Pianist Harriet Jones’ career has been as varied and as colorful as her personality. Her musical talent—evident from her earliest years—was nourished and inspired by the Viennese musician Hans Mahler, whose admonitions to “only study the best music!” still ring in her ear. She has given solo recitals and she performed at Pacifica Radio, where she later presented a feature on the great pianist Clara Haskil. She received her Bachelor of Music in Piano from San Francisco State University, studying with Herman Vanderkamp. More recently, she studied with internationally known pianist William Corbett-Jones.
Following the traditional path was not in Harriet’s ever-curious, searching nature. During the 1970s she studied African-American gospel music with Methodist Music Director Walter Hight while she was choir director at Howard Presbyterian Church in San Francisco. Working with dancers (a period in which she also became famous for designing their costumes!), she became adept at improvising, but equally at finding the most interesting music for the dance, from Schubert and Clementi to Scott Joplin. Playing for the same dancers over long periods, Harriet discovered “they would not tolerate boring music, so I had to choose the best selections I could find.”
This background, coupled with her extraordinary empathy for children of all ages and backgrounds, made her a sought-after teacher. It is also what made her the logical musician to unearth the teaching pieces of Ricci. Ever ready for research and discovery, his music caught her attention and she found that its content had spirit, variety and color. The response from her students made it clear that this music must be brought to the attention of other teachers. She has made this recording for her piano children and she hopes others, too, will find joy in this imaginative addition to the repertoire for the “young and young-at-heart.”