River Town Duo River Town Duo




New Music

River Town Duo

Harp and bass duo

  • $25 Assigned Rows 1-2
  • $15 Assigned Rows 3-5
  • $10 General Admission
  • $5 Student
  • Claire Happel, harp
  • Philip Alejo, bass

Event Details

Since the formation of River Town Duo in 2012, Philip Alejo (double bass) and Claire Happel (harp) have performed at venues including the University of Arizona, University of Illinois, Mackinac Island Music Festival, Notre Dame University, and the University of Wisconsin. During this past summer, River Town Duo performed recitals as invited artists at the International Society of Bassists Convention in Fort Collins, CO and the American Harp Society Summer Institute in Logan, UT. The double bass and harp are beautifully complementary – the bass is free to explore intimate dynamics and lyrical phrasing, while the harp provides wonderful resonance and rhythmic vitality. River Town Duo performances have consistently generated interest among other musicians who seek to play our commissioned repertoire and have reached enthusiastic audiences of music lovers around the country.

To date River Town duo has commissioned five composers to write works for double bass and harp. For Claire and Philip is a 2014 work by Pulitzer Prize and Grammy winning composer Caroline Shaw. Hannah Lash, who teaches composition at Yale University, wrote Leaves and Space in 2015. River Town Duo received generous support from The American Harp Society Grants Program to fund both commissions. Frederick Evans, a graduate from the MM in Composition program at the University of Arizona, composed On Lotusland in 2015. Composers Evan Premo and Whitney Ashe have recently written new compositions for River Town Duo. Premo is a composer, bassist, and former member of The Academy, an esteemed partnership between the Juilliard School and Carnegie Hall. Ashe is composer whose classical and jazz compositions have been recorded for television (Warner Bros.) and theater (The Public Theater, NYC). All five of these commissioned young composers have important and unique compositional voices deserving of performance and recording.


from Variaciones Concertantes (1953) - Alberto Ginastera
Space (2015), Leaves (2015) - Hannah Lash
Lotusland (2015) - Frederick Evans
Eight Folksong Arrangements (1976) - Benjamin Britten
The Circuitous Six (2016) - Whitney Ashe
For Claire and Philip (2014) - Caroline Shaw
Two Meditations on Poems of Mary Oliver (2017 - World Premier) - Evan Premo

Claire Happel

Claire Happel is a versatile performer in music and movement. As a harpist, she has performed with the St. Louis Symphony and Civic Orchestra of Chicago among others and formed chamber projects with oboist Karisa Werdon, bassist Philip Alejo (River Town Duo), guitarist James Moore and mandolin player Jeremy Harting (Noble Fowl Trio), and violist Kim Uwate and flutist Kathleen Winters (Trio 114). An advocate of new music, she has performed with contemporary ensembles such as Ostravská Banda, the Chicago Composers Orchestra, International Ensemble Modern Academy, and on the Pulitzer Series of St. Louis, curated by David Robertson. While in graduate school, she founded and directed the group, Yale Movement Improvisation and Composition, and collaborated with choreographer Jennifer Monson to perform live harp with electronics by Zeena Parkins for the dance work, La Merita. She has received two City of Chicago Cultural Affairs Grants, an American Harp Society Grant, an Illinois Arts Council Professional Development Grant, and an Urbana Arts Grant, and has performed at American Harp Society Conferences in Chicago and Tacoma, presented at the World Harp Congress in Dublin, and was a Fellow at the Saratoga Harp Colony. She received a Fulbright Grant in 2007-08 to study with Jana Bouskova in Prague and holds degrees in music performance from Yale University and the University of Illinois, where she also received a BFA in Dance.

Philip Alejo

Philip Alejo is Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Arizona and bass faculty at Bay View Music Festival (MI). He previously served as Visiting Professor of Bass at the University of Michigan and has performed with the Phoenix Symphony, Tucson Symphony, Chicago Civic Orchestra, Quad City Symphony, Ensemble Dal Niente, Flint Symphony, and Ann Arbor Symphony. As a chamber musician, Philip collaborates regularly with harpist Claire Happel in River Town Duo. RTD has recently premiered newly commissioned works by Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw and Yale composer Hannah Lash. Philip’s additional performances have taken place alongside Menahem Pressler, Yehonatan Berick, Martin Beaver, Paul Coletti, the Prazak Quartet, the Jasper Quartet, Maiya Papach, Spencer Myer, Katinka Kleijn, and David Bowlin. His festival and music center appearances include Spoleto Festival USA (SC), Lucerne Festival (Switzerland), Swannanoa Chamber Music Festival (NC), Mackinac Island Music Festival (MI), Avaloch Farm Music Institute (NH), Oaxaca Instrumenta (Mexico), Aldeburgh Festival (England), Tucson Winter Chamber Music Festival (AZ), Pacific Music Festival (Japan), and Aspen Music Festival (CO). Philip holds degrees from Oberlin College (BA, BM), Yale University (MM), and the University of Michigan (DMA).