Originally from Chicago, harpist Stephanie Gustafson now resides in Houston, where she is an active performer, educator, and writer. An experienced orchestral musician, she has been Principal Harpist with the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra since August 2015 and is a regular guest of the Houston Symphony and Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra in New Orleans. She has also worked with the Austin Symphony, the Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra, and the El Paso Symphony and Opera. Prior to her move to Houston, Stephanie lived in Washington DC where she held the position of Principal Harpist with the Annapolis Symphony. Outside of the United States, she has performed with orchestras on stages in Europe and South America. In 2013, she worked with Maestro Kurt Nagano and the National Orchestra of Sweden before spending the 2013-2014 season as Acting Principal Harpist of the Orquesta Filarmónica de Santiago, performing numerous symphonies, ballets, and operas at the historic Teatro Municipal de Chile and other venues throughout Santiago.
A passionate educator, Stephanie is a co-founder and co-director of the Houston Youth Harp Ensemble, a Saturday morning program that helps harp students in Houston further their musical growth and build a harp community. She launched the ensemble with Naomi Hoffmeyer in September 2018. Additionally, Stephanie is on faculty at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Twin Lake, Michigan, where she teaches private lessons, coaches chamber groups, and conducts the harp ensemble during the summer. She was also recently named to the faculty of Stephen F. Austin Strings Camp, a week–long summer camp for harp students in Texas. From 2016–2018, Stephanie was a Young Artist with Da Camera of Houston, which allowed her to teach in public, private, and charter schools all across Houston. Through Da Camera, she held musical residencies with the students of The Monarch Institute, a school for kids with neurological disorders, and the TREK program at Travis Elementary. In addition to teaching and performing, Stephanie received a grant through Da Camera to develop a music program at Meyerland Performing and Visual Arts Middle School to help combat school bullying.
Since moving to Houston four years ago, Stephanie has performed all throughout the city, at venues including Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, the Hobby Center, MATCH, Miller Outdoor Theatre, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Menil Collection, Rothko Chapel, the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, and St. John the Divine, among others. This past 2018–2019 season saw the launch of the Lagniappe Trio, in which she performs with BRSO principal flutist Rachel Taratoot Ciraldo and BRSO principal violist Chris Lowry, and the release of Karim Al-Zand’s album, Studies in Nature, on which she is a featured musician.
Since 2017, she has written for Harp Column, a bi–monthly print publication serving the international harp community. Recently appointed News Editor of the magazine, Stephanie regularly interviews harpists around the world, and covers auditions, appointments, album releases, and competitions. She has also served as Secretary of the Houston chapter of the American Harp Society since 2018.
Stephanie received her Master of Music from Manhattan School of Music, where she was a student of Deborah Hoffman, Principal Harpist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for 28 years. She earned her Bachelor of Music from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where she studied with Dr. Ann Yeung.