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Craig Harrel: Bio

Craig Harrel is the celebrated winner of the 2008 International Autoharp Championship (Winfield) as well as the 2008 Mountain Laurel Autoharp Championship (i.e. the two most prestigious autoharp contests in the world). By winning both competitions in the same calendar year, he became only the third person to ever accomplish such a challenging feat.

Craig’s musical experiences began at an early age . . . singing in his church, taking piano lessons, and listening to classic rock & roll (primarily the Beatles). Growing up, he was also a member of The Singing Boys of Houston (TX) – now known as the Houston Boychoir – where, at the age of 12, he performed with the Houston Symphony Orchestra. He also played clarinet and alto clarinet as a teenager in Oak Ridge, TN.

When Craig first began playing the autoharp, he was fortunate enough to receive world-class instruction, early on, from Charles Whitmer (member of the Autoharp Hall of Fame) – and later Lucille Reilly (a former Winfield and Mountain Laurel champion, herself). Craig credits these two autoharp legends with contributing the most to his development as a musician.

Craig has been an autoharp instructor himself at the Mountain Laurel Autoharp Gathering in Newport, PA; the Walnut Valley Festival’s “Autoharp Junction” in Winfield, KS; the North Harris County Dulcimer Society in Houston, TX; the Palestine Old Time Music & Dulcimer Festival in Palestine, TX; and the Bayou City Old Time Music & Dulcimer Festival in Houston, TX.