BIO

Hailed by the LA Times as an "excellent player" and "a force field unto her own, yet joined in something bigger, " Alison Bjorkedal is a passionate ambassador for the harp, with a focus on new music.

A 2014 GRAMMY award winner, Alison also specializes in performing the music of Harry Partch on replicas of his unique instruments.

Full, printable biography available here

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LIVE

Her symphonic, operatic and ballet performances include The Industry, San Diego Symphony, Pasadena Symphony/Pops Orchestra, Long Beach Symphony, San Luis Obispo Symphony, Downey Symphony, Long Beach Opera, San Diego Opera, Opera Santa Barbara, Opera at the Broad, Golden State Pops Orchestra, Los Angeles Film Orchestra, American Contemporary Ballet, National Ballet of Canada and MUSE/IQUE. She is principal of Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra.

Chamber and solo performances include Jacaranda Chamber Music, Partch Ensemble, wildUP, Sundays at Two (Beverly Hills), The Echo Society, Wadada Leo Smith's Pacifica Coral Reef Orchestra, Salastina Chamber Music Society, Microfest, Just Strings, and Southwest Chamber Music. Since 2004, Alison is part of Duo Ondine with flautist Boglarka Kiss.

Alison was featured as soloist with the Pasadena Symphony, Downey Symphony Orchestra, California Chamber Orchestra, American Contemporary Ballet, Southwest Chamber music, and UC San Diego New Music Ensemble "Palimpsest".

Alison has performed live with Il Divo, Andrea Bocelli, and Idina Menzel.

 

FILM/TV/ALBUMS

In the studio, Alison has performed on records for artists including Sia, Madonna, Nate Ruess, Kid Cudi, Mary J. Blige, Adrian Younge, and Ali Shaheed Muhammed.


Motion picture, video game, and television recordings include Penny Dreadful, League of Legends, Empire, Luke Cage, Finding Dory, Love, Simon, Independence Day: Resurgence, If I Stay, Lucy in the Sky, Annabelle Comes Home, IT 2, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Picard, 13: The Musical, Queens, The Adam Project, The Clauses, Disenchanted, and Obi-Wan Kenobi. 


On screen, she has appeared in Dancing with the Stars, Genshin Impact Anniversary Concert, two PBS Specials for David Foster and Andrea Bocelli ("My Christmas" and "Cinema"), the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and the Pentatonix's "A Very Pentatonix Christmas".

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NEW MUSIC

As an advocate for contemporary music, Alison's notable world premieres include William Kraft's Encounters XII for harp and percussion; James Tenney's "Changes for 6 harps"; Anne LeBaron's HSING for solo harp and LeBaron's "Some Things Should Not Move" for soprano, flute, harp and double bass; and Wadada Leo Smith's Ten Freedom Summers, a 2013 Pulitzer Prize finalist.

US premieres include Gabriela Ortiz's Rio de las Mariposas for two harps and steel drum; Ton That Thiet's Les Jardins De Autre Monde for solo harp and mixed ensemble; Nguyen Thien Daos' Au Dessus de Vent for solo harp and strings; and Unsuk Chin's Cosmigimmicks.


Notable solo performances include Lei Liang's "Harp Concerto" with UC San Diego New Music Ensemble "Palimpsest", Eve Beglarian's "Melancholy Fate", Luciano Berio's Sequenza II.

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Her chamber recordings include Grammy-winning "Plectra and Percussion Dances", Southwest Chamber Music's "Complete Chamber Music of Carlos Chávez, Volume 4" and William Kraft's "Encounters", both Latin-Grammy nominated. As part of Just Strings, she released "Harrison: Works for harp, guitar and percussion".


Solo recordings include James Newton's "Dos Danzas para harp" (Manual of Life) and Robert Carl's "Splectra".


 

PARTCH ENSEMBLE

Alison is a member LA-based ensemble Partch, where she specializes in playing the Kithara, along with Cloud Chamber Bowls and Harmonic Canons. Partch's 2014 recording "Plectra and Percussion Dances" took home the 2014 GRAMMY for Best Classical Compendium. Learn more about the wildly unique music and instruments of Harry Partch here.

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TEACHING

Alison is harp faculty at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Pasadena City College, Occidental College (OXY) and Pomona College. Additionally, she teaches Music Appreciation at Pasadena City College and maintains a private harp studio.  

She has been an outreach artist throughout Southern California for institutions such as USC, Southwest Chamber Music, and MUSE/IQUE. 

Alison is available for lessons, masterclasses, and concerts both in person or via Zoom.  Trial lessons are free for prospective college students considering an institution where she is on faculty.

 

EDUCATION/BEGINNINGS

Alison was born and raised in Kennewick, WA. She began musical studies at age 3 with Suzuki piano. Her freshman year of high school, Alison fell in love with the harp after seeing a classmate perform in the school talent show and begged her parents for lessons. Early studies included driving to Portland, OR to study with Denise Fujikawa.


Alison received her Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Oregon (magna cum laude) where she studied harp with Sally Maxwell and Laura Zaerr. Alison earned her Masters and Doctorate of Musical Arts degree in harp performance from the USC Thornton School of Music, where she studied with JoAnn Turovsky.  

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OUTSIDE THE MUSIC

Alison is passionate about the natural world and loves exploring through hikes and educational activities (like the amazing raptor experience pictured here at Sky Falconry). 


She lives in Glendale, CA where she loves to garden, cook, swim, and hang with her husband Phil. They are the caretakers of several hives of bees and enjoy viewing nature on a pair of Nordic skis whenever they can get away.