Ella Chamberlain of MICDS

When you think of an instrument a high schooler might play, harp probably isn’t near the top of the list, and that’s one of the reasons Ella Chamberlain loves it so much. The MICDS senior has been a harpist with the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra (SLSYO) for the past three seasons. As she prepares to graduate this spring, she’s looking forward to the future and continuing to make music.

How did you start playing the harp?
I first got the idea when I was in kindergarten. I had a friend who had a little pink harp. My dad makes each of my siblings pick a classical instrument to play, so I said that I wanted a pink harp, too. I didn’t end up getting a pink one, but I did start playing when I was 10, and I’ve been committed ever since.

What is your favorite thing about the harp?
I like that I have so much flexibility because not many people play it. I have so many opportunities to play at weddings or with orchestras who need a harpist. If I were a violinist, I don’t think I’d be able to do as much because it’s a more commonly played instrument. It’s nice to do something that not many people do.

How did you get involved with SLSYO?
I take harp lessons with Megan Stout, and when I was a freshman, she told me about the youth orchestra and that their principal harpist was graduating. I was nervous to audition because I’d never played with an orchestra before, but I was convinced by my very adamant harp teacher. The seasons have been on-and-off because of COVID-19, but I’ve loved playing with SLSYO. I’m constantly surrounded by ridiculously talented musicians. There are times when you can get imposter syndrome, but it’s an amazing environment that really motivates and inspires you.

Do you plan on continuing to pursue music?
I don’t plan on minoring in music, but I do want to continue playing. I will be attending Brigham Young University, and it has a very good harp program. If I can keep playing through college, I know there will be opportunities later with community musicians or playing at church on Sundays.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I’ve always been creatively inclined. I love anything to do with music. I’ve been in choir since the sixth grade, and I just enjoy making music with other people. I hope that it’s something I’ll be able to continue doing and won’t have to leave it behind in high school. I also like painting, and I learned to embroider recently. I’ve been on the cheerleading team for four years and captain for two. I helped choreograph the routines, so that’s been a passion of mine, too.