Symphony Ensemble to Focus on Harp and Violin

By Julia McDermott

A performance by Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra musicians, punctuated with an intermission and a reception offering prosecco and dessert, will offer Amelia Islanders a delightful cultural experience while supporting music education in Nassau County. Presented by Amelia Residents in Action for the Symphony (ARIAS), “Falling for Harp and Violin” will take place on Sunday, Oct. 29 at 3 p.m. at the Amelia Community Theatre to showcase the power of music to bring people together for cultural enrichment and a meaningful cause. Attendees will enjoy an intimate atmosphere where they can pose questions and chat with Jacksonville Symphony principal harpist Kayo Ishimaru and violinist Jeehee Kang about the performance and their backgrounds.

The seed of ARIAS was planted in 1999 with a focus on music education in public schools when an endeavor known as Instrument Zoo was born. Volunteers solicited musical instruments from all four musical groups to fourth graders and, after a pause during the pandemic, relaunched it last spring to serve fourth and fifth-grade students. In 2003, ARIAS became an affiliate of the Jacksonville Symphony with a three-fold mission: to increase the exposure of the Jacksonville Symphony in Nassau County; to encourage attendance at Jacksonville Symphony Concerts in Jacoby Hall; and to enhance music education in Nassau County schools.

Harpist Kayo Ishimaru was born in Osaka, Japan, studied piano and harp as a child, and later at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. She received a scholarship from the French government to the Paris Conservatory, where she was awarded Premier Prix. Kayo is the harp instructor at Jacksonville University and the University of North Florida. She also has served as principal harpist with Chicago’s Grant Park Music Festival Orchestra since 1991. She has performed with orchestras in the United States, Japan, France and Mexico, including the St. Louis Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic, NHK Symphony Orchestra and The Tokyo Philharmonic.

Born in South Korea, Jeehee Kang began violin lessons at age five and made her solo debut at 15 with the Millennium Symphony Orchestra in South Korea. She earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from Korea National University of Arts (K-Arts) under the tutelage of Sungju Lee. At Indiana University, she studied under Simin Ganatra of the Pacifica Quartet and earned a Master’s degree and Performance Diploma with awarded scholarships and an Artistic Excellence Fellowship. Jeehee was a finalist and 5th prize recipient of the International Violin Solo Competition in Cremona, Italy (2015), and won the Seoul Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Competition in 2013. She was also a chamber musician in Ensemble NEST in Korea and the Niles Quartet based in Lexington. She participated in the Seoul Spring Ensemble Festival, Perigee Hall Lunchtime concerts and Samik Art Hall concerts in Korea. She was a member of the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra and a substitute member of the Nashville Symphony and the New World Symphony. She is currently performing with the Jacksonville Symphony on a one-year contract.

Past ensemble performances hosted by ARIAS in Nassau County include a brass quartet, a percussion ensemble, and a woodwind quintet; a double bass quartet is scheduled to perform here in spring 2024. Each event contributes to the continued flourishing of and exposure to the Symphony on Amelia Island and offers a chance for music and philanthropy to join forces to unite our community in a shared love for the arts.

Tickets for this event are $50 for ARIAS members, $60 for non-members and $20 for students and can be purchased at the ACT box office ( 904-261-6749. Raffle tickets will also be available to support music education and culture.

Julia McDermott is an award-winning nonfiction author, novelist and short story writer, and is an active member of Amelia Island Writers. Her next novel is a psychological thriller based on true events. Visit