meet the composers | web special features | press kit | where to see

Helen Webby, principal harpist for the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra in New Zealand, was preparing for the 2011 concert season when a magnitude 6.3 earthquake shut down the city. With the city centre a disaster area, and all the concert halls closed, Helen made other plans -- to commission and record nine original pieces for solo harp written by some of New Zealand's foremost composers. This documentary follows Helen as she produces her album, Pluck. It is also about the importance of music in a broken city, the skill and focus required to master such diverse pieces, and the talented people she collaborates with along the way.


Filmed on location at the historic Albany Street Studios, Dunedin, New Zealand. Helen performs on a concert harp and a lever harp both built of NZ red beech by her brother Kim Webby, a lap harp built by Daniel Walker, and a wire-strung medieval harp built by Andy Rigby. More information about Helen and Pluck can be found at her website, harp.co.nz.

With thanks to Helen Webby and the Webby family, the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, Christchurch Airforce Museum, Wigram Airbase, the Whare Flat Folk Festival, The Distiller, the Audio-Visual Unit, the Department of Music and Theatre, and the Department of Media, Film and Communication at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.

Special thanks those featured: Chris Adams, Pepe Becker, Ross Carey, Lyell Cresswell, Claire Cowan, Graeme Downes, John Egenes, Fiona Farrell, Gretchen La Roche, Sean Manning, Elizabeth Nicholson, Anthony Ritchie, and Gillian Whitehead. Title from the poem The Harp Sang by Fiona Farrell.

Christchurch Symphony Orchestra was playing the New Zealand premiere of Rautavaara's 'Harp Concerto.'