Tasha Smith Godinez is a lifelong musician. She began her musical studies as a child with both the violin and harp and has continued to dedicate her life to making music ever since. Tasha has studied the harp internationally acclaimed performers and instructors including Isabelle Perrin, Elena Mashkovtseva and Susan Allen.
She holds performance degrees from both San Diego State University (Bachelor's 2005, Master's 2010) and l'Ecole Normale de Musique Alfred Corot in Paris, France (2006). Ms. Smith Godinez has held the position of principal harpist for both the Orquesta de Baja California (Tijuana, Mexico) and the Grossmont Symphony Orchestra (San Diego, California) as well as a handful of appearances with the San Diego Symphony.
Outside of her work as a classical musician, Tasha is passionate about jazz and world music. She brings to this music a blend of the many musical influences and abilities creating an interesting and well-rounded playing style. She performs regularly with percussionist, Christopher Garcia as Music Beyond Borders, pianist Reggy Woods, the NiTaNa Trio, violist/guitarist Domenico Hueso , trumpeter Steph Richards and vocalist Leonard Patton. Recent venues include Dizzy’s Jazz Club (San Diego), The Jazz Lounge (San Diego), The Clockshop (Los Angeles), El Lugar de Nopal (Tijuana, MX).
A champion for contemporary harp music, Tasha is continuously commissioning and searching for willing and talented composers. She is passionate about breaking the perceived boundaries of her instrument and creating new sound while augmenting the repertoire for the harp.
Ms. Smith Godinez is the founder of ENNANGA Records and Publishing. Her published discography on the Ennanga label include solo albums, Postcards from the Soul (2014) and HarpCHICK (2020). She has also released a recording of Michael Byron's solo harp work, In the Village of Hope, on the Cold Blue record label (2015) and a new album of avant-garde music, Metamorphoses, on Centaur Records (2022). Her most recent project, Out of the Desert, is an album of her own compositions blending jazz, classical and world styles to form her own unique sound. It is available on ENNANGA Records as of June 10, 2022.
Tasha teaches harp lessons in San Diego, CA where she is Professor of Harp at the University of San Diego (USD) and also directs the San Diego Harp Academy. At her studio, located in La Mesa, she accepts students of all ages and musical abilities. No prior musical experience is required!
An over-abundance of Piazzolla gives way to a disc of rarely heard American works in a self-produced disc by the very talented Tasha Smith Godinez and friends.
Ah, and what a breath of fresh air! While she makes her living the old fashioned way—teaching, playing gigs, teaching and more playing of gigs—her passion is new music. And this passion is our gain.
I was mesmerized by the first piece, Postales del Alma, for which the CD gets its name, translated in English to Postcards from the Soul. Ironically it is written by another Argentine composer, Andres Martin. Martin, who lives in Mexico now, began a collaboration with Godinez when she discovered his unique ability to make the harp sound rich and luxurious. In her position as president of the San Diego chapter of the American Harp Society, she successfully raised funds to commission this new work and also premiere it. Martin plays bass in the Baja California Orchestra and has a special feel for what happens when you allow the strings to ring and create overtones. In addition, neither musician is afraid to shock us with the rattling of strings as pedals change, a wake-up call of sorts that gives dimension and muscle to an instrument we are only hearing through speakers. It’s magical.
Postcards of passion, sadness, and fury lead to At Dusk in Arthur Foote’s genial miniature. Cellist Omar Firestone plays with a luscious tone matched by the light and rhapsodic flute played by Leopoldo Gonzalez.
Expressive and unafraid to take dynamics all the way, Paul Creston’s Olympia is sumptuously self-indulgent in its cascading arpeggios. Godinez makes it sound as fun to hear as it must be to play. I would imagine a piece like this is why someone would want to play the harp in the first place, to just get all over the strings. She plays with confidence and joy.
Since Vivaldi’s La tempesta di mare and Debussy’s La Mer, composers have attempted to harness the power of the sea in all its vastness, colors, and changing moods. Gardner Read’s Sea-Scapes is capricious and mysterious; we hear bubbles rising from the ocean floor, distant murmurings of creatures from great depths, and the quiet serenity of another universe sharing our world. Godinez lingers and savors each moment. I can’t help but think of the late free diver Natalia Molchanova who spoke of the allure of being underwater. “When we go down, if we don’t think, we understand we are whole.”
Lou Harrison’s Suite for Cello and Harp is simple, repetitive, and meditative with an air of primitive music. It’s a perfect cap to a beautifully recorded CD of well-chosen repertoire.
Postcards from the Soul, Tasha Smith Godinez, Leopoldo Gonzalez and Omar Firestone
"Tasha made our wedding event a perfect musical experience. She was prompt, always ready to accommodate our guests and their requests, and best of all her harp playing sounded awesome. Tasha helped set the tone for 2 events during the wedding in a way that no amount of decorating, speeches or special touches could not. Having music from a harp at a wedding is exciting and creates a wonderful one-of-a-kind experience. Thanks again Tasha for your professionalism and talent."
"Christopher Garcia has been a great friend of KPFK’s Global Village because he plays the most extraordinary music on the most extraordinary instruments with the most extraordinary musicians and today is absolutely no exception.....Tasha Smith Godinez is on harp and violin today, although she plays all sorts of other instruments too and the music …...... is exquisite"
"Working with Tasha Smith Godinez and introducing her beautiful music to our corporate and social clients is a privilege and a joy. Her amazing talent speaks for itself. She is professional, kind and easy to work with - every event with Tasha is a success".
