Donna studied both music and speech/language pathology at Cleveland State University where she received her masters degree in speech pathology. Music studies there included voice and classical guitar. Donna began her professional music career in the 1970's as a singer and guitarist. She performed in coffeehouses in the Cleveland, Ohio area. After moving to North Carolina for her work in speech pathology, Donna performed as a church musician for six years and began to learn to play the hammered dulcimer. She began by building an instrument from a kit and has since moved to professional dulcimers built by Lee Spears and Jerry Read Smith. Due to the fact that there is limited music written for hammered dulcimer, Donna began transcribing music from classical guitar and other instruments for the dulcimer. She has attended master classes in hammered dulcimer technique but has been primarily self taught on the instrument. Her interests are in the performance of both classical and Celtic music on the hammered dulcimer. The instruments she uses include 3½ and a 4 octave hammered dulcimers. In 1994, Donna began to study the Celtic harp and gradually moved to the classical pedal harp as well. This has included formal training with the pedal harp in order to develop the required technique and hand skills for this instrument. She plays a Celtic harp built by David Thormahlen and a Lyon and Healy pedal harp. Currently, Donna performs as a soloist and with various ensembles. In the group, Braidstream, Donna plays hammered dulcimer and harp along with Rita Hayes, flute, Jeff Johnson, classical guitar and Paul Ghosthorse, cello. Donna has played pedal harp with the Blue Ridge Harp Ensemble and currently performs with Classic Touch, a dulcimer and classical guitar duo (David Stevenson, classical guitar). As a soloist, Donna may perform with either hammered dulcimer, Celtic harp or pedal harp. She has accompanied choirs with Celtic harp and hammered dulcimer and plays frequently a the Biltmore House in Asheville. Donna's recordings include: 'Harmonious'; classical and Celtic music for harp and hammered dulcimer, 'Lo, How a Rose'; the companion Christmas recording and participation in 'Biltmore Estate Christmas' and Braidstream's 'On the Wing.' Her latest effort is 'Celtic Echoes', a CD of Celtic music for harp and hammered dulcimer with a few vocals as well. She has also completed Hospice training and uses her music for critically ill and dying patients. 'I love both the harp and hammered dulcimer and they have taken over my life! I have a weakness for beautiful melodies, whether classical or folk, and love to bring these sounds to people who have previously been unfamiliar with these instruments. Hammered dulcimer music is more than just jigs and reels!' Donna.
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