TV program spotlights Boston Symphony’s trailblazing harpist

Posted on: July 28, 2011

In Thursday’s (7/28) Boston Globe, Jeremy Eichler writes, “Ann Hobson Pilot, the former principal harpist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, has enjoyed a long and distinguished career. She was also the first African-American woman to serve as a principal player in any major symphony orchestra. A program airing tonight at 10 on WGBH, ‘A Harpist’s Legacy— Ann Hobson Pilot and the Sound of Change,’ affectionately tells the story of her life as a harpist and her rapid rise through the color barrier in classical music.” On tour with the National Symphony in the late 1960s, Hobson “was not always able to eat in the same restaurants as her colleagues, and some hotels required special permission before admitting her. … Meanwhile her playing was being noticed far and wide. When guest-conducting the NSO, Arthur Fiedler asked her to audition for a principal post with the Boston Pops. She did and got the job, moving to Boston at age 26. In 1980, she was promoted to the principal harp position at the BSO, a post she held until her retirement in 2009. For that occasion, the BSO commissioned a composer of her choice—John Williams—to write her a harp concerto. She gave the premiere of ‘On Willows and Birches’ that same year, and the piece, she proudly tells us, is on its way into the harp repertoire.”

Posted July 28, 2011