Anna Maria Mendieta enjoys a busy career as a soloist, orchestral musician, recording artist and teacher. She is the principle harpist with the Sacramento Philharmonic and has performed as a soloist and as a member with many symphony orchestras and chamber music groups across the country. She is often a featured soloist with orchestras performing Joaquin Rodrigo’s Harp Concerti “Concierto Serenata” and “Concierto de Aranjuez”, as well as special tango arrangements for harp and orchestra. She has received international recognition as “an exceptional soloist” by the American League of Symphony Orchestras for her performance of the tango music of Astor Piazzolla marking history with the unique programming and use of harp in this musical style. An advocate of contemporary music, Ms. Mendieta previously served a long tenure as the principle harpist with the nationally acclaimed Women’s Philharmonic. Anna Maria was also a featured instrumentalist for several seasons with Theater Flamenco of San Francisco. Ms. Mendieta performed for the 2006 National Harp Conference premiering her presentation of harp and tango music. Her national touring concert-show “Tango del Cielo” is the focus of a documentary film.
Multi-Grammy Award winning tango composers Pablo Ziegler and Daniel Binelli, experts of the tango music of Astor Piazzolla, have specially written music for Ms. Mendieta, which will be featured in an album of Argentine Tango music presented on the harp. Ms. Mendieta has also collaborated with concert pianist and Latin American music specialist, Polly Ferman, and has performed concerts with her and an international music and dance ensemble called, “Leading Ladies of Tango”.
Ms. Mendieta began studying the harp at the age of seven at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with Israeli harpist Efrat Zaklad. Thereafter, she continued her studies with Marjorie Chauvel of Stanford University, and received her degree in Music with honors from Notre Dame de Namur University, Belmont, California, where she now serves on the faculty. Extensive private study followed with San Francisco Symphony harpist Doug Rioth and with renowned harp teacher Alice Chalifoux at the Salzedo Harp Colony in Camden, Maine.
In 2001, in response to the tragedy of September 11th, the National Geographic Society invited Ms. Mendieta to be a featured soloist representing the music of Spain on their album “Serenity – Songs of Peace and Enlightenment”. Previous to that, Sugo Records had signed her to a long-term contract and released her first solo album, “Enchanted Christmas”, with record breaking sales, followed by the release of her second and third albums, entitled “Broadway – Center Stage” and “An Acoustic Christmas”. Anna Maria has also participated on many other recording projects, most notably “The Women’s Philharmonic” and “Florence Price”, both on the Koch International Classic label, “The Music of Chen Yi”, New Albion label, and “A Ceremony of Carols” with the San Francisco Girls Chorus.
Awards and Honors
In recognition of her Spanish heritage, Anna Maria was invited by the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to perform solo concerts for National Hispanic Week in Washington D.C. In addition, she has been honored to perform for Pope Benedict XVI, the King and Queen of Spain and other international dignitaries including President Bill Clinton, President Gorbachev, Secretary of State Colin Powell, former Secretary of State George Schultz, as well as special international performances at the Vatican, and in Rome, Italy, and Madrid, Spain. Ms. Mendieta has appeared as soloist for television, motion pictures, National Public Radio, and the Emmy Awards. Ms. Mendieta is the only harpist to have twice received the “Matz Memorial Award”, sponsored by Lyon & Healy Harp Company for “Outstanding Achievement”.
Anna Maria enjoys performing concerts and shows with celebrity entertainers and is often given the spotlight. She has shared programs with opera singer Frederica von Stade, performed with Frank Sinatra Jr., Johnny Mathis, Olivia Newton John, Josh Groban, and was also the featured accompanist for a television special with Welsh singer Charlotte Church. Song-writer/entertainer Barry Manilow calls her his “favorite harpist”.