Elizabeth Volpé Bligh became the Vancouver Symphony’s Principal Harpist in 1982, after six seasons as the Principal Harpist of the National Ballet of Canada Orchestra. A graduate of University of Toronto’s Bachelor of Music program in 1975, she studied with Judy Loman (Toronto Symphony), Alice Chalifoux (Cleveland Orchestra) and Edna Phillips (Philadelphia Orchestra). She also performed at master classes with Osian Ellis and Nancy Allen.
Ms. Volpé Bligh’s career includes concerto performances with the VSO and other orchestras, world premieres, chamber music concerts, movie soundtracks and recordings. She is featured in The Greater Vancouver Album, a collection of works by Michael Conway Baker, and performed his Harp Concerto, written for her, first with the Orchestra of the Kootenays, then the VSO. Also with the VSO, she performed another commissioned piece by Scott Good, Sonata for Harp and Strings, in 2014. Through the years, some comments from reviews include: “one of the best harpists in the world” (Nigel Barbour), “a harpist of great skill” (Ray Chatelin), “achingly lovely playing” (Michael Scott), “ensemble and musicianship was spectacular” (Howard Jang), “very fine playing” (Sebastien Lipman, former harpist of Berlin Philharmonic).
Many of Ms. Volpé Bligh’s students have won awards such as the Vancouver Youth Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition, Edith Lando Gifted Youth Scholarship, and RCM Gold Medal, and four students have been members of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada. Her teaching career has included private students and institutions such as the Vancouver Academy of Music, UBC, Canadian International Summer Harp Institute, International Harp Workshop, PRISMA, and the Island Mountain Arts Festival. Students have come from all over the world, i.e. Hong Kong, Singapore, Germany and France.
Ms. Volpé Bligh has had articles published in the American Harp Society Journal, Dutch Harp Journal, the New Zealand Harp Association newsletter, Harp Column and online. She has given master classes in China, New Zealand, Italy, the USA and Canada. Her compositions for solo harp, six of which are included in the 2009 Royal Conservatory of Music Syllabus, are being taught and performed all over the world. She is currently President of the BC Chapter of the American Harp Society/West Coast Harp Society. She chaired the host committee for the World Harp Congress in Vancouver in 2011. One of her pieces, Winter in Vancouver, was performed at its Opening Gala. She has been featured as a performer and panellist at American Harp Society Conferences, World Harp Congresses and other festivals, was a judge at the 2010 OSM Standard Life Competition, taught and performed at the International Harp Workshop in Italy in July, 2012, and co-founded Canadian International Summer Harp Institute in 2012. She commissioned and premiered Sonata for Harp and Strings by Scott Good and performed it and her own compositions at the World Harp Congress in Sydney, Australia in 2014.
Outside of music, she is married to Ross Bligh and is the mother of twins, James and Katrina. Present and past hobbies include skiing, sailing, flamenco dancing, cooking and gardening.
Live performance of Elizabeth Volpé Bligh and Peder Maclellan from the 2017 VSOIW faculty recital:
Live performance of Songs of Nymphs by Marjan Mozetich in 2012: