Young harpist thrills Vintage Park
Patti Dillard's parents do not have to remind her to practice her harp. She wants to.
The 12-year-old daughter of Kelly and Sean Moore, Baldwin City, has dedicated herself to playing and studying the instrument for the past five years. She was only seven when she first heard the music from a harp, but she was old enough to know she was hearing and seeing her future.
"I saw someone playing the harp at a folk music store in California, where we lived, and that's all it took," said Dillard, who already had a background in piano and music theory. Her mother bought her a small harp the same week.
Studying with professional harpists and acing two harp courses at the University of Kansas, Dillard is not your average harpist, says her mother. When she plays with mentor Phyllis Hoffman at the Hoffman Harp Gallery in Lawrence, people stop on the street and watch.
"International harpists have said that she has the ability to be one of the best harpists in the world," Kelly Moore said.
Dillard is already in demand for weddings, receptions and funerals averaging 10-20 hours of engagements a week. Her schedule often gets so busy, she finds herself turning down jobs.
Locally, Dillard plays at the Three Sisters Inn, Baker University events, and monthly Art Walks. She played for the residents at Vintage Park on Thursday.
"The community has gone out of the way to support Patty," Kelly Moore said. "Baldwin supports its children, and its young artists."
Patti gives personal thanks to Diane Niehoff, owner of the Three Sisters Inn, and Dan Lambert, Baker University president. Niehoff and Lambert often request Dillard for events and recommend her to others an encouragement for her beginning career, Dillard says.
The money Dillard gets for playing is enough to help finance the $20,000 peddle harp she received last week. Keys can be changed on the peddle harp with floor peddles. Dillard has been using a lever harp, and the keys have to be changed by hand.
"The harp she has now is too small, with nine fewer strings," Kelly Moore said. "It's like the difference between a Casio keyboard and a full, grand piano."
"It makes a big difference," Dillard said.
Dillard is taking a break from the harp and from home schooling, attending a church camp this week in Colorado and later visiting relatives. Her music may seem effortless, but it's very physically demanding , Dillard said.
"It's very tiring, especially in December the busiest time of year," said Dillard.
She never tires of playing, and even if she becomes one of the best harpists in the world, she knows who she wants her audience to be.
"I like going into nursing homes and playing for them, so they can find some relief from their health and age" she said. "That is part of my ministry in life.
"I like to share music with other people, share with them how much I enjoy playing a harp."