biography & resume

American harpist Mollie Marcuson Schiffer has enjoyed a varied career as a symphony and chamber musician, freelance harpist, and teacher. Before relocating to Germany in 2012, Mollie performed regularly as harpist with the St. Paul (MN) Chamber Orchestra and was for five seasons the principal harpist of the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra in Houston, Texas. She has also appeared frequently with many other major American orchestras, including the Houston, San Antonio, Kansas City and Spokane Symphonies, has played under the baton of such eminent conductors as Hans Graf, Marin Alsop, JoAnn Falletta, Michael Stern, Andreas Delfs, Douglas Boyd, Eckart Preu, Claus Peter Flor and Gunther Schuller, and has shared stages with legends of both classical and pop music, such as Dawn Upshaw, Itzhak Perlman, and Gloria Gaynor. 

Mollie is also an enthusiastic advocate for new music, and has shown consistent dedication to performing and promoting it. She served for two seasons as principal harpist at the Cabrillo Festival for Contemporary Music in Santa Cruz, CA and performed regularly with Musiqa, a Houston composers' collective. She appears in the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra’s 2007 recording of works by George Tsontakis, and recorded Karim Al-Zand’s Duet for Viola and Harp with violist Ab Sengupta for an album released in early 2009 ("Chamber Music of Karim Al-Zand"). She has premiered countless orchestral and chamber works by the likes of Tsontakis, Al-Zand, Osvaldo Goliov, Carter Pann, and David Heath, and has collaborated with many young composers on solo and chamber pieces for the harp. She regularly joins forces with New York-based jazz-hip-hop-folk trio, The Oracle Hysterical, comprised of composers Elliot Cole, Doug Balliett, and Brad Balliett, and joined them on their 2011 German tour that culminated with the trio’s residency at the Lucerne Festival.

In 2008, Mollie joined the Metallica tribute harp duo Harptallica, a venture which has taken her all over the United States and Europe. Harptallica has appeared on numerous radio and television stations in the US, participated in festivals such as the Lunatic Luau in Virginia Beach and the MetalliBash on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, and opened for REO Speedwagon and Styx. Harptallica is committed to bring the harp to the attention of new audiences, which is important to Mollie in her solo career as well. She has performed numerous concerts in community centers, hospitals, schools, retirement and nursing homes, and participated in the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra's CONNECT program, for which she gave lectures and demonstrations at schools around the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. 

Mollie has been teaching harp since 2000, and has held faculty positions at Stephen F. Austin State University, Sam Houston State University, and the American Festival for the Arts Summer Music Conservatory in Houston. Her students have gone on to win prizes at regional and state-wide competitions and to complete degrees in harp performance. Mollie began playing the harp at age seven in her home town of Kansas City. She received her bachelor’s degree in harp performance from the University of Minnesota in 2003, and her master’s degree in harp performance in 2006 from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University.  Her main teachers were Paula Page, Alice Chalifoux, Deborah Wells-Clark, Kathy Kienzle, and Francis Miller.




EDUCATION                      

Rice University, Houston, TX, 2004-2006 

  • Master of Music in Harp Performance, 2006
  • Student of Paula Page
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, 1999-2003
  • Bachelor of Music in Harp Performance, 2003
  • Student of Kathy Kienzle, 2000-2003
  • Student of Francis Miller, 1999-2000
Salzedo Summer Harp Colony, Camden, ME, 1998-2002
  • Student of Alice Chalifoux, 1998-2002
  • Student of Jeanne Chalifoux 2001-2002
  • Student of Paula Page, 2002
Private StudiesKansas City Area, 1987-1999
  • Student of Deborah Wells-Clark, 1995-1999
  • Student of Laura Erickson, 1993-1995
  • Student of Phyllis Hoffman, 1987-1993

ORCHESTRAL and ENSEMBLE EXPERIENCE

  • Houston Symphony, Substitute Harp since 2006
  • St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Regular Extra Musician, Harp, since 2005
  • River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, Houston, TX, Principal Harp 2006-2011
  • Minnesota Opera with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, 2006-2010
  • Cabrillo Festival for Contemporary Music, Principal Harp 2009-2010
  • Musiqa Contemporary Music Ensemble, Houston, TX, since 2006
  • Foundation for Modern Music, Houston, TX since 2006
  • Kansas City Symphony, Substitute Harp since 2002
  • San Antonio Symphony, Substitute Harp since 2006
  • Spokane Symphony, Substitute Harp since 2008
  • Shreveport Symphony Orchestra, since 2005
  • Corpus Christi Ballet and Opera Orchestra, Substitute Harp, since 2006

CONCERTO PERFORMANCES

  • Handel-Concerto in Bb, River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, Houston, TX 2008
  • Handel-Concerto in Bb, Orchestra of the Pines, Nacogdoches, TX, 2008
  • Ravel-Introduction and Allegro, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, 2007

RECORDINGS

  • Karim Al-Zand: Chamber MusicAlbany Records, 2009
  • George Tsontakis: Violin Concerto No. 2; Clair de Lune; The Past, The Passion, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Koch Int’l Classics, 2007
  • Graf and Gershwin, Houston Symphony, Houston Symphony Media Productions, 2007

RADIO BROADCASTS

  • Performance Today,  American Public Media, Handel Concerto in Bb with River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, April 14, 2009
  • Performance Today,  American Public Media, Handel Concerto in Bb with River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, November 26, 2008
  • The Front Row, Houston Public Radio, October 9, 2008

TEACHING EXPERIENCE

  • Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, TX, 2006-2012, Faculty
  • Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX, 2009-2011, Faculty
  • American Festival for the Arts Summer Music Conservatory, Houston, TX, 2005-2009
  • Klein Independent School District, Spring, TX, 2004-2008
  • Michael C. Hammond Preparatory Program, Shepherd School of Music, 2004-2006
  • Private Studio, Harp and Piano Lessons, 1999-2011
                Houston, TX, 2004-2011, Students ages 6-30
                Overland Park, KS, 2003-2004, Students ages 14-60
                Minneapolis, MN 1999-2003, Students ages 9-22

EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH

CONNECT Program, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, 2005-2011
  • School visits-lecture performances/instrument demonstrations

Mildred Milligan Scholarship Competition, Houston, TX, 2006

  • Judge, Ranked and critiqued harp students ages 12-21
North Salem High SchoolSalem, OR, 2006
  • Guest Clinician and Performer
  • Performed alongside high school orchestra members, gave instrument demonstration and solo performance, and conducted question and answer session with high school music students on studying music in college, creating a career as a professional musician and other topics.