Biography

Concert harpist Dr. Alison Attar specializes in contemporary and Baroque music. A champion of new music, Attar performs regularly with several new music groups, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNOW, Fulcrum Point and Contempo (formerly Contemporary Chamber Players). One of Attar’s greatest joys is working and collaborating with living composers, including George Crumb, Osvaldo Golijov, Sofia Gubaidulina, Marta Ptasznska, Bernard Rands, Laura Schwendinger, Augusta Reed Thomas and Param Vir, among others. She was a founding member of the quartet Pinotage (flute, harp, viola and mezzo-soprano) and the Marinos Trio (guitar, harp and mandolin). Attar performed throughout the United States with these groups, including the Festival of New American Music in California, “Outside the Box” Music Festival and Sonic Impact in Illinois, and Carnegie’s Weil Hall in New York. Pinotage and the Marinos Trio recorded works by Lawrence Axelrod, Kathleen Ginther, Eric Gross, the late William Karlins, Robert Lombardo, Elizabeth Start and the late Arnold Rosner.

Dr. Alison Attar
Dr. Alison Attar

Attar’s interest in historical harps, specifically multi-row instruments, has led to performances with Boston Baroque, Boston’s Handel & Haydn Society (including a US tour and performances at the 1996 Edinburgh Festival in Scotland, the late Christopher Hogwood conducting, Mark Morris choreography), Chicago Opera Theater, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Chicago’s Music of the Baroque and Canada’s premiere Baroque orchestra, Tafelmusik. Attar has also performed and recorded with San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Opera Lafayette in Washington D.C.

Additional highlights of Attar’s career include the Chicago Symphony’s 2014 Beyond the Score project “A Pierre Dream,” and two full cycles of Der Ring des Nibelungen with the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She has also performed with the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra, Green Bay Symphony Orchestra, Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Ballet, Skylight Music Theatre, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Midsummer’s Music Festival (WI) and the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra (FL). Attar toured Taiwan with Chicago’s Symphonic Pops Orchestra and served as Principal Harpist for Arnold Roth’s Chicagoland Pops Orchestra, where she performed with a myriad of popular singers.

Attar is highly regarded by her colleagues for her professionalism, leadership, versatility, vibrant and expressive sound and her uncanny rhythm. Dr. Alison Attar holds a B.M., M.M., and D.M. in harp performance and a B.A. in Italian culture, all from Northwestern University. Her primary teachers include Elizabeth Cifani, retired Principal Harpist of the Lyric Opera, and Elizabeth Borsodi-Wolkstein of Madison, Wisconsin. She can be heard on over a dozen recordings and has appeared variously on WFMT and WBEZ radio. Attar resides in a unique conservation community outside of Chicago with her husband, their two children and a menagerie of rescued pets.