rita costanzi

Rita Costanzi - Harpist, Teacher, Actor and Composer

Solo Concert Harpist

Heralded as an "artist of immense gifts", Harpist Rita Costanzi continues to captivate audiences with the warmth, conviction and exquisite virtuosity of her playing. She maintains an international performing career as a soloist and chamber music recitalist.



Master Class in Panama, 2015
Urban Youth Harp Ensemble,
Molly O'Roark, Instructor,  Atlanta

Rita Costanzi was on faculty at The University of British Columbia School of Music, The Symphony Orchestra Academy of the Pacific and the Courtenay Youth Music Festival during her Vancouver residence, and was subsequently invited to join the Faculty of New York University's Steinhardt School of Music for three years upon relocating to New York, in 2007. She now enjoys giving Master Classes in conjunction with her solo performances as well as her yearly association as Professor of Harp at The Festival de Musica de Santa Catarina (FEMUSC) in Brazil. She was Founder and Artistic Director of The International Harp Academy of the Pacific in 2013 – an experimental “Harp Colony” in Canada – which she hopes to continue in the future. Costanzi has been invited to teach at the ISHA Festival in Bulgaria, El Sistema in Venezuela and the International Harp Week in Argentina, inspiring students to expand their thinking, realize their highest potential with the instrument and, above all, imbue every note with purpose, direction and feeling.

Student Testimonials

"Before studying with Mrs. Rita Costanzi I had a difficult time expressing my feelings through the music, but through her supreme artistry I began to make music truly from the heart. She introduced me to the profound depth in music, through the colors of every note, and the subtleties of dynamic inflection. Her teaching is always  inspiring, powerful, and complete. Mrs. Costanzi does not only teach her students to be the best harpists, but she teaches us to be great artists in life. While nurtured by her love, one is also never allowed to give anything less than his or her best.

As a performer, Mrs. Costanzi's unique artistry brings a whole new meaning to playing the harp.

I have had the privilege of being Mrs. Costanzi's student for 7 years. During this time I grew immeasurably as person and artist; and without her, I would never be where I am now. A towering figure in all walks of life, Mrs. Costanzi has my utmost respect and love."

Joy Yeh, Doctoral Studies, Indiana University


"I was instantly intrigued by Rita Costanzi's charismatic teaching and her passion for the harp. Rita lives, breathes, and communicates the instrument in a way that is new and fresh for the harpists of tomorrow.  After a masterclass with Rita, I felt energized and excited about music. She helps students rediscover their love for their art and for the harp itself through her unique instruction. Rita challenges students to let their imagination soar by daring them to embrace their individuality and personal relationship to music. A harpist, a mentor, and a true artist, Rita Costanzi always offers an unforgettable experience."   

Angelica Hairston, Harp Student, The Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto, Ontario Canada


"I am forever grateful and honored that I could have Rita Costanzi as my chamber music coach at New York University for a year and a half. She really took me to a different level of playing and interpreting music.  Rita is such an inspiring and passionate musician and person. I've learned so much from her not only about music but also about life. She helped me understand that I need to be a mature, well-rounded person first before being a good musician. 

It is such a valuable experience to work with her; she really takes your hand and invites you on a journey that leads to greater understanding of music and of life."

Yoobin Whang 
NYU graduate with Bachelor of Music 

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The Collected Silences of David's Mother
by Don Mowatt, 2000

rita constanziWith "The Collected Silences of David's Mother" by Don Mowatt, Rita Costanzi reaches another dimension on her path as a performance artist. This play is set in the desert community where the historical King David grew up. It is a story told from the point of view of David's mother, who, the authour imagines, taught David to play the harp and influenced his poetical and spiritual direction. The play is a series of stories and meditations on self-discovery, listening for the voice of God, accepting God's long silences and showing compassion for the troubles of others. It aims to be both an entertainment and a profound reflection on the words of Judaism, Islam and Christianity. This piece combines images, sayings, metaphors and points of reference from all three Abrahamic religions.

soundclip Click here to listen to an excerpt from David's Mother (MP3, 1.75 MB)

"When Rita Costanzi first presented The Collected Silences of David's Mother at the Chautauqua Institution in New York, her speech, her silence and the language of her body evoked a sense of awe that was close to worship. It had something also of the strange and terrifying beauty that only great art can achieve."

