Generous Funding Brings Historic Harp Back to DeKalb

This particular harp is gilded in gold and was completely refurbished in 2015. “It was a challenge to find tradesmen who could repair the gold,” says Mrs. Felder.

Mrs. Sheila Felder, orchestra director at DeKalb High School and Clinton Rosette Middle School, was offered a very special opportunity to bring a piece of DeKalb’s music history back to its birthplace.

“Thanks to the generous financial help once again of the DeKalb Music Boosters, we were able to complete the purchase of the Starke Model Wurlitzer Harp #688, that was made in DeKalb in 1910,” says Felder. “We are very pleased to bring this harp back to DeKalb 111 years later, now to benefit the student musicians of DeKalb School District #428.”

For this instrument acquisition, Felder received grant funding through the DeKalb County Community Foundation, among other funding sources, before approaching the DeKalb Music Boosters for the rest of the funds needed.

“We were thrilled to help Mrs. Felder bring this gorgeous instrument back home to DeKalb, to the fortunate students who will benefit from playing it,” says Tamara Farrell, DeKalb Music Boosters president. “How exciting for our community to see and hear this harp being played by our young musicians. Mrs. Felder has such a resourceful spirit and is always seeking out new opportunities for her students and ways to make them a reality.”

The Wurlitzer Company hired Emil Starke to design and make harps. His model of harp was so creative, much sturdier than European harps, and had much better action, that it has been the model used for all concert grand harps made in the United States since. Starke only made harps for around 10–15 years. The normal price today for a Starke harp is around $20,000–$25,000.

The DeKalb Music Boosters will be participating in the upcoming Give DeKalb County community giving event on Thursday, May 6.  Visit to view the DeKalb Music Boosters’ giving profile to learn how your donations can help our school district’s music programs.

For more information about how you can support local music students through the DeKalb Music Boosters, email

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