Two concerts by amazing soloists coming to Coffs Harbour

Louise Johnson with one of her seven harps. Photo: Coffs Harbour Music Society.

ONE of Australia’s leading harpists will present a magical musical performance, ‘A Journey of Harps’, at St John Paul College Theatre on Friday, April 5.

A solo harp concert is unusual, but Louise Johnson will bring seven harps, ranging from a green, Irish harp to a brilliant blue electric harp as well as a medieval harp and her superb concert harp.

Not only do the harps each have different sounds, but Ms Johnson will present an eclectic repertoire from medieval to modern, classical to jazz and acoustic to electric.

Ms Johnson makes each instrument sing with its own distinctive nuance and colour, creating a magical world of sound.

Highlights of her program include the ‘Hurrian Hymn No 6’ from Syria, dated from around 1400BCE – the oldest known harp melody.

Other works include ‘Richard the Lionheart’, Handel, traditional Irish and Paraguayan works, a piece by Billie Eilish and Ms Johnson’s own improvisations.

Louise began her harp studies at the Sydney Conservatorium High School before graduating to the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Salzedo Summer Harp Colony.

She gave her first performance with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at age fourteen and began her professional career at fifteen as a soloist and chamber musician, later joining the orchestra as principal harp in 1985.

Other positions include principal harp of the Queensland Symphony, guest principal of the London Symphony, guest principal of all the major Australian symphony and opera and ballet orchestras, the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the Australia Ensemble as well as tours with well-known global orchestras

Ms Johnson has taught harp both privately and at the Sydney Conservatorium for more than 45 years and has backed artists such as Cher, Sammy Davis Jnr, Peter Allen and the Bee Gees.

She has played on radio and television broadcasts around the world, given recitals and was a regular solo artist on the Mike Walsh Show, the Ray Martin Show and appeared on The Two Ronnies.

There will be a free pre-concert talk by Coffs Harbour Music Society vice-president Robert Smallwood at 6.30pm and the concert will begin at 7.30pm.

The Coffs Harbour Music Society will present a second concert in April by composer pianist Elena Kats-Chernin.

This will be one of the musical highlights of the year and tickets are selling fast.

As one of Australia’s foremost contemporary composers, Ms Kats-Chernin’s vibrant and distinctive music across all genres has reached millions worldwide, featuring at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, the 2003 Rugby World Cup and the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, she has received numerous prizes, has written for ballet, opera and theatre and has had works performed by major orchestras in Australia and abroad.

Her opera, ‘Whitely’, written for Opera Australia (with libretto by Justin Fleming) on the life of iconic Australian artist Brett Whiteley, was nominated in the 2020 International Opera Awards for ‘Best new opera’.

Tickets are $60 ($55 concession) or $15 for students/children and a special family package of two children free with two adults.

It is also still possible to buy subscriptions at a discount for three or more concerts.

The Society’s new venue has ample level parking and there will be a bar and snacks available.

For more information phone 0466 985 652, email, or visit

The St John Paul College Theatre is on Hogbin Drive, Coffs Harbour.

By Andrew VIVIAN

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