HarpJulie Smith Phillips


Julie Smith Phillips, appointed Principal Harpist of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra in 2007, is one of the most prominent young American harpists today, performing as both an orchestral musician and concert artist. Gaining international recognition for her performing style and diverse repertoire, Ms. Phillips was the Silver medalist winner in the 2004 USA International Harp Competition and Bronze medalist in 2001. She made her National Symphony Orchestra debut in 2003 and has been honored in numerous competitions throughout the country.

A recitalist and soloist with orchestra, Ms. Phillips’ appearances include performances with the SDSO, the New World Symphony Orchestra, the South Dakota Symphony, the West Los Angeles Symphony, the Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra, the National Repertory Orchestra and the Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra. She has been a featured soloist for the USA International Harp Competition, the Lyon & Healy 150th Birthday Celebration, the American Harp Society National Conferences, the International Harp Festival, Harp Oklahoma Workshop, and has served as Guest Artist at the Young Artist Harp Seminar in Rabun Gap, Georgia.

Equally experienced as a chamber and orchestral musician, Ms. Phillips collaborates with renowned musicians across the country. A founding member of The Myriad Trio, she regularly appears in chamber concerts across the country and has performed abroad in Italy, Japan, China and Taiwan. Her chamber and orchestral festival credits include the Piedmont & Kingston Chamber Music Festivals, Bay Chamber, La Jolla SummerFest, Mainly Mozart, Mozaic Festival, Sun Valley Summer Symphony, Tanglewood Music Festival, National Repertory Orchestra, Spoleto USA Festival and the Pacific Music Festival in Japan. Prior to her post in San Diego, she served as Acting Principal Harpist of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Principal Harpist for the New World Symphony Orchestra.

Ms. Phillips is an avid promoter and performer of new music. Numerous pieces have been written for and premiered by Ms. Phillips, including Tree Suite for Harp by Hannah Lash, Cactus, a double concerto for harp and violin by Michael Torke (premiered by the San Diego Symphony), The Eye of Night by David Bruce, Variations on a Simple Theme by Avner Dorman, Petal by Petal by Lei Liang and Sonata by Jeremy Cavaterra (trios premiered by The Myriad Trio). She has also been a recipient of the Mario Falcao Prize for Best Performance of Mischa Zupko’s Despedida (contemporary music selection at the 2004 USA International Harp Competition).

As a teacher, Ms. Phillips maintains a private studio and works with students of all ages. Formerly head of the Harp Department at Arizona State University (2013-17), she is a certified instructor in the Suzuki method and is the founder and director of the Nebraska Harp Workshop. (For more information see jspharp.com.)

Ms. Phillips has recorded two albums, The Rhapsodic Harp and The Eye of Night (www.themyriadtrio.com). Attending the Cleveland Institute of Music, Ms. Phillips received her Bachelor and Master degrees in harp performance where she studied with Yolanda Kondonassis. Her other primary teachers have included Alice Chalifoux and Patrice Lockhart. Julie Smith Phillips is a native of Hastings, NE and began studying the harp at age 11.


Q: How did you choose your instrument?

A: I first saw a harp in the Hastings Symphony Orchestra, a community orchestra in my hometown, and immediately fell in love with the beauty and sound of the instrument. (Only later did I realize the challenges the harp also has as well!) I begged my parents for two years to play the harp, raising money through performances in order to purchase my own instrument. Finally, when I was 11, my uncle found a used lever harp and with that, I was able to begin taking lessons. Because I quickly grew out of that smaller instrument, I continued raising money, giving recitals and playing my uncle’s calliope at fairs, eventually earning enough to purchase my own harp. My first instrument was a Lyon Healy style 23 which I bought my junior year in high school. 

Q: What are your favorite three tunes or pieces on your iPod/Mp3 or CD collection? 

A: “When You Say Nothing At All” – Alison Krauss; “God Bless the Child” – Billie Holiday; “American Honey” – Lady Antebellum

Q: What are three of your favorite movies? 

A: When Harry Met SallySingin’ in the RainThe Apartment

Q: What is your favorite travel destination? 

A: Maine

Q: What are some favorite composers and/or musical periods? 

A: Brahms, Mahler, Prokofiev. 1850s-1950s 

Q: What good book have you read most recently? 

A: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Q: Where might you be found on a Saturday night if you’re not performing with the Orchestra? 

A: Either at home making a fabulous meal with friends, checking out a new hot spot downtown or perhaps in LA catching the Phil…. 

Q: The non-musical accomplishment you are most proud of is…?

A: Running my first ½ marathon in Chicago