Stephanie Claussen of Roseville put a 17-lb. harp to her shoulder and began to play. Heavenly music floated through the air of The Coffee Shop NE. For the next two hours on the evening of Dec. 7, she provided a concert of American folk tunes and Christmas carols. With the brick wall of the coffee shop providing a backdrop, it was easy to forget you were sitting in a store on Johnson Street and imagine yourself listening to a bard in an old Scottish castle (without the cold, drafty air). Many audience members in the packed room listened with their eyes closed.
Claussen is the 2018 U.S. champion of the National Scottish Harp Competition, and it’s easy to see why. She is truly in love with music. She played with a gentle smile on her lips as her long, muscular fingers plucked and strummed the harp, one of five she owns.
She had arranged many of the tunes she played, giving them an old, but contemporary sound. “O Little Town of Bethlehem” was one such tune. “It’s the most terrifying piece to play on a harp,” she said. “There are so many flats and sharps.” In her arrangement, the harpist doesn’t have to change the sharping levers while she plays. The melody of the old hymn was recognizable, but with a more nuanced sound.
Claussen has performed at The Coffee Shop NE several times. I’m sure she’ll be back again.