MIRAMAR BEACH — At the age of 8, Katie Ott of Miramar Beach fell in love with the harp.
“It was my first instrument, and I completely fell in love with my teacher,” said Katie, daughter of composer/conductor David Ott of Destin. “The first song I played was ‘Moonlight’ by Susann McDonald, and I still teach it to my beginning harp students.”
Katie Ott has been principal harpist of the Mobile Symphony Orchestra, Pensacola Symphony Orchestra, Mobile Opera and Pensacola Opera since 2006, and principal of the Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra since 2007. She also was a principal harpist with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Northwest Florida from 2002-2008 and the Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra from 1998-2001.
“My forte is orchestral playing,” she said. “My favorite type is 20th Century French music, and I love opera — anything written by Puccini or Ravel is on the top of my list. I would hope my harp playing would be described as passionate yet controlled, and I want it to seem effortless but still rhythmic.”
With more than 10 years of experience playing for wedding ceremonies, receptions, holiday parties and corporate events, Katie is in demand. She has played for hundreds of weddings — mostly on the beach.
“I love performing everywhere, but I especially love small, intimate concerts where I can talk to the audience and let them see the harp up close and personal,” Katie said.
Performing at her church, Point Washington United Methodist, about once a month, in recitals and at special appearances, Katie has performed major works as a soloist, including “Angel’s Harp” by her father, “Concerto for Flute and Harp” by Mozart, and “Sacred and Profane Dances” by Debussy.
As the conductor of the Snowbird Singers, Katie chose Broadway classics and songs from her childhood for them to perform.
“My job as conductor is to lead and inspire them to sing well,” Katie said. “We all have a wonderful time together, and I feel very fortunate to be able to work with them.”
Katie assumed some of her father’s conducting duties when he broke his back after he fell 14 feet into the basement below the orchestra pit after the debut of his original work, “The Widow's Lantern,” written for the Pensacola Opera in 2009.
“I really learned a lot about myself and my abilities when I conducted for my dad,” Katie said. “It's very exciting leading a group of musicians, but I don't compose like my dad, so I'll leave that to the pros.”
David has written many pieces for his daughter and said he is honored when she performs pieces he writes just for her. “If I were a student of perfectionism, Katie would be the teacher,” David said. “Her sense of rhythm is one of the finest I have ever known in any musician. It’s a result of her hard work.”
Katie not only has inherited her father’s musical ability, but also his sense of humor: “We ate dinner together every day and literally laughed through the entire meal,” she said. “My dad really set the mood for our family and he’s hilarious, so we all just grew up laughing.”
- Who: Katie Ott will conduct the Snowbird Singers in Broadway classics; dancers from Destin Middle School, under the direction of Melody Gill, will perform to the melody of ‘Dry Bones.’
- When:3 p.m. Saturday
- Where:Santa Rosa Community Church in Santa Rosa Beach
- Admission:Free with a goodwill offering