Laura Zaerr began playing the harp at the age of ten. She studied at the university of Oregon under the direction of Sally Maxwell where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in music performance and composition. She was a three-time recipient of the Ruth Lorraine Close award for musical studies. In 1981-82 she studied harp in Paris with Bertille Fournier. She took her master’s degree in harp performance at the Eastman School of Music where she studied with Eileen Malone. While at Eastman she recorded with the likes of Wynton Marsalis, Benita Valente, and James Galway.
Laura Zaerr’s artistry as a soloist earned her the honor of being included on the American Harp Society Concert Artist Program. In this capacity she performed solo recitals throughout the United States. Locally she has appeared as part of the Abbey Bach Festival and the O.S.U. Winter Music Festival. She has also appeared as guest artist with several orchestras throughout Oregon and California, including the Rogue Valley Symphony, the Linfield Chamber Orchestra, and the Diablo Symphony in Walnut Creek. Aside from her solo work, Laura has been a member of the Portland based Oregon Renaissance Band as well as two Celtic bands, Village Green and Trilogy. Laura has also served as the harpist for the Alaskan Cruise ship S.S. Universe Explorer.
In addition to harp performance, Laura studied composition at the University of Oregon with Derek Healey. Her compositions include works for string quartet, woodwind quintet, choir, and most recently two suites for Celtic harp and orchestra, Celtic Concerto and Appalachian Concerto. Laura blends her strong classical background with her love of Celtic harp music to achieve a dazzling showcase for the popular Celtic harp.
Laura Zaerr’s artistic interests extend beyond classical music. She has collaborated with her sister Linda Marie, who is a medievalist, in storytelling. Their consort Psallite presents a collage of poetry, drama, and music from the Middle Ages. Their work can be seen and heard on a video of The Weddyng of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnel funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as a video performance of Sir Orfeo funded by the Chaucer Studio.
Laura also restored a single-action pedal harp built in the 1820s. After nearly two hundred years the Chaillot harp once again sings. Laura’s exquisite performances of little-known classical harp works on this unique and beautiful instrument have gained national attention. The music of this instrument can be heard on two compact disks on the Pandourion label: L’autre jour and One Horse Open Sleigh. For other recordings Laura has available, see the Recordings page on this website.
Laura is currently an instructor at the University of Oregon. She has been guest teacher for harp festivals and workshops in California, Washington, and Canada, as well as organizing concerts and workshops locally. As well as her regular classical work with the Eugene Opera and ballet orchestras, Laura plays in the Latin jazz trio Chuva Boa. When she’s not involved with music Laura enjoys white-water kayaking, gardening, and spending time with her 5 year old adopted son.