Helen Webby

Born in Whangarei, Helen Webby began playing the harp as a teenager, travelling to Auckland for lessons with composer/harpist Dorothea Franchi. In 1989 she completed a Bachelor of Music in performance at the University of Auckland with tutor Rebecca Harris. Postgraduate study followed with Edward Witsenburg at the Royal Conservatory of the Hague, Holland, and with Maria Graf at the Hochschule for Music in Hamburg, Germany, where Helen graduated in 1996 with a Masters degree in Harp and Music Teaching.

During her studies in Europe Helen won numerous awards, including the DAAD Scholarship (German Academic Exchange Service), the Dutch Government Scholarship, the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council Grant and the Alex Lindsay Memorial Trust Prize (NZSO). In 1990 she performed at the IV World Harp Congress in Paris, and was a prizewinner in the International Carolan Harp Competition in Ireland (celtic harp). While based in Germany, Helen played throughout Europe as a chamber and orchestral musician. Concert highlights include performing in the Philharmonie Berlin with the contemporary music ensemble Work in Progress Berlin, and at the Schleswig Holstein Festival with her German chamber music Ensemble Obligat.

In the orchestral field, Helen performed with the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra and other opera orchestras in northern Germany, including Phantom of the Opera Hamburg. In 1996 she appeared as Acting Principal Harp of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, and in 2000 returned to New Zealand to take up the position of Principal Harp with the Christchurch Symphony.

Helen's solo recitals and concerto performances with the Christchurch Symphony have been warmly received, the critics describing her as "intensely musical, stylish and absorbing". She is an enthusiastic and active chamber musician and toured the length of the country in 1999 for Chamber Music New Zealand with the Giverny Trio (Flute, Viola, Harp). CD recordings include a disc with her German ensemble Obligat (Flute, Harp and String Trio) featuring works by Scarlatti, Mozart, Schubert and Debussy.

In addition to this Helen is a dedicated and inspirational teacher in and around Christchurch.