Erica is an accomplished harpist of 21 years who currently plays in the Orange County Symphony and Orange County Wind Symphony. Throughout her travels and life in England, she’s also performed with the Northern Sinfonia, the Leeds Sinfonia, and the Durham Sinfonia. Her home houses her wonderfully airy and light studio in which she teaches and practices between gigs, performances, and weddings.
I61studio: What is your signature style?
Erica: There are technical styles that harpists play in, and I am a French method harpist. And I’ve always been known for my tone. When I was a child winning competitions, it was always because of my tone that I’d win.
I61studio: How did you develop that method of playing?
Erica: When I began harp, I studied with a woman from Belgium who was of the French style. And then went to college at Eastman School of Music and the woman there was the direct influence of a gentlemen named Marcel Grandjany who developed the French method. So she was like his protégé and I studied with her.
I61studio: Was there ever a time you were not a full time harpist?
Erica: Oh yeah, I’ve done all sorts of things. I have worked for Salvi harp company, I have worked for recording labels, I was a marketing manager in New York City. I worked for the government when I was in England, as a marketing manager. So I’m used to working seven days a week.
I61studio: How long have you been playing harp at weddings?
Erica: I have played weddings since I was 15. I’ve been playing weddings a long time.
I61studio: How did you come across the harp and think to pursue it?
Erica: I saw somebody playing it at a country club in Palm desert. I had been playing the piano for about five years and saw the harp and was like: “I want to do that instead! I don’t like piano anymore.”
I61studio: Were you always sure you wanted to pursue harp?
Erica: In high school I knew that I was going to try to go to school for harp. So in my junior year I auditioned for Eastman, earlier than the application time frame. And I was accepted early. So I continued lessons all the way until I went into college and then went to college for harp.
I61studio: What was your favorite thing about living in England?
Erica: I just think people are really nice and the appreciation for music is phenomenal. And there are so many local orchestras that are so good – I mean top-notch. And they’re just community orchestras.
I61studio: Is the wedding harp music style different in Europe?
Erica: In Europe it’s more about popular music. You get a lot of weddings where they want their favorite song arranged on harp. I think I’ve played the Beach Boys as recessional music. They like to come into something they can sing to or hum along with. Over here we’re still a little bit more traditional – more classical.
I61studio: Do you have a favorite musician?
Erica: There are a handful of harpists who I think are amazing. But there’s not really one person for me because I listen to all styles of music and I would say they are all very influential. I listen to country, rap, pop, classical…just a mixed bag. My iPod is full of all sorts of wacky stuff.
I61studio: What have you found to be the most popular harp song for weddings?
Erica: Cannon in D hands down! Pachelbel’s Cannon in D.
I61studio: What do you like to do in your free time?
Erica: I have two gorgeous Afghan hounds; my dogs are my buddies. Charlie the older one does production so he’s done two dog books and a TV commercial. I spend a lot of time with my dogs.
I61studio: What do you love most about doing what you do?
Erica: What I love most is the enjoyment of actually playing. Because no matter if you’re playing a Metallica song or a classical song, it’s fun to make music on harp.
Name: Erica Powell
Services: Wedding music, live events, lessons
Phone Number: 949) 677-7824