Local harpist launches 2 professional albums before graduating high school

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Laural Almquist

Who I am: Laural Almquist

What my music is: Contemporary

What sets my music apart from the rest: “I picked up the harp quickly, and without struggle. Typically, it takes awhile for musicians to learn their first instrument, and on top of the fact my instructor even had to teach me how to read music, but I was already preforming a year after my very first lesson. After playing for four years, I had my first performance in front of thousands of people, and then that got me in contact with my record producer, all which happened my freshman year of high school. Some other things that I think set me apart is my age, the type of instrument I play, and how versatile my instrument is. A nice thing is that I’m still young, and I’m super excited to see where this instrument will bring me, and how much I will improve. At my age, most people don’t have two professional albums out, and so I’m excited to see where this instrument will take me in the future, and how much I will continually improve over time. The harp is also very versatile, and rare to find around nowadays.I  can play nearly anything on it, and it all sounds really nice, even if I play a wrong string. My favorite things to play on the harp are Broadway show tunes, especially Memory and Edelweiss, The Beatles’ Let It Be, and A River Flows In You.” (scroll down to hear more from Laural)

The following is what Laural has to say about harps, how she’s taken the instrument on as her current career, and what she plans to do with it in the future.

“Hello! I am an eighteen year old harpist from Galva, Illinois. I have been playing the Irish Harp for eight years now, this past week. The main difference between the “standard” concert harp and the Irish harp is size, and key changes. The concert harp is six feet two inches tall, and the Irish harp is four feet tall. The height difference also accounts for a string count difference. My Irish harp has 29 strings, and the concert harp has around 47 strings. The other main difference is the way that one changes keys. For the concert harp, you simply change pedals at the baseboard, whereas, with the Irish harp, you simply raise or lower levers.

“I got started with the harp, because when I was four years old, I went up to visit an aunt that lived in Chicago at that time. My grandmother and mother joined me. It was around Christmas time up there, and we were in a mall, when I first discovered a lady in a red dress playing the harp. I then turned to my grandmother and told her, “I want to learn how to play the angel music,” and it’s only gone up from there.

“I released my first album, “A Celtic Christmas,” my freshman year of high school. Like the name suggests, it is split between Christmas songs and Celtic songs. More recently, I released “Dreamers and Stars.” Around the time I was recording my second album, I finally found where I felt I belonged with my genre. I tend to lean towards playing a contemporary genre of music now, in addition to Celtic music and Christmas music (in season).  I sell my albums at the Galva Pharmacy, Bishop Hill Bakery & Eatery. All of my proceeds from my CDs go directly into my college fund, which has really helped me kick off my college savings account. Next year, I am planning on attending a private university to study Pre-Medicine, and minor in Spanish and Music Therapy. I have career aspirations to become a multi-lingual Pediatric Cardiologist.

“When I’m not playing gigs (which I typically have one or more a week,) I am attending Galva High School, working at my part-time job, attending the college classes I have through Black Hawk East Campus, or at an extra curricular practice. My harp keeps me busy, but I love that! It has lead me to meet so many amazing people, and be eternally grateful for how supportive our community is of local musicians.”

Molly Conrad**If you would like to be a Weekly Featured Local Artist/Band on WQAD Studio 8, please complete the Featured Band Contact Form — click here.  Also have a YouTube or SoundCloud link to a single song or a playlist of 2-5 songs that you can submit you would like to feature.