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Student Wins International Competition Highlighting Musicians with Disabilities

Sophie Graf, a senior who is studying harp performance at Duquesne University's Mary Pappert School of Music, was one of just four musicians selected to perform recently at a special free concert at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage in Washington, D.C.

Graf performed at the May 22 concert as part of the prize package awarded to the winners of the 2015 VSA (Very Special Arts) International Young Soloists Competition. A Jean Kennedy Smith Arts and Disability Program founded in 1984, the competition highlights the talents of young musicians, ages 14-25, living with disabilities. Graf, who has epilepsy, is the principal harpist for Duquesne University's Wind Symphony and Symphony Orchestra.
In addition to the performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, Graf and the other competition winners received a $2,500 cash award and the opportunity to participate in numerous pre-professional activities, including rehearsals, roundtable discussions with music professionals and private lessons with members of the National Symphony Orchestra. The concert, which was streamed live, is available to watch online.

A native of Scripps Ranch near San Diego, Calif., Graf has performed with numerous regional and youth orchestras. She has won many solo competitions, including a 2014 Anne Adams Award from the American Harp Society.

Graf is currently in Houston, Texas, where she is one of just two harpists selected to participate in the 2015 Texas Music Festival Orchestra Fellows program. It is An intensive, four-week orchestral training program for college, graduate and young professional players ages 18-30.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.