Gayle Levant Master Class (on the harp) – November 19, 2011

19 November 2011

“De-mystifying the Harp and More!” – moderated by ASMAC boardmember,orchestrator and arranger Brad Dechter

Gayle Levant, legendary Hollywood Harpist for almost 5 decades will share her stories and knowledge about the harp and studio recording in Hollywood and beyond. Her prolific career includes literally thousands of engagements including performing for top films ( Titanic, The Bucket List, Up.), TV shows (Happy Days, Lost, The Simpsons), records ( Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, The Carpenters) and live performances for world-class artists (Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Josh Groban)…. and more!

Master Class will cover:Harp 101 – the Basics all writers should knowShow and Tell – live demonstration of basic and advanced harp techniquesDo’s and Dont’s – using actual parts from recordings; learns what works and does notSimplifying Chromaticism – do you really know how harmonically complex the harp can be?The other Harps – hear and see Celtic harpsModern Technology – hear all of the harps processed (similar to guitars) by electronicsQ&A – Gayle will answer the top 10 questions submitted to top Hollywood orchestrators and then answer audience questionsReceive a CD including recorded music and written PDFs of harp music, parts and scores.


One of the best-known harpists in Hollywood, Gayle Levant “loves our business with a passion.” She is much appreciated because of her ability to improvise harp parts in records sessions and live performance. She has worked with Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell, Barry Manilow, Paul McCartney, Lateefa, Christine Aguilera, Barbra Streisand, among many others.  She was first harpist to receive the Most Valuable Player award from the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences.  She continued to receive that award annually until they honored her with their Emeritus Award. Gayle is currently playing on the television series, “Lost” and “The Simpsons.” She has also played on the Academy Awards broadcasts for many years.

Gayle Levant was born in Los Angeles, California where she began her musical studies at the age of three on the piano.  At the age of eleven, she was introduced to the harp, and took to it instantly.   She received orchestral training at U.S.C. under the direction of Walter Ducloux, and at U.C.L.A. with Lucas Foss.  She played with the Debut Orchestra under Michael Tilson Thomas.  Gayle’s main dream as a teenager was to eventually become a fine studio harpist, following in the footsteps of her father, the late Mark Levant, a great violinist who was considered by many to be the finest concertmaster ever to come to Los Angeles.  His artistry was compared to that of Jascha Heifetz.Gayle’s career in the studios truly began in 1965-66 in the record industry.  Her list of credits on albums is truly extensive.  She became known as the harpist who could improvise on records after the main music had been recorded, and added her own personal touch to each and every project.  She worked with Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, all of The Carpenters albums, Joanie Mitchell, Barry Manilow, Celine Dion, Josh Groban, Rod Stewart, Michael Bublé and the list goes on and on.In 1969, Gayle began a wonderful, musical relationship with Barbra Streisand, and continues to be a part of every recording project with Barbra, whether it be for film or records.  In 1977, she was awarded the Most Valuable Player’s Award by NARAS for her contribution on the harp to the record industry.  She continued to receive this award for three more years before being given an Emeritus award.

In the 70’s and the 80’s, Gayle was very involved in many television series, such as Happy Days, Love American Style, Laverne and Shirley, Fantasy Island, Dallas, Falcon Crest, Hotel, Knot’s Landing, The Scarecrow and Mrs. King, etc.  For the six years that the T.V. series “Lost” was on the air, she produced a unique, but eerie sound, that Michael Giacchino, composer, used every week.  She has been the harpist for “The Simpsons” from the beginning of it’s long run.  The show is now in it’s 23rd season.  Alf Clausen, composer, continues to create a new score for each episode.

Motion picture scores offered another opportunity to be a part of such a wonderful community.  She was the first harpist to introduce the use of celtic and paraguayan harps to the industry, and these instruments are now used frequently on many television and film scores.  Dan Fogelberg presented her with a platinum album for her celtic harp work on his album, “The Innocent Age.”

One of Gayle’s dreams was to someday play for the Academy Awards.  This dream was realized a number of years ago, when she was asked by Bill Conti, the musical director, to become a part of the orchestra.  She has been playing for the Oscars now for the past seventeen years, and loves being part of such a long standing tradition.  Another highlight for Gayle was being given screen credit for her work on the film “The Bucket List” which opened on Christmas, 2007 with a wonderful score by Marc Shaiman.

Gayle is happily married to John Richards, who is considered to be one of the finest music recording engineers in the world.  They reside in Studio City, Calif, and often travel to England to visit with John’s family who live in London.

Upcoming Events

ASMAC Big Band Hang with Tim Hagans

ASMAC Big Band Hang with Tim Hagans

Tim Hagans shares his big band arrangements. Plus Elliot Deutsch's Big Band Arranging Secrets Revealed. Hosts Scott Healy & John Hinchey.Read More »
ASMAC presents Channel Surfers: Writing for Television

ASMAC presents Channel Surfers: Writing for Television

Kris Carter, Sherri Chung, Daniel Rojas, Jeff Cardoni, & Jeff Russo will share about composing for tv & arranging for Helix Collective live.Read More »