Looking for a harpist in the Chicago, IL or Milwaukee, WI area to play at your wedding, special event, or company party? I am a full-time professional harpist, performing harp music at wedding and events throughout the Chicago and Milwaukee area - NE Illinois to SE Wisconsin. In addition to being a Chicago wedding musician and Milwaukee wedding harpist (ceremony, shower, reception - cocktail hour and/or dinner) I also perform for parties (birthday, anniversary, Christmas / holiday, retirement, corporate), services (church, christening, funeral), concerts (solo, orchestral), and many other (open house, wine tasting, gallery show, grand opening). My extensive repertoire includes classical, Celtic (Irish), Asian (Chinese), Christian, and Jewish music, as well as popular music, R&B, rock, new age, showtunes, and standards.

Winner of the 2012 Wedding Wire Bride's Choice Awards
Bride's Choice Award Awarded to the 5% of Wedding Pros nationwide! The WeddingWire Bride's Choice Awards recognizes the top local wedding professionals from the WeddingWire Network that demonstrate excellence in quality, service, responsiveness and professionalism. Unlike other awards in which winners are selected by the organization, the WeddingWire Bride's Choice Awards are determined by the quality, quantity, recency, and consistency of reviews from over 1.2 million WeddingWire newlyweds.                                                        
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Photo of Kari with her Harp

Harp Audio Samples
Sound samples in various formats for you to listen to or download.

Repertoire List
A sample song list showing the size and variety of the music I play.

Location and Travel Radius
Where I am located and in which communities I most often perform.

Why Choose Harp Music? Why Choose Me?
Things to consider about choosing your event music and musician.

Music for Your Wedding
A helpful guide to wedding ceremony music.

Read what my clients have to say about me
including this comment from Natalie who got married on 11/7:

"Kari: I wanted to let you know that you were absolutely wonderful at my wedding. You played exactly the music I wanted (especially Bittersweet Symphony, which turned out to be my favorite part of the ceremony) and it all sounded great! You looked simply stunning too! Very elegant! I loved your long hair and your black harp and everything!!! You really made a huge impact on the ceremony. So again, thank you so much for everything that you have done. You were truly one of my favorite parts of my day and I'm glad I went with you as my harpist."

FAQ - Information on Harps and Hiring a Harpist:
"Frequently Asked Questions" about harps and hiring a harpist. Includes questions like "What's the proper term for someone who plays the harp? Harpist, harpsist, harpest, harp player, or harper?", "What are the different types of harps?", "Does a harp require amplification?", "What types of music can be played on the harp?", "What goes into the cost of hiring a harpist?", "How much does a harp weigh", and much more.

Wedding and Event Planning Links
Visit the Links Index page for a list of local Wedding and Event Vendor Links, but here are two to get you started:
Chicago Wedding Pictures
- Affordable wedding photography and video production by experienced professionals.
» Sample Wedding Video - includes video of me playing my harp at a wedding
Reverend Rebecca - The fantastic officiant I chose for my own wedding! Specialties include interfaith, humanistic, ethnic, Celtic and "eco" weddings, personalized to express your core values & highest aspirations.

Pronouncing My Name
The "a" in my name is pronounced like "are" or "car", not like "air" or "carry". It's an old Norwegian name related to the name "Karin". It's not related to the name "Carrie", a derivative of the name Caroline or Karen.

A Little About Myself:
Musical Background and Training

I began studying music at the age of 2 1/2, starting with violin. By the age of 11 I was also taking harp and piano lessons. I have since completed both a Bachelor's and Master's degree in harp performance from Northwestern University, where I studied under Elizabeth Cifani, Lyric Opera principal harpist. Other teachers include Minnesota Orchestra Principal Harpists Joan Mainzer (retired) and Kathy Kienzle (current).

I play a full-sized classical pedal harp--a Lyon & Healy ebony and bronze style 23. My repertoire for the pedal harp includes a broad range of styles--classical (from Medieval and Renaissance to French Romantic and Contemporary), Celtic, Jewish, east Asian, religious, and popular (from the Phantom of the Opera to Enya). I also have smaller repertoires for the folk harp, double-strung folk harp, and the wire-strung Irish harp.

I've been playing for special events for about eighteen years. Some examples include wedding ceremonies and receptions; birthday, anniversary, and retirement parties; open houses, grand openings, and benefits. Previous steady engagements include playing for the Hyatt Deerfield's Sunday brunch every week for six years.

In addition to my freelance work for special events I have appeared in concerts with various ensembles and orchestras throughout the greater Chicago and Milwaukee area. I am the Principal Harpist with the Waukesha Symphony and was the Principal Harpist with the Peoria Symphony and the Elmhurst Symphony for many years. Other appearances include playing for the National Touring Company's production of the Phantom of the Opera at the Civic Opera House in Chicago and being part of the Moody Blues' back-up orchestra at the Star Plaza Theater in Indiana.

Kari with her harp

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Website and text © Kari Gardner, photos by Nikolay Kitsul