Biography

Nella Rigell has enjoyed an active career as an orchestral harpist, chamber musician, recording artist, and teacher, performing in concert halls from Carnegie Hall to the Grand Ole Opry. As principal harpist with the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra for twenty-seven years, her orchestral experience also includes having played second harp with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and principal harp with the Atlanta Opera Orchestra for eleven years.

Winner of the 1979 Atlanta Chamber Orchestra Concerto Competition, Ms. Rigell has performed with such diverse orchestras as the Chattanooga, Savannah, Dekalb, and Cobb Symphony Orchestras, Spoleto Festival, Atlanta Lyric Theatre, Johns Creek Symphony Orchestra, Gwinnett Philharmonic, Mississippi Symphony, Atlanta Pops Orchestra, Georgia Sinfonia, Agnes Scott Orchestra, the North Georgia Symphony, as well as other regional orchestras.

Ms. Rigell regularly performs with touring Broadway show orchestras, playing dozens of shows through the years, including Phantom of the Opera, Beauty and the Beast, My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, Camelot, Evita, A Chorus Line, Peter Pan, The King and I, and The Producers.


photograph by Charles Lyon


She has also been active as a concerto soloist with orchestras throughout the Southeast, performing the works of Handel, Mozart, Debussy, Ravel, Reinecke, and Zaerr. Critics have praised her performances as having “provided expressive delivery and superior technique,” (The Huntsville Times) “played with clarity and sweetness,” (The Atlanta Journal Constitution) and “harpist Nella Rigell held a large chamber concert audience in her spell” (Mississippi Business Journal).

Ms. Rigell has appeared with numerous chamber music groups, including the Atlanta Chamber Players, Atlanta Symphony Brass Quintet, Thamyris, Musica da Camera, and the Atlanta Virtuosi. As a member of the flute and harp duo, Kokopelli, she presented concerts throughout the Southeast. She has twice been featured on television on Georgia Public Broadcasting, playing the concert grand and Celtic harps, and numerous times on WABE radio.

As a recording artist, she has recorded Benjamin Brittan’s Ceremony of Carols, John Rutter’s Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day, and Classical Surroundings chamber music. As part of the orchestra, she has recorded Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite with the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and Brahm’s Nänie with the Atlanta Symphony. Nella has played on recordings for numerous artists, including Berry Gordy, Kelly Price, and Curtis Mayfield.

In concert, Ms. Rigell has backed a wide variety of artists, including Celine Dion, Stevie Wonder, Yanni, and Josh Groban and has toured with Johnny Mathis.

Among the dignitaries she has had the honor of playing for are President Jimmy Carter, Coretta Scott King, Princess Anne of England, and Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Ms. Rigell has a great love of Celtic music and in 2002, had the privilege of performing the Southeastern premier of the Celtic Harp Concerto with the Dekalb Symphony. In 2003, she was honored to join the Chieftains in concert as a tribute to the memory of their long time harper, Derek Bell. Of this performance, Jig Time International wrote, “Nella Rigell from Atlanta gave a very moving performance.” She was also featured on the Celtic Woman DVD, "Believe". Ms. Rigell maintains an active performing schedule in the group “Celtic Fire”, which includes the uillean pipes, Irish tin whistles, flute, fiddle and voice.

As a teacher, Ms. Rigell was an artist affiliate with Agnes Scott College for more than twenty years and continues to maintain an active private studio. Her students have been members of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra, Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestra, Georgia Youth Symphony Orchestra, and All State Orchestra, including some who have been featured as concerto soloists. She has also served as a past president of the Georgia Chapter of the American Harp Society.

The role of music in healing has long been of great interest to Ms. Rigell. As a certified music practitioner with the Music for Healing and Transition Program, she regularly plays at Emory Hospital in Atlanta and for hospice.

Ms. Rigell studied with Alice Chalifoux at the Cleveland Institute of Music in Cleveland, Ohio and the Salzedo Harp School in Camden, Maine.



Contact Nella

phone: 404 378-4923.
email: nrigell@gmail.com


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header photograph by Charles Lyon