Erin Freund is a versatile, dynamic, and creative harpist, equally at home performing solo music, chamber music, and orchestral repertoire. Dr. Freund is a frequent recitalist and embraces the challenge of performing virtuosic solo repertoire, spanning ancient and modern works that displays the full capabilities of the harp.
Dr. Freund holds a Doctor of Music degree, Certificate of Performance, and Master of Music degree from Northwestern University, where she studied under former Chicago Lyric Opera principal harpist Elizabeth Cifani. She received a Bachelor of Music degree at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music under internationally acclaimed soloist Yolanda Kondonassis. For two summers, Ms. Freund attended the legendary Salzedo Harp Colony in Camden, Maine, where she was a student of Alice Chalifoux. Her prior teachers include Marcia Dickstein of the Debussy Trio, Paula Page of the Houston Symphony, Joan Holland of the University of Michigan, and Pam Weest-Carrasco.
Dr. Freund is a part-time Assistant Professor of music at Augustana College where she teaches both private harp lessons in her studio, in addition to lecturing several sections each year of The Art of Listening. Teaching is at the core of her musical life as a musician, and loves the opportunities at Augustana to teach both private lessons as well as in a formal classroom setting. She strives to open the minds of her students to new kinds of music, and to open their ears to listen thoughtfully and critically. She aims to equip her harp students with the technical and musical tools necessary to pursue a diverse life of music in the 21st century. Dr. Freund is a registered Suzuki harp teacher, and has served on the faculty of Indiana University South Bend’s Raclin School of the Arts, as well as the Music Institute of Chicago.
As a soloist, Dr. Freund has performed extensively throughout the midwest. She performed the Ginastera Harp Concerto with the Augustana Symphony Orchestra under Daniel Culver (2012). She premiered a transcription of Handel's Organ Concerto in A Major on the harp as a featured soloist with Chicago's Handel Week Festival Orchestra in Oak Park IL (2013), and performed Handel's Harp Concerto in B-flat with their orchestra (2013). She has given recitals at Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland (2006), at First United Methodist Church in Evanston IL (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009), and for a chapter meeting of the Lyric Opera of Chicago (2009). A lecture recital of Dr. Freund's featuring solo harp literature from different eras aired on Chicago Access Network Television (2009). She has given numerous recitals at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Northwestern University, and Augustana College. She was a harp finalist in the ASTA National Solo Competition (2009), and received a National Honorable Mention and Regional Gold Award from the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts' YoungArts program (2002).
As an orchestral harpist, Dr. Freund has performed under the batons of eminent, internationally renowned conductors and composers, including Sir Simon Rattle, Steven Smith, Johnny Mandel, and Edwin Outwater. She is an alumna of the International Festival-Institute at Round Top, the Pierre Monteux School, and the final session of the Henry Mancini Institute. She has appeared with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Quad City Symphony Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfónica de Michoacán, the Evanston Symphony Orchestra, and the Northbrook Symphony Orchestra, among many others. She has performed in Cleveland's Severance Hall and Chicago's Orchestra Hall, among others. Ms. Freund has performed extensively with choirs, and is a seasoned church performer.
Dr. Freund frequently collaborates with other musicians to perform chamber music on recitals and in other performances. She performed at the 15th International Viola D'Amore Congress with Rachel Barton Pine in 2010, and performed chamber music at the International Festival at Round Top (2006) and the Pierre Monteux School (2004 and 2005). At Augustana College, she has collaborated with faculty members Janet Stodd (flute) and Dr. Janina Ehrlich (cello).
As a supporter of new music, Dr. Freund has premiered orchestral works by George S. Clinton, Greg D’Allesio, Jason Eckardt, and Laurence Rosenthal, among others. She premiered the harp concerto “The Parting Glass” by Alan Terricciano with Northwestern University’s Contemporary Music Ensemble in 2011. She premiered German-native Ulf Anneken’s harp solo “Liebesabenteur In Persien,” which bears a dedication to Ms. Freund. She was a performer on world premiere recordings featured on Lewis Nielson’s album The Twittering Machine (2008). She performed at Merkin Hall in New York City with Oberlin's Contemporary Music ensemble (2005). Her solo playing is featured on New York filmmaker Sean Gill’s works Crescendo and Thursday Night. She frequently collaborates with composers, and has led workshops at the Henry Mancini Institute and Northwestern University. Dr. Freund is crediting with editing the harp part to Alan Terricciano's The Goose and the Gander.
Dr. Freund’s true zeal for the harp can be seen in her canon of transcriptions. Her fearless and innovative adaptations extend to hundreds of diverse pieces for the harp. She loves the challenge of transcribing unusual works for the harp, and her projects have included movements of Beethoven and Chopin piano concertos, and Joplin piano rags. Recent projects have included Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty Suite, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition for 2 harps, and Wagner’s Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde. She views each transcription as an opportunity to present beloved pieces of music in a new light, expand the harp’s repertoire, and bust a few stereotypes along the way.
Dr. Freund is an active composer of crossover solo and chamber works that seek to blend classical, folk, and modal elements in a minimalist style. Her composition Merah for 5 harps was premiered in 2005 by the Oberlin Harp Ensemble. She has composed a number of programmatic pedagogical pieces that seek to engage young harpists through technically progressive miniatures with optional accompaniment.
Dr. Freund worked for Lyon & Healy harps from 2007 through 2011 as their harp tester. In this role, she played extensively on each new harp that was produced and each older harp that was rebuilt. She critiqued instruments and worked with harp technicians to make sure each harp's sound was pristine before it reached customers. Dr. Freund's work as a harp tester was included in a segment on Chicago's WTTW PBS segment "Chicago Tonight" detailing Lyon & Healy's factory, and on a WBEZ Chicago Public Radio "Soundmarks" feature, also detailing the factory.
Dr. Freund is dedicated to academia and the pursuit of new information and new perspectives that can shed a unique light on music performance. Dr. Freund’s primary research interest is harp idiom, and the evolution of writing that took place in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. She is committed to helping composers more deeply understand how to write optimally for the harp. Other research interests include the evolution of socio-cultural influences on harp compositions, historical performance practices of renaissance literature, the power of socio-racial climates on the perception of ragtime, and the harmonic syntax of cadences in rock and roll and popular music.
In addition to playing pedal harps, Dr. Freund also plays double-strung harps, and has performed repertoire from the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and 20th century with them.