Spotlight on Harpist Alix Raspé Gray
Alix Raspe’ Gray looks like she walked straight out of central casting for a Hallmark movie. She has blond flowy hair, an angelic face with a mischievous twinkle in her eye, she married the guy next door, and she plays the HARP! Even Hallmark hasn’t thought of that yet!
Alix (pronounced Ah leeks) Raspe’ Gray was a plucky child. At 5-years-old she told her parents she wanted to play the harp. Plucking the strings inside the piano was more thrilling to her than playing the keys. It wasn’t until she was 8-years-old that her parents acquiesced and thus began her lifelong relationship with her harp. Alix has an impressive list of degrees having studied at the Juilliard Pre-College program, then Harp Performance at New York University, and her Masters of Music at the New England Conservatory. She has won numerous awards for Excellence in String Performance, Leadership, and Orchestral Excellence which seems to be a common thread for many of the Caroga Lake musicians who come to share their talent with us.
Alix divides her time largely between Columbus, Ohio where she is the Associate Harpist of the Columbus Symphony and Principal Harpist of the Lima Symphony; and Massachusetts where she is the harp instructor at Phillips Academy Andover and a substitute harpist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. With a schedule that covers two states and additional performances in between, Alix discovered the need for meditation and mindfulness exercises for both her and her students at Phillips Academy. She became passionate about yoga and received her 500-hour teaching certificate from the Yoga Alliance. She has since started playing healing harp music for her yoga students during the chivasana part of her classes. On her website www.alixraspe.com she has a link to her yoga classes called Om is Where the Harp is. On the occasions when Alix is in Caroga Lake with the Caroga Lake Music Festival, she provides classes to all musicians who are interested.
But every good Hallmark story has to have romance and so does this one. Alix met her husband Erik Gray when she was in high school in 2011. Her parents had purchased a home in Dorset, Vermont where they would spend holidays. He was literally “the boy next door” or in this case, they were separated by a church where Erik’s dad was the minister. She was conducting personal interviews with college-age students for a high school psychology project and he and his two older brothers were some of her subjects. She developed a high school girl’s crush and started practicing her harp next to a big window in the front of the house hoping to get a glimpse of him jogging by on one of his runs. It wasn’t until 2015 that they actually started dating and were wed in 2019. Erik seemed to pass one of the most important boyfriend tests by being trusted to transport her harp.
Alix believes that what sets her apart from other harpists is her versatility as a musician, being a musical entrepreneur, and a mindfulness instructor. Her versatility has allowed her to play classical, jazz, and pop harp. She has performed live on The Late Late Show with James Corden and LIVE with Kelly and Ryan. She has also performed with such artists as Andrea Bocelli, Michael Bolton, Roger Daltrey and MAX. Her symphony performances include the New World Symphony, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, NY Pops, Symphony of New Hampshire, Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, Harvard Bach Society, and the Park Avenue Symphony to name a few.
Alix has been part of the Caroga Lake Music Festival family since 2012 and has been coming to the Music Festival as her time allows since.
Author: Judy Simon, July 2023
Spotlight on Comedian Alex Moffat
Alex Moffat may have been the class clown in school, but underneath his winsome smile and extremely quick wit is a serious comic honing his craft. While Alex attended Denison University and majored in communications, his heart didn’t seem to be behind the desk of an 8 to 5 job. His family called him a “Sad Sack” and suggested that he take an improv class at Second City in Chicago where he was living. The fire was lit and Alex began to see a path forward as a comedian and actor.
Much about Alex’s life has fodder for a comedy routine even though he is an intensely private person. For example, Alex’s “meet cute” with his wife had a cheesy beginning Kraft-ed by the fact that the two of them were both trying out for a part in a Velveeta commercial. (Cue the “La Dolce Velveeta Breeze” song with Alex and his now wife Caroline Rau running towards each other in slow motion.) Maybe it didn’t happen quite like that, but the Velveeta audition played an important role in their future life together. As it does when fate and karma often collide, Alex and Caroline discovered that they had grown up in houses that were back-to-back to each other and they never knew it. In fact, their mothers were in the same book club and never even tried to fix them up!
Alex and Caroline came to Caroga Lake during the COVID pandemic and decided they liked the area so much that they bought a house here. They came to a Caroga Arts Collective performance in 2022 with their young daughter and decided they would like to be a part of the Caroga Arts community. It was Alex who came up with the idea to start the first Comedy and Music Block Party at Sherman’s Park on a Sunday afternoon in June. Alex brought a couple of his friends, and they did some standup and improv comedy for a thoroughly entertained crowd. We’re hoping that he will want to make it an annual event.
Alex left the cast of SNL (Saturday Night Live) in 2023 after six seasons with the show, but don’t expect to see him around Caroga Lake or dining in the Pleasant Lake Inn much this summer. He is now in rehearsal for his first role on Broadway as Clarke in the comedy The Cottage that is directed by Jason Alexander. It runs from July 7 – October 29.
Author: Judy Simon, July 2023