Biography

Elizabeth Hainen has earned an international reputation as one of classical music’s great harp ambassadors. Hailed by the Washington Post for her “unusual presence with silky transparency” and by the New York Times for her “earthy solidarity,” Hainen has thrilled audiences throughout the world with programs showcasing the diversity—and virtuosity—of her modern-day instrument. As Principal Harpist with The Philadelphia Orchestra for over 20 years, she has presented numerous featured performances to captivated audiences and has been praised by the Philadelphia Inquirer for “her ability to blend and color the musical line,” and “to find transparency in an almost timeless atmosphere.” In high demand as a solo artist, Hainen has collaborated with such eminent conductors and musicians as Joshua Bell, Hilary Hahn, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Michael Tilson Thomas, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Wolfgang Sawallish and Michael Stern. In addition to The Philadelphia Orchestra, she has appeared as soloist with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Anchorage Symphony, Bulgaria National Radio Orchestra, Camerata Ducale in Italy, Chicago Civic Orchestra, China National Symphony Orchestra, City of London Sinfonia, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Iris Orchestra, Kennedy Center Orchestra, Mexico State Symphony, Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Columbia, Vancouver Symphony, and in numerous recitals at Carnegie Hall. “She is a complete harpist who knows and uses her instrument’s strength and brilliance and strikes its fire,” says the Miami Herald’s James Roos. “You miss nothing she wants you to hear.”

As a contemporary and chamber music enthusiast, Hainen has launched major commissioning projects, including works by Pulitzer Prize winners Bernard Rands and Melinda Wagner, the latter being a world premiere of Pan Journal with the Juilliard String Quartet for the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. Hainen treated audiences to the premiere of Nu Shu: Secret Songs of Women commissioned for her by The Philadelphia Orchestra and written for her by acclaimed Beijing Olympics composer Tan Dun. The collaboration between composer and artist is a groundbreaking work for the harp community and classical fans. In 2015, Yannick Nézet-Séguin championed Tan Dun’s masterpiece with Hainen and The Philadelphia Orchestra throughout China and in 2021 the World Premiere Video performance was streamed world-wide for The Philadelphia Orchestra’s Lunar New Year celebration. Hainen has performed at the festivals of Cartagena, Grand Tetons, Kingston, Marlboro, Sachsisch Bohmisches, and at the World Harp Congress; she has appeared on concert series of the Chamber Society of Lincoln Center, Lyon & Healy, Embassy of France in Washington D.C., U. S. Consulate in Hong Kong, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Shanghai Arts Festival and the Oz Asia Festival in Australia, among others.“The guest appearance by Elizabeth Hainen could certainly be counted among the high points of this year,” says The Saxon Times of Hainen’s appearance at the Saxon-Bohemia Music Festival in Meissen, Germany.

The 2023-24 season features Hainen in the Mütter Museum’s Philadelphia Orchestra Musicians Chamber Music Series and a Harp PlayIN for The Philadelphia Orchestra community. Hainen’s discography continues with her ninth solo recording Home in works by Bach, Debussy and Glass, on the heels of Kickstarter winning Les Amis with Michael Stern and IRIS Orchestra for the Avie label. Hainen’s discography includes the lushly romantic Music for Solo Harp on the Naxos label and a recording series for Lyon & Healy harps on the Egan label. “Elizabeth Hainen is a wonderful embodiment of the ‘new’ Philadelphia Sound and a perfect example of how the best musicians can make their instruments become a symphony orchestra, even on their own” The Harp Column on Music for Solo Harp. Hainen’s recently released Harp Concertos on the Avie label with Rossen Milanov and the Bulgarian National Orchestra, was given a four star review by The Telegraph (London): “The tonal range of Hainen’s playing, coupled with her technical finesse and sense of style, bring allure to the entire disc.”

In 2023, Elizabeth Hainen was appointed Artistic Director for the USA International Harp Competition:  founded by Susann McDonald, it is a world-class competition held triennially in Bloomington, Indiana. A highly sought-after harp pedagogue, Hainen serves on the faculties of the world-renowned Curtis Institute of Music and Boyer College of Music and Dance at Temple University and has been invited to adjudicate major international harp competitions in the U.S., Europe, South America, and Asia. As founder of The Lyra Society Hainen has provided free educational outreach to hundreds of school children in urban Philadelphia and the surrounding area.

Born in Toledo, Ohio, Elizabeth Hainen began the harp at age ten. Her extraordinary progress took her to her mentor and teacher, Susann McDonald, at Indiana University School of Music where she was awarded the “Performance Certificate,” and two degrees in performance.  Ms. Hainen has been the recipient of numerous awards, including Winner of the American String Teachers Association and the Chicago Symphony Civic Orchestra Competitions, and Silver Medalist at the First USA International Harp Competition.