp duo Lilac 94 (Fall 2019), Michigan State University’s “Michigan Harp Day” 2017-2019, and by the Connecticut Valley Harp Intensive in 2018. As a chamber musician, Molly is a founding member of the harp duo Ginger & Spice with harpist Ann McLaughlin. The innovative duo brings singing, dancing, and theatrical elements to their performances with their unique “four-hands-one-harp” technique which creates an exciting and multimedia-enhanced concert experience. Ginger & Spice have been featured performers at the 2016 American Harp Society National Conference in Atlanta, GA, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, and guest lecturers in the Physics Department at the University of Illinois. She also performs with MEMO, a flute and harp duo, with award-winning flutist, Elisa Moles, specializing in engaging performances of twentieth- century works.
Molly holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts and Masters of Music degree in Harp Performance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In the studio of Dr. Ann Yeung, she served as the harp studio teaching assistant for three years working with both the harp majors and elective lessons program. Her Doctoral thesis was written on the film star/harpist, Harpo Marx. In May 2013, Molly received her Bachelor’s Degree in Harp Performance, Arts Leadership Certificate, and the prestigious Performer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. While studying with Kathleen Bride, Molly won the harp concerto competition and gave a performance of Debussy’s Danses sacrée et profane with the Eastman School Symphony Orchestra. As a student in the Catherine Filene Shouse Arts Leadership Program, she worked as an intern for the Summer@Eastman Sessions and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra Development Office.
In addition to her musical pursuits, Molly has also been recognized for her leadership efforts within her student community and received various honors and awards including the student speaker at the Eastman 2013 Commencement Ceremony in Kodak Hall; a Student Life Award for Excellence in Creative Co-Sponsorship from the University of Rochester; the Susan B. Anthony Scholarship from the Center for Women’s Leadership at the University of Rochester for her leadership and work with the Eastman Students’ Association. Molly served as the President for the American Harp Society Roslyn Rensch Central Illinois Chapter and as a founding member of the Music Graduate Students’ Association at U of I. She is currently the President of the Georgia Chapter of the American Harp Society, Inc.
Since moving to Atlanta in July 2017, Molly has performed with Sarah Brightman, Evanescence, Josh Groban, Lindsey Sterling, Atlanta Pops Orchestra, Augusta Symphony Orchestra, Albany (GA) Symphony Orchestra, Valdosta Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Freedom Band, and numerous local churches.
When not performing classically on her Salvi Diana, Molly can be seen performing pop and original works on her Salvi Delta electric harp. Her previous teachers and mentors include Gina Neupert, Mary Abbay Gourley, and Marian Shaffer.