Ross Mackenzie, Director
Chautauqua Institution

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A Score to Settle
A musical monologue for solo harpist, 2007
Written by Kico Gonzalez-Risso with music by Rita Costanzi

rita constanziTrue confessions of the woman behind the harp! Secrets never-before revealed! A Festival Vancouver Premiere - August 2007!

From the initial spark of genius - to the grand plan to change the world - to the final reconciliation of art and life, A SCORE TO SETTLE is a musician's comic confrontation with mortality. A tell-all tale of music, passion and a very large instrument.

“Rita Costanzi returned to Vancouver for the first afternoon show, “A Score to Settle: A Musical Monologue for Solo Harpist.” Writer/director Kico Gonzalez-Rissos’s vehicle for Costanzi is almost indescribably wonderful: there has been no better local blending of music and drama since the fabled 1997 Morris Panych /Wendy Gorling production of “The Overcoat.” Most Vancouver music fans know Costanzi as a naturally gifted performer; this remarkable piece reveals her as a polished, energetic comic actress. Costanzi’s own music consisted of little more than a couple of songs and a handful of atmospheric cues, but her contribution was so smoothly integrated that any other music would have been unthinkable."

David Gordon Duke
Vancouver Sun August 13, 2007

New Direction and Staging:

rita constanziIn collaboration with Hal Prince's long time Associate, Arthur Masella, Rita Costanzi premiered a new Hybrid Monologue/Concert Version of "A Score to Settle" at the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival in August, 2010, receiving a huge standing ovation and much acclaim. Though not reviewed, Actor Richard Hanna pronounced it: "Sensational! Beautifully written, sensitively played and exuberantly performed."  Viewers have described it as "Hilarious, Sensuous, Entertaining, Engaging, Compelling and Deeply Moving!"

click herePlease click here to view the "A Score to Settle" flyer


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Reviews of David's Mother:

I found the excerpts very atmospheric, striking, and powerful. These moments are very impressive. If I may say so, Rita Costanzi has the admirable knack of conveying thought and of filling silences. It’s wonderful, and I suppose quite rare, to have someone play so sensitively and also perform so intelligently, and with such emotional involvement (I very much like the lived in quality of the voice, by the way). This type of thing is a rarity.

John Theocharis
BBC Producer

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With remarkable sensitivity and a marvelous stage presence, Rita Costanzi has given voice and music to the long- concealed silences of David's Mother, in this theatrical work created expressly for her by Don Mowatt.

Those who, like us, have remained struck by the intensity of Rita's interpretation both as an actress and musician are left with the hope of seeing her again in a solo concert for this extraordinary instrument — the harp.

Anna Lucentini

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Although Don Mowatt's 'The Collected Silences of David's Mother' (2000) reclaims the 'feminine principle' as the unacknowledged source of healing within the Judaeo-Christian tradition, this particular piece was not only written for Rita Costanzi, but inspired by the healing quality of her music. Thus the transformed Old Testament story 'The Collected Silences of David's Mother' (2000) is more a living imagination and testimony of the healing capacity of Rita Costanzi. Although a highly esteemed harpist, Rita Costanzi plays the Celtic harp for the terminally ill and dying in hospitals, hospices and private homes.

Elizabeth Carmack
Cambridge Music Conference, 2002

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Rita Costanzi not only regularly commissioned works from Canadian composers during her twenty-eight year residency in Vancouver, but premiered her own composition for solo harp in 1995 entitled: "Know You Like Star and Storm" to enthusiastic acclaim. In addition to composing all the music for her theater pieces, her new work for women's choir, children's choir and narrator "Beneath Her Heart" (2006) will be premiered by The Elektra Women's Choir on April 26, 2008 at the Ryerson United Church, Vancouver.

“Star Harpist Shines in Dramatic, Challenging Constellation”

Costanzi’s own composition Know You Like Star and Storm...caught me completely by surprise

Concluding the first half of the program was Costanzi’s own composition Know You Like Star and Storm, which caught me completely by surprise. As she crouched behind the harp as though it were a mask, the musician recited lines from Rainer-Maria Rilke’s “The Poet Speaks of Praising”; the words contend that the poet’s purpose is simply to praise. A Middle Eastern pulse, oddly suited to the harp, ran through the piece and the harpist’s impassioned strumming caused an atonal clangour that was nonetheless compelling and enchanting, like the sacred banging of a gong in religious rituals. The piece’s intensity roused the sizeable crowd, which brought Costanzi back for several bows with enthusiastic foot-stomping, hooting and pounding applause.

Vesta Giles, Georgia Straight

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