Photo Credit: Natalie Gaynor | Menil Drawing Institute, Houston, TX

Houston-based harpist Kelsey Sham recently completed her graduate studies at Rice University on a full-tuition scholarship, studying with former Principal Harpist of the Houston Symphony, Paula Page. Ms. Sham completed her bachelor of Harp Performance degree at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music under Yolanda Kondonassis, where she frequently worked with student composers to promote contemporary music and art installations. Ms. Sham also holds a degree in Music History from Oberlin College and Conservatory.

A dedicated orchestral musician, Ms. Sham has performed with ensembles such as the Houston Symphony, Symphony of Southeast Texas, Mississippi Symphony, Brazosport Symphony, Houston Civic Symphony, Corpus Christi Ballet Orchestra, Eastern Music Festival, Chautauqua Institution in New York, The Pacific Region International Summer Music Academy, and Texas Music Festival. During her undergraduate studies, she was selected as a harpist for the “Oberlin in NYC” Tour and performed in Carnegie Hall. Praised for her energetic and passionate performances, she was also selected to perform for the National Federation of Music Clubs Recital at the Chautauqua Institute and the Inauguration Ceremony of Oberlin College’s current president, Carmen Twillie Ambar, in 2018.

A passionate advocate for arts education, she currently maintains a private studio and also serves as a Young Artist with Da Camera of Houston. As a Young Artist, Ms. Sham has led over 100 workshops in emotional and social regulation, poetry, and cultural studies to children in the Greater Houston area, and has also performed in spaces such as The Menil Drawing Institute, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Wortham Center, and more. Ms. Sham has also worked with Young Audiences of Houston to promote the exposure of the Fine Arts within all communities of all backgrounds. In 2019, she was named a Semi-Finalist in the J. William Fulbright grant for her proposal on interdisciplinary performance and classical harp. In 2020, she was awarded the Sviatoslav Richter Fund for Music Outreach to conduct music education programs in Houston, and was also awarded the Dorothy and Mickey Ables Award. During her graduate studies at Rice University, she was named a Brown Scholar, and taught weekly eurhythmics classes in the Michael P. Hammond Preparatory Program at the Shepherd School of Music.

Ms. Sham currently holds the position of AAPI Communications Coordinator with Houston in Action, a collective impact organization focusing on civic engagement and equity in various spaces such as health, racial, reproductive, and climate spaces. She also serves as the Secretary for the Greater Houston Chapter of the American Harp Society and manages their social media and newsletter. Ms. Sham holds a professional certification in digital marketing, and has worked with The Black Sheep Agency LLC, the Houston Asian American Archive, Traktivist, and Shop LIT Live.

A native Houstonian, Ms. Sham considers it a priority to give back to the programs that helped her develop into the musician that she is today. She currently works in various intermediate school programs as a clinician and often engages in music-based community outreach for young children. 

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