Dr. George Orthey In Memoriam (1932-2020)

For those of you who haven’t heard, I must acknowledge some sad news – the passing of Festival Founder George Orthey on August 18, 2020.

Even before the public festival began, George and his wife Mary Lou hosted several gatherings on their Newport farm for owners of his Dulci-Harps. Then they made the decision to open their farm, and their home, to anyone who was an autoharp enthusiast. They initiated the Mountain Laurel Autoharp Gathering and the accompanying Championship in 1991. The festival was a monumental annual undertaking for them and the small group who supported their efforts in making the Gathering possible, and each year it only improved under their leadership. When they turned the Gathering over to a Board of Directors in 2001, it was a thriving, healthy enterprise that gave the Board a firm foundation to continue presenting the oldest and largest festival dedicated to the autoharp. The gratitude that MLAG collectively has for George and Mary Lou’s efforts cannot be overstated.

George also organized the Mini-Mountain Laurel Concert Series, which brought notable performers to Newport and nearby Lewistown for many years during the fall, winter, and spring. I’m sure many of you attended or performed at those concerts. And I cannot even imagine how many of you must own and play George’s autoharps and mountain dulcimers, which he built from 1964 up until just last year.

George’s full obituary can be found here.

When we can all be together again, we will certainly properly remember George as a group. Until then, please ponder his contributions to our community, and remember his sons, Scott and George III, and their families.

Warmest regards,
Kathie Hollandsworth
Festival Director

Here’s a photo tribute to George …

Muriel Powers

On February 21, 2020, Muriel Powers passed away after a two  year-long fight against lung cancer. She died at home, “Surrounded by  Love“.

Muriel’s style of playing the autoharp  has been described as intense, or dream-like, depending on the song, but  always passionate. She took great pride in demonstrating how many  different genres of music could be played on the  instrument. Other harpists say they were inspired not only by how she played, but what she played. By doing so, she exposed other musicians to various methods to freely explore ways to “play outside the box”.


Muriel Powers was a gem of the Northwest, as a player and an organizer, as a recording artist and as a gentle spirit. She was comfortable playing full-blown rock ‘n roll as she was with meditative music. Muriel recorded as a soloist with a Celtic group in her hometown of Port Townsend, WA, and on a CD of her own compositions very much in a meditative groove. She worked in the field of healing bedside music and played at several festivals, as well as writing the column “Music And Healing” for the Autoharp Quarterly. After a long battle with cancer, Muriel wanted to donate to her favorite charity, the Autoharp Angels.
We will miss her, yet she will live on through her music and wonderful memories. Should anyone wish to donate to Autoharp Angels in memory of Muriel, you may do that by clicking on the donate button at the bottom of this page … please indicate that you’d like the donation to go to the Autoharp Angels when asked if there are any special instructions to the seller.