Bio for Molly 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. Currently based in Atlanta, GA, Molly serves as a full-time harp instructor with the Urban Youth Harp Ensemble, an in-school harp program that serves over 70 students in the Atlanta area. In her performing career she has won various awards and competitions including: 2014 National Anne Adams Award, 2014 Artist Presentation Society Auditions, Eastman School of Music concerto competition, and the Wayne Barlow Award for excellence in Harp Performance. 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. 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 Symphony Orchestra, Valdosta Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Freedom Band, and numerous local churches. Molly also performs with MEMO, a flute and harp duo, with award-winning flutist, Elisa Moles, specializing in engaging performances of twentieth and twenty-first century works.  When not performing classically on her Salvi Diana, Molly can be seen performing pop and original works on her Salvi Delta electric harp.

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. She received her Bachelor of Music in Harp Performance, Performer’s Certificate, and Arts Leadership Certificate from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY in the studio of Kathleen Bride. Her previous harp instructors and mentors include Gina Neupert, Marian Shaffer, and Mary Abbas Gourley.

How to Harpo

“How to Harpo” is a lecture recital about the harp career and compositional style and development of the film star/harpist Harpo Marx (1888-1964). Based upon my doctoral thesis titled “How to Harpo: A Performer’s Guide and analysis of compositional and theatrical techniques in the Cinematic, Televised, and Recorded solo pedal harp performances of Harpo Marx,” this recital will provide insight about Harpo’s musical education and showcase his on and off-screen repertoire. The recital evokes the sounds and styles of the Golden Age of Hollywood featuring music from the 1920s-1950s including several transcriptions of Harpo’s performances from film and recordings. Enhanced by a personal interview with Bill Marx, Harpo’s oldest son, and an unpublished memoir by Harpo’s harp mentor, Mildred Dilling, this presentation will offer a glimpse into a relatively unknown side of this famous comedian.