SCPA's memory of a beloved teacher is helping raise funds for harp education

Michelle Gwynne, harpist and former teacher at the School for Creative and Performing Arts passed away last semester, but her memory will live on through a benefit concert hosted by the Cincinnati Chapter of the American Harp Society.

The concert, which will take place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, aims to not only honor Gwynne and her legacy, but also seeks to gather donations to help purchase a practice harp for the SCPA Harp Program as a “perpetual memorial to Michelle,” says Alaina Graiser, president of Cincinnati’s American Harp Society.

Gwynne, who was with SCPA for more than 18 years, was the driving force behind the creation of the school’s Harp Program and was able to take what was a “practically nonexistent program,” Graiser says, and allow it to thrive.

“She really poured herself into the harp department with thoughtfulness, energy and determination that drove the program to be a really unique asset to the school."

The SCPA Harp Department, former students from year’s past, friends and colleagues of Gwynne will all take part in Wednesday’s performance, which is free to the public. Various items will be up for raffle.

According to Graiser, the SCPA Harp Program is particularly special because it makes a unique instrument like the harp accessible to a large number of students who are diverse in age, race and socioeconomic status.

“There are only a handful of harp programs in public schools in the U.S.,” she says. At its high point, the SCPA Harp Program had upward of 40 students.

Through fundraising efforts, Gwynne was able to secure what Graiser calls “an impressive number” of harps for students to play during class — a testament to Gwynne’s positive influence and position within her students’ lives.

“We believe in the power of this program to touch students' lives in a positive way,” Graiser adds. “And while Michelle is deeply missed, we are honored to remember her vivacious spirit and further her undeniable legacy in the Cincinnati Harp Community.”


- Attend Wednesday’s memorial concert, which takes place at 7 p.m. in the Corbett Theater of the SCPA.

- If you are unable to attend but would like to contribute to the purchase of the practice harp, do so here.

- Share the event page on Facebook, and encourage your friends to enjoy music while giving back to a worthy cause.

Read more articles by Brittany York.

Brittany York is a college educator, freelance writer, and the event producer for Ohio Civics Essential. She loves travel and photography. Keep up with Brittany on Instagram @brittbrittbrittbrittany.