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It was the harp that brought together musicians Haley (foreground) and Jey Ping while students at Washington University in St. Louis. The Johnson City couple will perform with the Fredericksburg Community Orchestra at the Van der Stucken Festival this weekend. Photo by Phil Houseal

The Pings will perform with the Fredericksburg Community Orchestras at the Van der Stucken Festival, March 30, 2012, at 7:30 p.m. at St. Joseph's Halle in Fredericksburg. Celebrating Fredericksburg-born composer Frank Van der Stucken with performances by The Arion Maennerchor, Hermann Sons Mixed Chorus, Mezzoo-Soprano Carol Ann Mills, and Dr. Larry Wolz. Free admission.


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Pulling harp strings

by Phil Houseal
Mar 28, 2012


What kind of kid wants to play the harp?

A kid like Haley Ping.

“Everyone played the piano,” Haley remembered thinking as a young girl. “I wanted to play something a little more unusual. I just like to be different.”

Haley always wanted to play the harp. Her mom was reluctant to grant her wish, because it was hard to find a harp teacher in Austin and “she didn’t want to drive around for lessons,” Haley said. So Haley studied piano. But when she got her own drivers license and tracked down a teacher who happened to live around the corner, Haley finally got fingers on her harp strings.

What is the attraction?

“It just has a nice sound,” she said.

But playing harp is not all heavenly. “It is not as portable as a violin,” she said, then added, “But it is easier than a piano to move around.”

The musical pair moved to the area at the same time FCO conductor and Executive Director Theresa Britt was putting together the Fredericksburg Community Orchestra. In fact, they first found out about the group by reading this column.

“I started getting the Fredericksburg newspaper, trying to figure it out because I didn’t know much about the community,” Haley said. “I flipped to the Entertainment section and realized it wasn’t just TV listings – there was an article there.”

So they became charter members of the orchestra, and their playing has been featured at past performances.

Haley is also engaged in the community through the Handwerkers group that meets at the Pioneer Museum in town. She does quilting, crochet, spins yarn, and other handwork.

Haley is playing her harp for this weekend’s performance by the Fredericksburg Community Orchestra at the Van der Stucken Festival at St. Joseph’s Halle.

Her husband, Jey Ping, is first violinist for the orchestra. Jey has played violin since the age of 6. In St. Louis, he was part of the St. Louis Youth Symphony, and performed in the All-State Orchestra.

The fact that Haley strummed harp played a role in getting them together. In fact, it was the first thing he discovered about his then future wife.

“We were on the same floor our freshman year, and during orientation we were supposed to tell three things about each other,” Jey recalled. “One of the things she said was, I play the harp.”

She laughed. “Well, I had to say something unusual!”

It must have worked, because the couple has been married for five years and now live in Johnson City. Jey works for a software company and Haley is a printmaker and artist.

Both appreciate the opportunity to perform in the new Fredericksburg Community Orchestra.

“There are semi-professional orchestras where you have to go every week,” Jey said. “This is a low-key way to engage in the community. This is fun for us.”

The couple now plays together at their church and, of course, in the orchestra.

“We think this is great,” Jey said. “A lot of what music should be is engagement with the community and enjoying yourself when playing. That’s what this is about.”