Music 05

Harper Tasche Jordan

March 29, 1961 ~ March 6, 2023 (age 61) 61 Years Old

Harper Jordan Obituary

Harper Tasche Jordan, 61, died quietly at his home in Kent, Washington on the morning of March 6, 2023.

Tasche Mark Daniel Jordan was born March 29, 1961 in Chehalis, Washington, the younger of Paul and Frieda Jordan’s two children. Growing up in rural Petersburg, Alaska influenced his lifelong passions for music and nature (he composed and recorded a soundtrack for the U.S. Forest Service at age 13). Though a serious musician, he also delighted in playing practical jokes on his sister, Ruth, who did not hesitate to return the favor.

Harper graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Music degree from Pacific Lutheran University in 1982.  He spent three years on staff at Holden Village, composing for worship services and sharing his legendary baking skills.  After returning to university for graduate work in religion, folklore, and counseling psychology, he chanced to meet his first harp.

Able to play multiple instruments since his teens, he would later say that once he picked up his first small harp, he knew he had found his musical destiny. As “Harper Tasche”, he released his first solo album, Open to the North, in 1993.  He recorded twelve more over the next two decades.   Harper toured, taught, and published music books for harp, including the definitive modern text on cross-strung harp.  A founding member of the Puget Sound Folk Harp Society, he served as President and Festival co-director for many years.

Harper enjoyed a unique and prominent place in the folk harp world, as an award-winning performer and composer, recording artist, teacher, and author. He was widely considered the leading proponent of the cross-strung and small folk harps, and was best known for his intensely expressive original music and innovative arrangements of historical and traditional European, Celtic, and Scandinavian music. 

Harper regularly delighted and inspired audiences, harp players, and harp builders throughout the world. Often described as "lyrical", "magical", and "transcendent", his music was enthusiastically reviewed by harp industry publications.  Harper's work won several international awards, most notably at the Mòd Vancouver Scottish Gaelic Music Festival (Canada), the Lyon & Healy International Pop & Jazz HarpFest (Monterey, California), and at the invitation-only O’Carolan International Harp Festival (Keadue, Ireland). 

In 2003, Harper met Neil McNeill; it was love at first hug.  The two married in Seattle in 2013, finding their dream home three years later in Kent, nestled among dozens of magnificent Western red cedars, which Harper fondly called their "tiny forest of giant trees".

Following a cancer diagnosis in 2021, Harper continued to teach until a month before his death. As his caregiver, Neil was by his side when Harper quietly crossed over just after sunrise, surrounded by love, his harps, and the trees he considered his church.

Harper was preceded in death by his parents, Paul and Frieda Jordan, who died in 2015. He is survived by his husband of twenty years, Neil McNeill; his older sister Ruth Culbertson, her husband Richard, and their son, Brian; extended family, and his many friends and colleagues.  He will be remembered through his gentle wisdom, exceptional wit, beautiful silver hair, and, of course, his timeless musical legacy.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Harper's name to Holden Village.

A public memorial for Harper will be held at a date to be announced.

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