Joseph Rebman, harp

 Photo: Jim Graham

Joseph Rebman is a rising harpist and composer with a passion for new music. A recipient of the Alice Chalifoux prize for harp, Rebman has performed solo and with ensembles in thirteen different states. In the summer of 2019 he will be premiering his concerto “Hyperion” for harp and orchestra at the Mostly Modern Festival in Saratoga Springs, NY. Previous accolades include semi-finalist for both the Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh competition and the Classics Alive Artists Competition, and a finalist for the National Collegiate Solo Competition hosted by The United States Army Band "Pershing's Own”. He was also a finalist for the Anne Adams Awards competition, and a finalist and honorable mention in the Coeur d’Alene Symphony's Young Artist Competition. During the spring and summer of 2014 he performed the Debussy, Mozart, and Handel concertos with orchestras in Oklahoma and Colorado. He was a winner of the Rocky Ridge Music Center’s concerto competition, and a finalist for the Eastern Music Festival’s concerto competition. Rebman is currently principal harpist with the Kentucky Symphony, the Huntington Symphony (WV) and the Queen City Opera (OH). Previously he was acting principal with the Amarillo Symphony (TX), and guest principal with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic and Fort Smith Symphony (AR).

A strong believer in new music, Rebman is frequently involved in the premieres of new music and the promotion of the harp to young composers. April of 2017 saw the culmination of a passion project to commission and premiere five new works for solo harp, designed to expand the repertoire of the instrument and explore the many capabilities of the harp that are often ignored. This was followed by a second recital in September of 2018 featuring six new works. These works will be the foundation of his first album of harp solos. Rebman was a featured harpist and composer for the 2018 inaugural season of the Mostly Modern Festival at Skidmore College, and at the TUTTI 2017 and 2015 New Music Festival at Denison University. He was also harpist in the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival – Yale School of Music’s New Music Workshop in the summer of 2016. He first discovered a love of new music as principal harp for the FiveOne Experimental Orchestra in Cleveland.

After seeing a need for increased communication between harpists and composers, Rebman created a presentation and packet on the basics of composing for the harp. This lecture has been given to composition students at the Mostly Modern Festival, Atlantic Music Festival, Cleveland Institute of Music Young Composers Program, Rocky Ridge Music Festival, University of Oklahoma, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, and University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Based on this experience, Rebman was invited to be a featured presenter at the 2018 American Harp Society National Conference, speaking as part of a panel on the topic of commissions and working with composers. 

As a composer, Rebman has written for a variety of ensembles, while also specializing in modern techniques of harp composition. He was a winner of the Mostly Modern Festival concerto competition and will premiere his harp concerto Hyperion in their 2019 season. 2017 featured the premiere of Twilightfor solo harp at the 2017 TUTTI New Music Festival at Denison University. 2016 premieres included He Would Not Stay: Seven Poems of A.E. Housmanfor Baritone and piano, premiered by “The Secret Opera” in New York City, Prana for solo violin, commissioned by Catherine Rinderknecht, and Hyperion: Concerto for Harp and Orchestra premiered by the composer with piano. Mnemosyne, a suite of character pieces for harp and flute, was selected for performance at the NACUSA 2016 convention in Knoxville, Tennessee and at the 2015 TUTTI New Music Festival. Erosfor solo harp was featured at the 46th annual Ball State Festival of New Music in 2016, and won third prize in the Ohio Federation of Music Clubs’ Collegiate Composers competition. Summer of 2014 found Rebman in Estes Park, Colorado, as a participant in RRMC’s composition program. The Faculty Ensemble there premiered his song cycle He Would Not Stay: Seven Poems of A.E. Housmanfor Baritone and pierrot ensemble. Rebman also participated in the Atlantic Music Festival, where Mnemosynewas first premiered. Elegy for solo alto flute was selected by the Greater Cleveland Flute Society for inclusion in their Composers’ Connection concert. 

Aside from performing and composing, Rebman is also an active teacher. He directs the harp program at Cincinnati’s School for the Creative and Performing Arts, where students in grades 4-12 have daily harp ensemble rehearsals during the school day. They also perform solo repertoire and perform in the school orchestra. Rebman is also professor of harp at Northern Kentucky University and runs a private studio with students from age 9-80.

Rebman is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music, the University of Oklahoma, and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He has studied harp with Michelle Gwynne, Yolanda Kondonassis, Gaye LeBlanc, and Gillian Benet Sella. Compositions studies have been with Jeremy Allen, Robert Paterson, and Marvin Lamb.

A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Rebman discovered the harp at age ten through Disney’s Fantasia, creating a love for all things harp that was fostered through study with the late Michelle Gwynne and performance in his school’s string orchestra for eight years.