Ann Hobson Pilot's technique is poised between virtuoso strength and poetic subtlety; she is capable of producing an enormous range of volume and a full spectrum of color. Best of all, she is a real communicator; she believes in what she is doing, in what the music has to say.-Richard Dyer, Boston Globe
Her musicality is full of nuance, those insights that allow her to play with a phrase - stretching it here, altering it a fraction there.-Lesley Valdes, Philadelphia Inquirer
Boston Symphony Orchestra principal harpist Ann Hobson Pilot began her musical education at six with piano lessons from her mother, a former concert pianist and a teacher in the Philadelphia public schools. In her teens, she began studying the harp with Mary Ann Castaldo while attending the Philadelphia High School for Girls, continuing her training at the Philadelphia Musical Academy with Marilyn Costello. In the summer of 1962, Ms. Hobson Pilot spent the first of many summers at the Salzedo Harp Colony in Camden, Maine, studying with Alice Chalifoux who was to become her major influence on the harp. She later transferred to the Cleveland Institute of Music to continue her harp studies with Ms. Chalifoux, graduating with a bachelor of music degree in 1966. Ms. Hobson Pilot's first professional appointment came in the 1965-66 season, when the Pittsburgh Symphony employed her as substitute second harpist. In the fall of 1966 she became principal harpist of the National Symphony in Washington, D.C., where she stayed until 1969, when she successfully auditioned for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. She was named principal harpist of the BSO in 1980.
In addition to solo appearances with the Boston Symphony and the Boston Pops, she has appeared as guest artist with orchestras in the United States, Europe, New Zealand, and South Africa, including the St. Trinity Orchestra of Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, and most recently with Boston's Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra. She has participated in the Newport Music Festival, the Marlboro Music Festival, performed with the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, is a member of the contemporary music ensemble "Collage," and is founder of the New England Harp Trio. Currently a faculty member at the New England Conservatory of Music and the Tanglewood Music Center, Ms. Hobson Pilot conducted master classes in China during the BSO's historic 1979 tour of the People's Republic of China.
Ms. Hobson Pilot has received awards from the Pro Arts Society of Philadelphia and the Boston Chapter of Girl Friends and holds an honorary doctor of music degree from Bridgewater State College. She has received numerous distinctions, including the Distinguished Woman of the Year Award in 1991 from the international music fraternity Sigma Alpha Iota; the 1992 School of Music Alumni Achievement Award from the Philadelphia College of Performing Arts School of Music (formerly the Philadelphia Musical Academy); the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1993 from the Cleveland Institute of Music; and the 1997 College Club Career Award. In addition to her many recordings with the Boston Symphony and the Boston Pops, Ms. Hobson Pilot's compact disc releases include her first solo recording, on Boston records; a recent chamber music album, entitled "Contrasts," with former BSO flutist Leone Buyse, also on Boston Records; the harp concertos of Alberto Ginastera and William Mathias with Isaiah Jackson and the English Chamber Orchestra, on Koch International; and the Norman Dello Joio Harp Concerto with James Sedares and the New Zealand Symphony, also on Koch.
Also involved in community affairs in the Boston area, Ms. Hobson
Pilot and her husband, Prentice, have been instrumental in the formation of
the Boston Music Education Collaborative; she is also directing a troubadour
harp program at the Martin Luther King Middle School in Dorchester, and is a
Trustee at the Longy School of Music. The Pilots have also established a concert
series on the islands of St. Maarten, St. Croix, and St. Thomas.
During the 1996-97 season, when she was on sabbatical from the BSO, she and her husband took a trip to Africa as part of a project that involved the study of the origin of the harp. Sponsored by the Museum of Afro American History and WGBH, the project has produced a half-hour documentary based upon the evolution of the harp and includes Ms. Pilot's solo performance with the National Symphony of Johannesburg. The video is entitled Ann Hobson Pilot: A Musical Journey.