alfredo rolando ortiz biography
Internationally acclaimed by the critics, renowned soloist of the "arpa paraguaya" (Paraguayan harp), composer, author, educator and recording artist, Alfredo Rolando Ortiz considers his "most important concerts" PLAYING THE HARP IN THE DELIVERY ROOM during the birth of his second daughter, New Year's Eve, 1980, and also for the birth of a grandson from each one of his two daughters.
Alfredo was born in Cuba. When he was eleven years old he immigrated with his family to Venezuela. Four years later he began studying the Venezuelan folk harp with his school friend Fernando Guerrero. A year later he became a pupil of Alberto Romero on the Paraguayan harp. Just two years after his first harp lesson, he began medical school at Universidad de Antioquia in Medellín, Colombia, began performing professionally and recorded his first album. Music supported his medical studies until graduation. Five years later he moved to the United States to continue studies of Music Therapy. Two years later he married Luz Marina Otero. For eight years from the time of his graduation from medical school, he worked in the medical field as well as continuing as a harpist and recording artist, until his wife became pregnant. In order to have time for his growing family, he then decided to dedicate his life only to them and to his first love: the harp.
With a multicultural repertoire that covers folk, classical and popular music from many countries, as well as his original compositions, Alfredo has performed for audiences of all ages and backgrounds. He has recorded many albums and is the winner of a GOLD RECORD in South America. He has lectured on a variety of subjects at universities, colleges, harp conventions and harp festivals, is the author of several harp music books and articles and his compositions have been performed and recorded by pedal, lever and folk harpists around the world.
His acclaimed “South American Suite for Harp and Orchestra” premiered March 3, 1996. Dr Ortiz was invited to perform his Suite at the World Harp Congress in Prague, Czech Republic, in 1999, with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra. He has also performed his Suite in Venezuela, Guatemala, Brazil, Turkey, New Zealand, Israel and with several orchestras in the United States, among them the New Mexico Symphony, Corona Symphony Orchestra, and the El Paso Symphony. With this last orchestra he recorded his Suite, available in CD. (See Concerts with Orchestra for more information)
On July 22, 2008, during the Tenth World Harp Congress in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, his composition CUMBIA VERDE, created for four harps or harp ensemble, was premiered by 232 harpists, the largest harp ensemble to date.
The World Premiere of his composition CUBAN DREAM AFTER THE STORM, for four pedal harps, was performed by the CHICAGO HARP QUARTET at CARNEGIE HALL, New York, March 26, 2015. The same quartet performed the World Premiere of his composition "PENSAMIENTOS" FOR 4 HARPS at the TEATRO NACIONAL (National Theater), Havana, Cuba, June 3rd, 2017.
Among his solo recitals and concerts with orchestra are:
• Solo Recital and educational audiovisual presentation about the Latin American Harps at the
American Harp Society Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 1976,
the first time ever a non-pedal harp was presented in recital at an American Harp Society Conference.
• Opening Concert of the First World Harp Congress, The Netherlands, 1983
• Third World Harp Congress, Vienna, Austria, 1987
• Rochas Festival of the Harp, Paraguay, 1988
• Edinburgh International Harp Festival, Scotland, 1987, 1991 & 2005
• World Harp Festival, Belfast, Northern Ireland, 1992
• World Harp Congress, Prague, Czech Republic, 1999, where he performed his
"South American Suite for Harp and Orchestra" with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra.
• Soka International Harp Festival, Japan, 1990, 1994, 1998 and 2013
• World Harp Congress, Dublin, Ireland, 2005
• Latin American Harps Encounter, Venezuela - 1998, Mexico - 2000 & 2004, Brazil - 2006
• World Harp Congress, The Netherlands, 2008, when 232 harpists, including Alfredo, performed the
World Premiere of his composition Cumbia Verde.
• International Folk Harp Conference, 1984, 86, 88, 90, 92, 94, 2000, 2003, 2005 and 2010
• Somerset Folk Harp Festival, 2013, 2014, 2015 (Also multiple recitals and
educational workshops and lectures for the Somerset Folk Harp Festival in previous years)
• Seventh World harp Festival (Séptimo Festival Mundial del Arpa), Paraguay, 2013
• 25th Anniversary of the Soka International Harp Festival, Japan, 2013
• Workshops on Latin American harps music and techniques in Sidney, Australia, World Harp Congress - 2014
• Concert with orchestra, performing his South American Suite for Harp and Orchestra with
the Israel Stage Orchestra, during the Second Israeli Harp Festival, 2014.
• First Casanare World Harp Encounter (Primer Encuentro Mundial de Arpas de Casanare), Colombia, 2015.
• Performances and workshop for harpists during the "Third World Encounter Masters of the Harp,"
(Encuentro Mundial Maestros del Arpa), Bogotá, Colombia, 2016 & 2018.
• Recital and workshop for harpists at the American Harp Society Conference, Atlanta, 2016.
• Recital and workshop for harpists at the Camac Harp Festival, Marseille, France, October-2016
• Master Class for Harpists, World Harp Congress, Hong Kong, July -2017
• Recital and Workshop for harpists World Harp Congress, Cardiff, Wales, July 26 & 27, 2022
An ensemble of 68 harps performed his compositions Danza de Luzma and Cumbia Deliciosa during the Congress.
"Alfredo Rolando Ortiz is a superb harpist and exciting artist. His technical virtuosity is matched by his depth of musical expression. His performances feature strong vibrant rhythms, marvelous dynamic contrasts, stylistic verve, and profound sensitivity."
Note: Ms. McDonald was at the time Head of the Harp Department at Juilliard School of Music, New York. For thirty years she was Artistic Director of the World Harp Congress and was Distinguished Professor of Music and Chair of the Harp Department at Indiana University School of Music, Bloomington, Indiana.
"Ortiz is capable of investing the simplest melody with qualities of grandeur. He achieves this through combinations of delicacy and drama which are manifestations of a rare technical authority."
- The Scotsman, Edinburgh, Scotland
"Mesmerizing . . . left this listener breathless"
- Glasgow Herald, Scotland
On July 23rd, 1999, Dr. Alfredo Rolando Ortiz performed his "South American Suite For Harp and Orchestra" with the PRAGUE RADIO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, for the SEVENTH WORLD HARP CONGRESS, in Prague, Czech Republic. The Audience included close to a thousand classical harpists from around the world. The following is from “Harpa” Harp Journal:
“In the Spanish Hall (Prague Castle), together with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, the long evening ended with a THRILLING PERFORMANCE by Alfredo Rolando Ortiz, who presented his "South American Suite for Harp and Orchestra." THE IMPRESSIVE AND ELOQUENT MUSICALITY LEFT THE AUDIENCE BREATHLESS”
- ”Harpa” Harp Journal
Reviews about his "Residencies"
What is a RESIDENCY? During a "residency," besides a solo recital or concert with orchestra, Dr. Ortiz presents
Educational Assemblies for students of all ages, from elementary to university levels, to serve the community where the presenting organization is located.
"Your ability to educate, entertain and win the hearts of so many diverse members
of audiences is also an art form that few possess. You do."
- Sandra McGuinness, Maui Philharmonic Society
"Your ability to teach as well as perform is amazing. And your performance!
There were members brought to tears . . . a fantastic two day residency!"
- Paula Stuettgen, Coordinator Student Activities, University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire