Our Leadership

Elizabeth Hainen, Artistic Director & Founder

Elizabeth Hainen, principal harp of the Philadelphia Orchestra, has earned an international reputation as one of classical music’s great harp ambassadors. She has presented programs showcasing the diversity and virtuosity of her instrument to audiences throughout the world, receiving critical acclaim.

Ms. Hainen has collaborated with such eminent conductors and musicians as Charles Dutoit, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Michael Tilson Thomas, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Wolfgang Sawallisch, and the Juilliard String Quartet. In addition to the Philadelphia Orchestra, she has appeared as a featured soloist with the City of London Sinfonia, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Bulgarian National Radio Symphony, Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Colombia, Orchestra Camerata Ducale (Italy), Civic Orchestra of Chicago, and State Symphony Orchestra of Mexico. She also appears regularly with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. A champion of new music, Ms. Hainen gave the United States, Chinese, European and Australian Premieres of the Nu Shu: Secret Songs of Women, written for her by Tan Dun.

Ms. Hainen is the founding director of the Lyra Society, an organization to promote new works for the harp and educate young harpists. Through the Lyra Society she has provided educational outreach to hundreds of schoolchildren in urban Philadelphia.

In the 2017–18 Season, she releases Home, her third recording with Avie. She also appears in Lyon and Healy Harps’ inaugural Harptacular concert series.

Ms. Hainen joined the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in 2005 and also teaches at the Boyer College of Music and Dance at Temple University.

Helen Liu Gerhold, Executive Director

Described by the Philadelphia Inquirer as an “exceptionally fine” player, Helen Gerhold is a seasoned international performer, having played solos at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Stars of Tomorrow Concert at the USA International Harp Competition, and the Focus on Youth Concert at the 2011 World Harp Congress. She has been a featured soloist at the Lyon & Healy Summer Concert Series, at the Philadelphia Harp Music Festival, on National Public Radio’s From the Top, with the Lower Merion Symphony Orchestra, and with the Philadelphia Young Artists Orchestra. Among her accolades are the 2013 U.S. International Lyon & Healy Awards and third prize in the Young Professional division of the American Harp Society’s National Competition. She went on the 2017 Philadelphia Orchestra Asia Tour as substitute Second Harp, and was a 2017 Tanglewood Music Center Harp Fellow. Most recently, she played as Second Harp with the Metropolitan Opera in Carnegie Hall, then in their staged World Premiere run of The Hours by Kevin Puts.

Helen has been playing with The Philadelphia Orchestra as a substitute since age 17 and was also Principal Harp of the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra for five seasons. She has been featured in the Harp Column Magazine and on Philadelphia’s 6abc Action News.

In 2001, Helen Gerhold received a harp from her aunt, harpist Yi Liu, and her first lesson with Miss Lucile Lawrence. She is the youngest student of Miss Lucile Lawrence’s and strives to continue her strong legacy. Gerhold continued her harp training with Ms. Lawrence, Virginia Flanagan, Dewey Owens, Judy Loman, and recently graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music, having studied with Elizabeth Hainen as the Marilyn Costello Fellow. In January 2018, she was named Director of Education and September 2019, Executive Director for The Lyra Society, a non-profit organization.

Maryanne Meyer, Director of Education & Teaching Artist

Maryanne Meyer maintains an active performance calendar as orchestral harpist, chamber musician, and solo recitalist throughout five Mid-Atlantic states and in her hometown of Vincennes, Indiana. Maryanne performs regularly as a substitute harpist with The Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and Delaware Symphony Orchestra. An increasingly sought-after guest soloist, she has recently performed concertos with the Annapolis Chamber Players and the Montgomery County Youth Orchestra. A dedicated pedagogue, Maryanne has developed a flourishing private teaching studio and is the resident Teaching Artist at the Girard Academic Music Program, Masterman College Preparatory Middle and High school, and KIPP Elementary School in Philadelphia through the Glissando Program of The Lyra Society. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree and Performer Diploma in harp performance from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, where she studied with Distinguished Professor of Music Susann McDonald. She completed her Master of Music studies at Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance with Elizabeth Hainen, Principal Harpist of The Philadelphia Orchestra. 

Zora Nelson, Director of Community Initiatives

Zora Nelson is a current undergraduate student at New York University, where she is studying harp performance with renowned harpist and recording artist, Brandee Younger. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Zora began her musical career when she was nine years old in the Play On, Philly music program, a program which is sponsored by the Lyra Society. She represented POP at conferences and board meetings as a student ambassador and has been featured in multiple performances within the program. Through POP and other ensembles, such as All Catholic Youth Orchestra and the Temple University Preparatory harp ensemble, she has performed across the east coast from Georgia to New York. As someone who has been directly impacted by the inequities of the classical music world, Zora holds organizations like the Lyra Society in high regard and is honored to be a part of this initiative.

In addition to her musical endeavors, social justice advocacy is a subject that Zora prioritizes in her life. Disturbed by the 2018 tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and the gun violence that she had witnessed within her city, she was moved to use her voice and take charge. In 2019 she was granted the title of Communications Director for March For Our Lives Pennsylvania, a fellow non-profit organization that centers around promoting gun violence prevention policies. This position led her to her current interest in storytelling to help non-profit organizations engage their communities and reach their potential. 

When she’s not writing or practicing harp, you can find Zora roller skating around New York City.