Chelsea Spence- Central Alumni Spotlight: Chelsea Spence ’09Image of

Alumni Spotlight: Chelsea Spence ’09

Chelsea Spence Master’s in Music ‘09 


Any ensembles/bands you participated in?
Harp Ensemble

The music building on the Oval or UCA?
I had classes in both, but I loved being in the UCA!

Favorite spot to practice, perform?
I thought the new organ recital hall in the UCA was beautiful, and appreciated having recitals that were train whistle free…

Favorite professor? 
Rachel Starr-Ellins, harp professor

Favorite performance with ensemble, band or solo?
I loved performing with the harp ensemble, but my master’s recital was the highlight of my career at CSU.

Favorite or least favorite class?
Harp lessons were always my favorite, but I also really enjoyed Greg Kenyon’s methods of music therapy research class. It was amazing learning about and replicating the research that has been going on at CSU.

What brought you to Colorado State University? Why did you choose CSU’s Department of Music, Theatre and Dance for your school?

I chose Colorado State University for grad school for the Music Therapy program, but after studying with Rachel Ellins, and continuing my harp education, I realized that my heart was really in performing and teaching, and switched to performance.

What is your fondest memory of the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance at CSU?

I don’t have one memory in particular that I wish to share, but overall, was thrilled to have other harpists to play and share with. I loved the camaraderie and enthusiasm that everyone shared in the harp department.

Tell us about your senior recital, juries or thesis

My master’s recital was fabulous. I had so much fun choosing the repertoire for my recital and researching the compositions and composers. My recital included transcriptions of lute music, classical and romantic compositions and even a set of contemporary Latin dances accompanied by James on percussion. Rachel Ellins also joined me on two duets.

Please share what you are doing now- music or non-music related. Explain how music influences your life or profession.

I am now living in Eastern Washington, teaching private harp lessons and also as an assistant professor of harp at Walla Walla University. In addition to teaching, I am the principal harpist with the Mid-Columbia Symphony in Richland, WA, play regularly with the Walla Walla Symphony, as well as freelancing around the area.

What did you take away from the music program that you use in your daily or professional life?

I learned how important it is to be a well-rounded musician. In addition to knowing your music theory and history, it has helped me in my teaching and performing to have a better understanding of how music can affect our brains. Studying music therapy has given me a different way of looking at music and, I believe, has greatly improved me as a musician and music educator.

You can find Chelsea at:

If you would like to tell your story contact Marilyn Bistline at or by phone at 970-491-4030