Ray Pool is a harpist known for his performance in New York's leading hotels. He was associated with The Waldorf=Astoria for seventeen years (ending in 2003) playing for tea in The Cocktail Terrace situated over the Park Avenue lobby entrance and in Peacock Alley Restaurant for both dinner and Sunday brunch. During these years, he developed a broad repertoire of popular tunes from Broadway, the Big Band Era, and other American standards. Many arrangements for either lever or pedal harp are published in two volume sets by Lyon & Healy Harps titled
American Classic Pop" (lever harp) and "Tea At The Waldorf" (pedal harp). See the listing of sheet music publications for the exact titles.
Prior to his engagement at The Waldorf=Astoria, Ray was involved in more than a dozen original Broadway productions in New York. "Evita," "Pacific Overtures," "On The Twentieth Century," "La Tragedie de Carmen" (at Lincoln Center), and a revival of "Mame" numbered among the productions for which he was steadily engaged. Filling in for others, he also performed in New York productions of "Carousel," "Pippin," "Shenandoah," "Sweeney Todd," "Sunday In The Park With George," "La Cage Aux Folles," "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying," "The Music Man," "A Chorus Line," "Oklahoma" and "Gypsy."
Outside of New York, tours of "A Little Night Music" and "Madama Butterfly" took him through forty-two states and Canada. He also performed in the European premier of "Mass" by Leonard Bernstein at the Konzerthaus in Vienna, Austria, in a production mounted by Yale University. It was video-taped by the BBC for viewing in the US on "Theater In America" (PBS).
He is the author of various writings on harmony for both lever and pedal harp. Other publications include numerous collections of solos of both popular repertoire, traditional tunes and seasonal favorites for lever harp, pedal harp and multiple pedal harps. He is also a frequent contributor to The Harp Column and The American Folk Harp Journal with articles on harmony and arranging.
The Somerset Folk Harp Festival has been on his schedule every year since its inception. He will appear in Parsippany, NJ, for the eleventh season of Somerset with perfect attendance – his eleventh year on the roster. Classes in 2011 will concentrate on harmony studies and performance skills for advanced players with presentations of “Clever Levers,” “Leverobics” and “Improvisation and Modulation.”
He’ll also offer an add-on workshop for the annual Somerset Lever Harp Teachers’ Symposium to demonstrate introductory teaching methods for playing by ear and learning to read notes. This session geared for teachers will be based on his books “1, 2, 3 - Play!” and “The Treble Harpist.”
An invitation to teach and perform for the Edinburgh International Harp Festival in Scotland gave him an opportunity to demonstrate his love of the lever harp with a new dimension for harpers in the United Kingdom. His five-day hands-on teaching class entitled "Jazz Harp -- 1/2 step at a time" created so much interest that it was expanded to three sessions during the festival.
The Lyon & Healy International Jazz and Pop Harpfest figured prominently earlier in his career. He served on the Artistic Direction Committee of the '99 Harpfast held in Nashville and then again in Salt Lake City, coordinating all harmony studies for three levels of participants. He was a speaker, performer and teacher in both 1991 and 1995 for Harpfests at the University of Arizona in Tucson, and served as a judge for the pedal harp competition for Harpfest in Asilomar, CA, in 1997.
He has made presentations at annual American Harp Society National Conferences in Pittsburgh, Chicago, San Antonio, Washington, D.C., and Ann Arbor, Michigan, and for the International Society of Folk Harpers and Craftsmen (ISFHC) in Burlington, VT and in Galveston, TX, in June of 1998 as both lecturer and soloist.
His workshops based on his harmony studies "3's a Chord" and "Blazing Pedals / Clever Levers" have been presented throughout the US for colleges, chapters of harp societies and teachers with large classes of private students. He has also given master classes and harmony lecture demonstrations for three of Eastman School of Music’s summer program “The Practical Harpist” and the degree students as part of their academic studies.
A graduate of Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, as an organ major, Mr. Pool later studied harp privately with Geraldine Ruegg, Mildred Dilling, Dewey Owens and the great Lucile Lawrence.
He has lived in the same apartment in Manhattan for thirty-one years. He plans to repaint soon...
In performance at the Edinburgh (Scotland) Harp Festival, 2008