Vonda Darr performs as principal harpist on the North Carolina Symphony classical series. She began her musical journey by taking piano lessons from her mother at age four. By age six, she was ready for a second instrument and insisted on harp. She began her studies with Gladys Hubner in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and soon joined the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies. She studied with Gretchen Van Hoesen in Pittsburgh while earning a degree in harp performance. As a college student, she had the opportunity to perform with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra alongside her teacher, with Michael Tilson Thomas as guest conductor—an experience that inspired her love of orchestral playing.
Darr has been the principal harpist for the Augusta Symphony in Georgia since 1993, and was principal harpist for the Augusta Opera for twelve years. She performs as substitute principal and second harp for the Nashville Symphony. She is a session harpist and is a part of the Nashville Recording Orchestra. She was the principal harpist for the Brevard Music Center orchestra in 2021, and has previously been acting principal harpist for the South Carolina Philharmonic and the Greenville Symphony Orchestra in South Carolina. She has also performed on the national tours of Broadway’s The King and I and My Fair Lady, and on Weird Al Yankovic’s Strings Attached tour.
An active chamber and solo recitalist, Darr performs as Duo Venandi with flutist Wendy Cohen and as the Vega Harp Duo with harpist Carolyn Munford, and is a founding member of the Lyra Vivace Chamber Ensemble. The Vega Harp Duo performed the world premiere of Miguel del Aguila’s Submerged for Two Harps in 2021. They commissioned the work Echoes from the South by Martin David Jones, with a world premiere performance at the American Harp Society national conference in 2022. Darr performed with LACE (Living Art Collective Ensemble) at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, has performed on the North Carolina Symphony Manning Chamber Series, and has been a frequent guest artist with Chamber Music Charleston. She has presented chamber concerts for the Piccolo Spoleto Festival and for the American Harp Society National Conference. She also loves performing pop and rock music and experimenting with effects pedals.
Darr is the inventor of Pocket Harp Pedals, available in both a physical device form and an app. It is an interactive harp pedal chart, which is a universally used marking for pedal harpists. The product was launched in 2022.
Darr has recorded two solo harp CD’s, Prayers Without Words and Hear the Angels: A Christmas Collection. Duo Venandi’s debut CD Fantasie has been featured nationally on public radio through Classical 24.