For Andrea Mumm, the harp is the perfect accompaniment to warm summer nights. She joined the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra this year as its principal harpist. Currently, she is performing in the symphony’s 11th annual Summer Pops Series. Mumm enjoys playing classical, jazz and Broadway standards to revelers in Symphony Park at SouthPark mall. The five-show run ends on July 3 with an Independence Day spectacular. Joanne Spataro, Correspondent
Q. What attracted you to the harp?
Both my parents are musicians with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, so music has been something I’ve grown up with. I played everything from the violin to piano to viola and I sang in a kid’s chorus, but nothing really grabbed me until I saw the harp. I would sit in on rehearsals at the Met when my parents would play. I had to beg for a couple of years to make my parents buy me a harp and start harp lessons. Since then, there was no looking back. (Harp) was also different from what my family played. My mom’s a violinist, who is now a professor of violin at Montclair State University, my dad’s a violist, and my brother’s a cellist. Harp was something unique.
Q. What’s the hardest part about playing the harp? I would say handling all of the different components at one time. Not only are we reading two lines of music like a pianist and playing with both our hands, we also have to handle seven different foot pedals with our feet while playing. It’s a lot to keep track of.
Q. Did you feel any pressure to be a musician, since you come from a musical family? Not from my family. I had always wanted to be a musician. My parents tried to get me into other activities as well. I did ballet, softball, everything else that little kids do. I put pressure on myself to be as good a musician as I possibly could be because I love it so much.
Q. How do you stay versatile in your repertoire? I’m very focused on classical music, but I expand my horizons as much as possible. I love salsa music, for example. I try to listen to that when I’m not listening to classical music, not necessarily so I can play Latin music but I enjoy listening to it. Jazz harp is something I’d be extremely interested in. It’s a difficult repertoire to play on the harp for technical reasons.
Q. What do you enjoy most about performing in summer concerts? It’s a lot more laid back than our regular concerts. You can bring a meal and a bottle of wine; listen to good music under the stars. It doesn’t get any better to me.