Susan Knapp Thomas

Harp Faculty; Artist Teacher

HCD Music, Instrumental Studies

Hartt Community Division, The Hartt School
F 19
Education

BM, Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester


A well-known and widely respected harpist recognized for her attentive playing, quick adaptability and musicianship, Susan Knapp Thomas has enjoyed an active performance career with orchestras in both the north and the south. Ms. Thomas is Principal Harpist for the Hartford Symphony, and for the Waterbury Symphony in Connecticut, and was recently featured as concerto soloist with Connecticut Valley Symphony Orchestra, performing Camille Saint Saens’ Morceau de Concert. In Florida, she performs actively with the Orlando Philharmonic, Space Coast Symphony, Southwest Florida and Palm Beach Symphonies and has served as Acting Principal Harp for Brevard Symphony Orchestra in Melbourne, Florida.

Equally at home in orchestra pits for shows and opera, Ms. Thomas has played regularly for shows at the Goodspeed Opera House, in addition to touring shows for the Bushnell and the Shubert Theaters in Hartford and New Haven, CT.  She has also been a regular at the Connecticut Concert Opera, Florida Grand Opera, and the Vero Beach Opera in Florida.

As a chamber music artist and concerto soloist, Ms.Thomas appearances include The Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, the Trinity College Summer Concert Series, the Elektra Chamber Ensemble's Music Series in Farmington, Connecticut, performing Handel's Concerto in Bb, the National Flute Convention in concert with flutist Brad Garner, and  multiple performances as part of the Sarasota Musica Viva series in Boca Grande and Bradenton, Florida.

Ms. Thomas has done regular work for the Johnny Mathis and Frank Sinatra Jr. shows. Her backup work includes shows for such notables as Judy Collins, the group "Yes", the Beach Boys, Brian Wilson, Peter Cetera, and others. Her CD, Everlasting Sunday, was a finalist considered by the Greater Hartford Arts Council for one of their donor level gifts. She is also recorded on the Opus label.

A passionate instructor and educator, Ms. Thomas is the Director and Founder of the Connecticut Valley Harp Intensive Summer Camp, which celebrated its 10th anniversary last summer.  She has served as an Effective Competition Preparation Coach for such national competitions as the Anne Adams Awards, and the Lyon and Healy Awards, and judged the AHS MetroHarp Competition in New York City.  Her students have been prize-winners and finalists in multiple national competitions.  She is Co-President of the Connecticut Chapter of the American Harp Society.

Ms. Thomas is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, and a student of Eileen Malone, Phyllis Wright, Aristid von Wurtzler and Barbara Pniewska.

Teaching Philosophy

  • To inspire a love of all music in my students that I hope will carry them throughout their lives, no matter how large or small the role of the harp becomes for them after they leave their Community Division studies.
  • To make their lessons enjoyable, productive and fun, in order to support the above.
  • To foster support, friendliness, and compatibility within the studio, where students have a safe place of productivity, inspiration, and collaboration with peers who play the same instrument, and share the uniqueness associated with being the only harpist in environment their (school, church, community).
  • To generate understanding about commitment, the love of repertoire and the pursuit excellence through study of the harp.
  • To create regular performance/project goals singular to each student’s needs, which instill and maintain enthusiasm.
  • To give support and assistance to projects presented by students, which they wish to undertake and/or complete, by giving helpful markings/fingerings, suggestions for success, or edits to make orchestral parts easier to learn and perform.