Heather Cornelius is a harpist from St. Paul, Minnesota. Named an honorable mention in the American Harp Society Foundation’s 2020 Anne Adams Awards, she is currently pursuing her Doctor of Musical Arts in harp performance at the University of Minnesota, studying with Kathy Kienzle. Her doctoral research project focuses on the trust-based relationship between teachers and students, and the importance of this relationship for students living with mental illnesses. As a trained Suzuki harp teacher for Book 1, Cornelius also recognizes the significance of music in the lives of children. She invests in her students, to help them take joy in their work and find self-expression.
Heather also regularly collaborates with composers, helping them to realize their creative vision on the harp. In 2018, she was awarded a grant from the American Harp Society to commission Harp and Guitar Sonata by composer and classical guitarist Nathan Cornelius. The brother-sister duo gave the world premiere of Harp and Guitar Sonata, which is now available for digital download from Lyon & Healy, a nationally recognized publisher of harp music. Heather also commissioned Le chant du chat échappé by Nathan Cornelius, which received an honorable mention in the 5th USA International Harp Competition Ruth Inglefield Composition Contest in 2015.
Cornelius was selected to participate in the Orchestral Auditions platform at the World Harp Congress in Cardiff, Wales, in 2022. Other recent orchestral highlights include a side-by-side concert with the Minnesota Orchestra and the University of Minnesota Symphony Orchestra, led by the music director of the Minnesota Orchestra, Osmo Vänskä. With the University of Minnesota Symphony Orchestra, Cornelius also performed Gustav Mahler’s “Adagietto” from Symphony no. 5, conducted by Artistic Director of Orchestral Activities Mark Russell Smith, and the Holocaust oratorio To Be Certain of the Dawn by Stephen Paulus, directed by Professor Kathy Romey.
Cornelius received her Bachelor of Music in harp performance, studying with world-renowned soloist and teacher Judy Loman, at the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Ontario. She holds a Master of Music degree from the University of Minnesota, where she is a current doctoral student with Kathy Kienzle, who served as principal harpist of the Minnesota Orchestra for over 26 years. Cornelius also studied with Isabelle Perrin, harp professor and head of the strings department at the Norwegian Academy of Music, at the 2019 Académie internationale de harpe Pierre Jamet in Gargilesse, France.