Valerie Von Pechy Whitcup
Editor – Harp Publications
Valerie Von Pechy Whitcup has been called a musical diamond, sparkling from many facets as a chamber musician, symphony harpist, soloist, composer, studio musician and gifted teacher.
While still a graduate student, Valerie won the position of Principal Harpist with the Fort Lauderdale Symphony, which soon became the Florida Philharmonic. She played for over thirty seasons in that position and with that orchestra in the pit of the Florida Grand Opera, until the orchestra's demise in May of 2003. Following that, she toured with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, played with I Musici Montreal for their concerts in Palm Beach, Florida and accompanied the Miami Dade Community Chorus on its tour of Italy and its performance at the Vatican, which featured music by American choral composers.
She was the harp instructor at the University of Miami Frost School of Music for thirty years. She formed and conducted the University of Miami Harp Ensemble, writing and arranging music for their performances.
While at the U of M, she also taught for the theory composition department and drew from her vast orchestral experience to lecture on "Music in the Classical Period," "The Operas of Puccini," and "The Nature of Music." Her students have won numerous prizes, awards and scholarships, including positions at The Henry Mancini Institute. She has been a judge for the American String Teachers Association harp competitions.
Currently her students play in The Army Band in Washington DC, the rock bands The All-American Rejects and Electric Angels, symphony orchestras and chamber ensembles.
Now living in the mountains of North Carolina with her husband Peter, her project is cataloging and publishing the music of her teacher and mentor, Edward Vito. Vito was Principal Harpist with the NBC Orchestra under the baton of Arturo Toscanini. Through St. Francis Music Publications, which she founded with University of Miami Professor Emeritus, Dr. Lucas Drew, Vito's music is available to harpists for the first time, distributed by Elkin Music International.
In the world of popular music, she has performed, recorded or toured with Frank Sinatra, The BeeGees, Tom Jones, The Moody Blues, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Barry White, KC and the Sunshine Band, Rick James, Tony Bennett, Lauryn Hill and the Reggae band The Third World. She can be seen playing the harp in the infamous wedding scene in the movie ANALYZE THIS, starring Billy Crystal and Robert DiNiro. She performed on NPR's Performance Today as a soloist with the Cavani Quartet and can be heard on all the Florida Philharmonic recordings on Harmonia Mundi, including the award-winning recording of Mahler I.
During her time with the Florida Grand Opera she played for Placido Domingo, Beverly Sills, Rene Fleming, Lucianno Pavarotti, Theresa Stratas, Mirella Freni and many others. She plays on the concert video PAVAROTTI ON THE BEACH and played his final US tour.
A composer in her own right, her musical stories for young listeners, WEBSTER, THE MUSICAL SPIDER and THE ARMADILLO'S PILLOW have been enjoyed by audiences at Villa Vizcaya in Miami, The Highlands Cashiers Chamber Music Festival in North Carolina and The Wilmington Music School in Delaware. Her arrangement of John Corigliano's VOYAGE for flute and harp is published by G. Schirmer. Her trio for oboe, bassoon and harp, FLIGHT OF FANCY (BREAD) was performed at the Highlands Cashiers Music Festival and at the International Double Reed Symposium in Ithaca, NY. Her other works include a duet for flute and harp, a suite of five lullabies for flute, harp and soprano, two pieces for diatonic harp and DREAM AND CSARDAS for string quartet, flute, clarinet and harp.
Most recently she recorded with her friend and colleague, Lea Kibler, flutist. Ms. Kibler's CD, BACK OF BEYOND, features music by Appalachian composers or by composers inspired by the beauty of the mountains such as Ernst Bacon, Sidney Lanier, Robert Beaser, John Jacob Niles and Carlisle Floyd.