Elzbieta (Ela) Szmyt is a Professor of Music, the chair of the Harp Department, and Director of the Harp Ensemble at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. She studied with Alina Baranowska-Liese, Susann McDonald, and Pierre Jamet. She is a regular performer of solo and chamber recitals and has taught master classes in Europe and the United States. Ms. Szmyt has made several appearances and recordings for Polish radio and television. She has been a featured soloist with the National Philharmonic in Warsaw, Krakow Philharmonic, and the Metropolitan Orchestra of Saint Louis. She has performed and given lectures for the World Harp Congresses in Copenhagen, Prague, and Dublin. Her solo CD, Rhapsodie was released on the DUX label. She is currently a board member of the USA International Harp Competition and has previously served on the Board of Directors of the World Harp Congress.
Jan Jennings is a past first prize winner of the Lyon & Healy International Pop & Jazz Harp competition. She is a widely respected performer and teacher of both classical and popular music. Her students have been finalists in the national competition of the American Harp Society as well as prize winners in local and national music competitions. She has written two instructional books, The Harpist’s Complete Wedding Guidebook, and Effortless Glissing. Ms. Jennings has been the MusicReview Editor for Harp Column, a national industry magazine, for 20 years. She has made five recordings, and several of her arrangements for both pedal and lever harp have been published. Ms. Jennings served two terms as Director-at-Large for the American Harp Society, and two terms as Treasurer. She founded the Central Florida Chapter of the American Harp Society in 1987. She served two terms on the Board of Directors and as Treasurer of the World Harp Congress. Currently a free-lance harpist based in Orlando, she has been the featured artist at prestigious venues in both the U.S. and Europe.
Christine Kercheval Valenta
Christine began studying the harp at the age of 5 when she joined the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music Pre-College Harp Program and has studied with Elzbieta Szmyt for more than 20 years. Christine continued her harp studies at Indiana University where she completed her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology degree, and minors in Human Development & Family Studies and French. Christine currently works as a wedding & special event planner in Indiana. In 2012, Christine, Ela & Jan began planning the first Summer Harp Academy.
"The Summer Harp Academy has been a fantastic experience, and I love meeting new students from all over the country who are as passionate about music as I am. Every summer, every day I learn something new from Jan and Ela, and I appreciate all the time I have been able to spending working with them and our wonderful students. I can't wait for you to join us this summer!"
Aubrey Shumway (2016 - 2018, 2021 - present)
Aubrey Shumway began her harp studies in 2006 with Professor Elzbieta Szmyt as part of the Pre-College Harp Program in the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.
She has competed in numerous competitions such as the Lily Laskine in 2008, USA International Competion in 2013, and the 2011 American Harp Society where she won Third prize in the Intermediate II division. Aubrey performed at the 2011 World Harp Congress Focus on Youth held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. And as part of the VI International Harp Master Class sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and Polish
Heritage and the Joseph Elsner Foundation, she performed two public solo recitals in July of 2012 in Warsaw, Poland. Additional education and instruction includes master classes and private instruction with Distinguished Professor Susann McDonald, Joanna Kozielska, and Anneleen Lenaerts. In 2015, she was principal harpist for the National Symphony Orchestra Summer Institute’s orchestra in Washington DC, where she studied with National Symphony Orchestra principal harpist Adrianna Horne. Aubrey has served as Principal Harpist for the Summer Philharmonic at the Jacobs School of Music with guests artists and directors such as Joshua Bell, Xian Zhang, and Thomas Wilkins. Upon graduating with her Bachelor’s Degree in Harp Performance, she was awarded the prestigious Performer’s Certificate from the Jacobs School of Music in 2018. Returning to Indiana University for her Masters, Aubrey won First Prize in the Indianapolis Matinee Musicale Graduate Division. Having graduated from Indiana University with her Master of Music in 2020, Aubrey is continuing her studies there with Professor Elzbieta Szmyt to achieve an Artist Diploma.