"The copious notes pouring from the harp felt like raindrops falling on the leaves of a deep forest. Full of motion, yet always restful and serene, this piece evokes a distinctly exotic sensibility. The several key changes were very effective and provided a sense of renewal to the listener’s ear as the piece progressed. Ms. Godínez might have been expected to be quickly exhausted by the complexity and quantity of notes, but her hands were a model of economy in movement. The playing was impressively expressive and the acoustics of the space did not detract from the delicate texture of this piece. In the Village of Hope coasted to an elegant conclusion, providing another transcendent experience of the evening."
"My sister, who is on the Board of a symphony, hired Tasha to play at our wedding as a gift. After speaking with Tasha and hearing examples of what she can do, we asked if she would play not just for the ceremony but also the dinner and cocktail hour during our wedding. I have nothing to say other than that she was Fantastic! She was professional, sounded great, worked great with our DJ and minister, and was so easy to work with. She met with us in advance and we generally discussed what we wanted for music, of course picking out specifics for the ceremony. Again, she was very helpful by providing suggestions and helping us select the music we wanted. She played a mixture of popular music and classical as we requested and it all sounded beautiful. The harp added such a sophisticated yet delicate air to the ceremony and she played it beautifully. I had many people compliment us about Tasha's playing and one of our guests was inspired to take harp lessons based on her playing. I can't recommend Tasha strongly enough!"
"This was recorded over the course of two days, and I defy you to identify where the edits are, because this is seamless music. I suspect that the amazing Tasha Smith Godínez has a vertical slot in her back where a key goes in. One associates the harp with angelic matters, and while In the Village of Hopedoesn't confound that association, this is a heaven that is far from being regular and predictable, and where one is ruled not by immutable Bible truths but by the constant fluctuations of the natural world. This is very pretty listening, and, as such, recommendable."
"Tasha is a first class musician possessing rich techniques coupled with wide and deep musical expressions. It is with utmost pleasure to watch and listen to her playing. She is also an excellent teacher for young and elder students. She teaches techniques and musicality with simple yet precise instructions making it easy for students to understand and improve."
"Godinez followed with Andres Martin's "Postales del Alma," a composition for solo harp that found beauty in the progression of grief. Harmonically complex and melodically romantic, it hurt and soothed in the same breath, as Godinez augmented her instrument's wide tonal palette with heart-tugging effects such as a ribbon drawn across a string or an overtone conjured with quick hand muting. It was like a grand old Hollywood drama without the corn."
"In the Village of Hope is an attractive but ultimately rather exhausting piece for solo harp that manages to sound harmonically static while changing keys seven times–I’m still not sure how the composer did that. The playing is exemplary." CD Hotlist
"Harpist Tasha Smith Godinez chose two recent but rather conventional virtuoso works for her solo recital at the Carlsbad Inn’s Village Terrace, two blocks south of the St. Michael’s campus, but blessedly air conditioned and insulated from the traffic noise on Carlsbad Boulevard. Michael Byron’s 2013 “In the Village of Hope,” written for the performer, struck me as another extended mediation, a minimalist cloud of constant arpeggiation from which modal themes occasionally surfaced, not unlike migrating pods of whales in whale-watching season.
The three contrasting movements of Argentine composer Andres Martin’s “Postales del Alma” offered welcome drama after the Byron, especially the furious final movement with its vigorous rhythms and wild pounding of the lower harp strings with the flat of the hand, an effect called “thunder,” according to the harpist. Martin’s agitated opening movement contrasted agreeably with the poignant dolor of the middle movement. Smith Godinez’s graceful, polished performance of both works made a strong case for her choices."
"Ms. Godinez has guided my daughter in her journey on the harp since day one, and we cannot be happier with her teaching methods and our experience. Ms. Godinez’s passion towards music and her love of teaching students are apparent in every lesson. She is very enthusiastic, setting high standards of musicality for her students, and guiding them toward the goal step by step with precise instruction and abundant encouragement. My daughter has a reserved personality and is very soft spoken, and would easily be crushed with a “strict” teacher. The magic of Ms. Godinez is in her ability to motivate the student through her cheerful and approachable personality while not compromising high musical expectations. She really makes the student work at their music, but gives them specific directions in each step so as not to make the process frustrating. And at the end the student can experience the satisfaction of seeing/hearing their improvement and progress! My daughter enjoys her lessons with Ms. Godinez and looks forward to them every week. We are very fortunate to have Ms. Godinez as our harp teacher, she is the best!"
The world premiere of In the Village of Hope (2013), by Michael Byron was next, performed by harpist Tasha Smith Godínez, who commissioned the work. This is an ambitious piece, full of constant motion but with an engaging and exotic character. It has a soft, Asian feel and the steady patter of notes fall like raindrops in a warm tropical shower. A light melody in the upper registers is joined in masterful counterpoint below, and the piece glides delicately through several key changes as it continuously unfolds. Listening to the Cold Blue recording of this piece one imagines that the harpist would be a great flurry of motion – but the technique of Tasha Smith Godínez in this performance was superb; her graceful fingers never seemed hurried or her movements labored. The tones from her harp were clear and strong; the lively acoustics of Monk Space made them almost seem amplified. A drier acoustic environment might have served to bring out the intricate texture more clearly. Michael Byron, who was in attendance, admitted to a certain trepidation when he turned in the imposing score, but Ms.Godínez never asked for any changes or modifications and proved more than equal to the task in this performance. In the Village of Hope is a profoundly impressive work, in both its vision and realization. Sequenza21