Meet Kayo Ishimaru

Kayo Ishimaru and her husband, Dickie Fleisher, met over a harp. Both were studying harp at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique de Paris when they met. Fleisher didn’t speak Japanese or French. Kayo didn’t speak English. “He probably thought I was very quiet because I didn’t understand,” she said.

Ishimaru studied English and Fleisher invited her to join him in Miami. From there, she auditioned for the Jacksonville Symphony in 1987 and joined the orchestra.

She actually started in music by playing the piano but her hands were too small to be good at it. Ironically playing the harp is very physically demanding, much more so than the piano. “In addition to the strings there are seven pedals that change the pitch,” she explained. And, of course, there is moving the harp.

Ishimaru and Fleisher own over 100 harps and own a business, Budget Harps, that rents and repairs harps. Their personal collection features seven harps including the one featured in the photograph. It was found in a Chicago antique store. Chicago is a second home for her in that during the summer months she performs with the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra.

So what do two harpists who own 100 harps do for fun, they raise two German shepherds and continue searching the world for more harp.