WAKE FOREST — Jasmine Hogan was just seven years old when she stumbled across a beautiful illustration of a harp and decided it was the instrument for her.
“It was kind of mysterious. I’d never seen one, and I’d never heard one,” she said.
She told her parents how much she loved the harp and asked to learn how to play. They replied that if she started piano lessons and stuck with them for a full year, they would consider it.
As soon as the year was up, Hogan went back to her parents, full of expectation.
“Well?” she asked, not having forgotten their pledge.
Since then, Hogan, 23, has devoted years to perfecting her art, earned two degrees in music from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University and traveled the world as a performer.
On Saturday, she returns to Wake Forest for a Rotary Club charity concert that she hopes will serve as a thank you to the people who encouraged her with scholarships and recommendations.
“It’s really exciting for me to come back and see these people who have helped me with my musical career,” she said.
The concert will feature a mix of folk music from around the world as well as traditional pieces for harp. Hogan said she likes to use folks song that people may recognize as a way to connect with an audience that may not be familiar with classical music.
Robert Christesen, a former opera singer and member of the Rotary Club, was among those who noticed Hogan’s talent early on as she played at parties and other events to help pay for her lessons.
“I thought she had really something special to offer though her musicianship,” he said. “She has a very good feeling for her audience.”
Hogan, who was home-schooled while studying harp, piano and organ, left for Peabody at 16. After graduating with her bachelor of music degree in harp, she studied traditional Chinese music on a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship.
Hogan earned a master’s degree in performance and pedagogy at Peabody this May and has been accepted into the school’s artist diploma program.
As a student, Hogan said she’s been able to nurture her love of both teaching and performance.
With a group of fellow students she founded HarpAdventures, a program that brings harp education to students in Baltimore schools.
Teaching is a kind of performance itself, said Hogan. She’s always searching for ways to keep her students engaged, and she enjoys performing alongside them.
Hogan said she’s always careful to to take her students’ interest and commitment to the harp seriously. They may be young, but she knows well what can become of a child’s interest in the harp.
“I think of my students as harpists already,” she said. “They’re not just kids playing harp.”
Barr: 919-836-4952; Twitter: @barrmsarah