15-year-old harpist Sage Po is a recipient of From the Top’s Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award and recently performed at our El Paso taping on June 13 (airing nationally the week of October 19.) Below, Sage reports on her summer studies at the American Harp Society’s Summer Institute, made possible through her $10,000 Young Artist Award, and reflects on her experience performing on From the Top and describes her ideas for her cultural leadership project. She also thanks the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation for making it all possible!
Let me tell you what I did today:
This morning, my Mom and I rushed out of the rooms we’re staying at in order to get to my practice room ASAP! I tuned the gold-plated harp provided for me, sat down, and for the next hour and a half played and replayed my pieces – metronome ticking slowly and then faster, pedals moving sometimes three to a measure!
Skip an hour or two, and I’m intently listening to a fellow contestant in the American Harp Society (AHS)’s National Competition. Another hour later, I’m talking with JoAnn Turovsky – harp teacher at the University of Southern CA – about her program, her students, and her philosophy. At 4 o’clock, there’s a concert by the winners of a different competition! (One of the pieces they used was, in fact, what I played for From the Top! What an experience to get to hear a new interpretation of the work I have so much fun performing!)
By dinnertime, I felt like the morning could’ve been yesterday, and yet there was more to come! I met Dr. Jessica Suchy-Pilalis, of Crane School of Music, who basically sold me on her harp program there (it has a focus on pedagogy – exactly what I want to do!), then found my way to the theater where the evening concert was held. There I watched the performance of pieces new and old by the AHS’s “Concert Artist,” Sadie Turner, who left me awestruck – and very much inspired as well!
What I’m getting to, of course, is that none of this would have been possible for me to experience without your award! And the AHS Summer Institute (which is going on all week – Thursday I get to have a masterclass with Catherine Michel, professor of harp at Zurich University!) isn’t the only thing in my life happening because of you – this summer I’m going to France to study with two different harp masters there! I am aiming to experience as many different styles of teaching as possible, so that I can become a more well-rounded player, so that I can make educated choices of where to apply for colleges, and so that I can find out for myself what works, in order to form an idea of the kind of teacher I want to be!
I had a wonderful time performing on the From the Top radio show (El Paso, June 13) – meeting in person the people I’ve been hearing since I was six, driving to piano lessons; making friends with fellow young musicians; seeing the production come together; cheering from backstage… But that was just the beginning of my “From the Top Experience.” Now it’s time to follow my dreams into new territory, to learn and play and absorb and study and practice, and then come back and share what I’ve received!
When I get home from France, I would like to introduce the harp to more people, interest grade school students in classical music, and bring performances into assisted living facilities in my area. From the Top really inspired me to keep giving back to my community, and gave me tools to use in going about it! I am very excited about creating a cultural leadership project – I’m thinking about possibly setting up a program to bring musicians into the children’s ward at my local hospital!
So I hope you realize how much you are not only giving me the opportunity to follow my dreams, but also giving me awareness of the next generation of musicians that I am capable of inspiring! Thank you, thank you, thank you for this amazing gift!