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Rachel Nolan, harpist

Skills & Services

Rachel Nolan Harpist

My skills and experience include:

  • original arrangements/adaptations in many diverse music styles

  • extensive experience with orchestral repertoire

  • extensive solo harp repertoire, classical and contemporary

  • work with choirs

  • sightreading

  • improvisation

  • pedal harp and lever harp

Schedule permitting, I am available for:

  • orchestra, chamber, band or other ensemble work

  • recitals/concerts, solo & duet

  • weddings, events/receptions, fundraisers, solo & duet

  • session work

  • consultation

Please contact me to determine availability.



 Although I now work primarily as a therapist, it's important to me to be a harpist, and so I keep this work alive in my life. Please see my FAQ and Skills and Services sections to learn more about what I can offer as a harpist.

I have had the wildly fortunate experiences of, to name a few:

  • studying with Marie Lorcini, pupil of Marcel Grandjany, for about 15 years

  • studying briefly with Jennifer Swartz (pupil of Judy Loman) on a full scholarship at McGill University

  • performing as a soloist on two occasions with the McMaster Chamber Orchestra, presenting Handel's Harp Concerto in B-flat and the Canadian Premiere of David Van Vactor's concerto for harp and three flutes

  • featuring in works for harp and choir with the McMaster Women's Choir

  • performing Britten's Ceremony of  Carols with the All Saints Kingsway Choir under Brainerd Blyden-Taylor

  • appearing as a featured performer in Hamilton music ventures:

    • Cinquefoil

    • the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra's Indie Series (with Hanna Bech)

    • Symphony Hamilton/Symphony On The Bay

    • The National Academy Orchestra/the Brott Music Festival

    • the Ancaster Symphony

  • featuring with local Hamilton rockstars:

    • Adam Carter (The Human Race)

    • Teal Booth

    • Tarek Ajak (Mother Tareka and the Rebel Funktion)

    • Lee Reed 

    • the Hamilton Aerial Group

    • What the Folk

  • performing at fundraisers and solidarity events for the Hamilton queer community, encampment support, prisoner solidarity, Indigenous solidarity, Food Not Bombs, the Immigrant Working Centre and more

  • performing as The Vagabond Duet, a harp/cello performance ensemble

  • Over 20 years playing at weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and memorials on some of the most important days of people's lives, both loved ones and strangers. I am honoured by these wonderful experiences.

Right now I keep a steady calendar of ensemble work and special events, and most of my musicking involves learning to play songs for the octogenarian and above crowd on my smallest harp, as part of my work as a music therapist. I also visit the worlds of pedal harp solo repertoire, chamber music, orchestral works, alternative rock covers, personal improvisation and songwriting, now and then.

To learn more about my current services, please see my FAQ.

to ask questions or find out more, please feel free to contact me.

rachel nolan music therapist
rachel nolan music therapist

Looking for my music therapy or psychotherapy services?



Rachel Nolan Harpist

Contact me for more specific questions!

Q. How long have you been playing/how many weddings have you played?

A. A long time, lots! Probably a good few hundred weddings. I've been playing for over 30 years, and have worked professionally as a harpist since around 2004.

Q What are the differences between your harps? Do you have a favourite?

A. The pedal harp can play complicated, chromatic music - it has more strings, and can do sharps and flats, which means it can play more elaborate music. It's also somewhat louder. The small lever harp has a bright, clear sound, fewer strings than the pedal harp. I can play it standing up. I also have a lovely celtic-style harp that sits on the ground (pictured). I love them all equally and differently.

Q. Do you use amplification?

A. Not usually.  Both harps I typically use for performance have decent sound projection as long as the space isn't too huge, the acoustics aren't terrible, and there's not too much other noise. For instance, a small outdoor wedding will not require amplification. A performance in a silent church probably will not require amplification. A background-music performance in a small space will not require amplification. A background-music performance in a hall full of people might require amplification. A collaboration with a full, miked band will definitely require amplification. When necessary, I can provide my own.

Q. What are your fees?

A. They vary. Contact me about your event for current fees and availability!

Q. Do you offer donated services or reduced rates for fundraisers, community events or other exceptional reasons?

A. Yes! Contact me; if your project is working to make the world better, I would like to support it with music.

Q. What's the drill for wedding music?

Wedding package includes 20 minutes as guests arrive, processional, signing of the register, recessional and postlude.

rachel nolan harpist

Q. What music will you play at my wedding or event?

A. Music is chosen together with you! Choose from classical (e.g Bach, Vivaldi, Schubert, Debussy), Celtic, Golden Age (e.g. Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland), 60s/70s Folk  (Leonard Cohen, The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel), or current hits (e.g. Adele, Bruno Mars, Muse, Billie Eilish). The wedding ceremony package also includes one original arrangement of a song of your choice if it's not already in my repertoire, free.  Contact me to learn more.


Q. Can we carry the harp to the event location via this tractor/golf cart/haywagon/my buddies?

A. No. Sorry. I can carry the pedal harp short distances and up about 4 stairs, and I need to be able to back my car up to within a few metres of the door or event location. Otherwise, we can use my small harp.

Q. If I need to cancel the event after paying the deposit, will you refund me the deposit?

A.  To book with me, a 50% deposit of our agreed-upon price for agreed-upon service secures you the date and initiates my preparation for your event. The deposit is my assurance against cancellation. Unfortunately I have had to learn to require a deposit the hard way, after preparing for an engagement, declining other opportunities, and then having the client cancel the engagement; I lose. Not only do I say no to other potential clients for the date you have secured, I immediately begin preparing for your event, which may include researching, planning, arranging and practising repertoire. This work is reflected in my fee - it's part of what you pay for!

So, in general, the answer here is no. If I need to pull out of your event, I will make every effort to find you a replacement harpist and will refund your deposit in full. If you cancel the event, there are no refunds on the deposit, except at my discretion in compassionate circumstances.

rachel nolan harpist

Q. Can you play with my friend/another musician that I've hired?

A. Yes, subject to mutual availability for rehearsal; Fees for rehearsal are necessary.

Q. What will you wear to my event? Can I select it?

A. If you have a preference for a specific style or colour you can always ask, and I'll try to accommodate. However, generally the answer here is no.  I typically wear "concert blacks" to professional events: black dress pants or a black dress.

Q. Can you sing? Do you usually sing at weddings?

A. I can sing, I don't usually sing at weddings. I sing in a folk style, with harp accompaniment, when providing featured live music. I sing my arrangements of 20th century folk, pop and alternative music, and Irish music.

Q. Where can I listen to samples of your playing?

A. I'm afraid that recording samples for this website has just never made it to the top of the priority list. If you would like a glimpse of my work, it's out of date and contains mostly original work and a few harp showpieces and collaborations, rather than the familiar tunes I usually provide as background music, but you can check out my Soundcloud if you like:

Q. Does your harp have a name? What is it?

A. I can't tell you that! 

to ask questions or find out more, please feel free to contact me.

Looking for my music therapy or psychotherapy services?

Flourish Therapy Practices
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