It all started in Chicago. As a child, Yolanda Kondonassis and her family visited the Windy City. During the trip, her mother, a piano instructor, brought the family to the Lyon & Healy showroom, which was at that time sort of a "music department store," Kondonassis recalls. "Because it was Valentine's Day... they had a very kind of 'dream love' display... with a dozen hearts and harps... We were just kind of mesmerized by that, and I guess it was the first time it occurred to us that one can play the harp."
Onstage at the Grant Park Music Festival, Kondonassis and WFMT host Michael San Gabino spoke about the importance of Chicago in her career, as well as her commitment to enriching and expanding the harp's repertoire. One such example is a commissioned harp concerto composed by Jennifer Higdon for Kondonassis, which appears on the artist's newly-released album, American Rapture. With the Grant Park Festival Orchestra warming up in the background, Yolanda Kondonassis also recounts what she's learned performing Ginastera's Harp Concerto — a piece that, by her count, she's performed over 200 times.