Metal-Worker, Carpenter, Harp-Maker
Kim Webby built his first harp for his sister to play, before he left secondary school in Whangarei., twenty five years ago.
Today Kim is New Zealand's only maker of professional concert harps. His sister, Helen, is harpist for the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, playing one of her several Kim Webby harps.
It can take Kim two years to produce one instrument, each of the hundreds of pieces of the hidden complex mechanics is lovingly made by him. The only parts he buys ready made are the rubber covers for the foot pedals and the strings.
For the glossy exterior he likes to use native red beech, except for the soundboard. He builds that of North American spruce, because it's light, springy and very strong. Kim says Northland is humid, so he dries and seasons the wood over several years before he uses it.
You can order a new harp from Kim. For eighty thousand dollars. But you might have to wait a year or five. Each instrument comes with its pillar adorned by a unique nikau palm carving.
For Spectrum, David Steemson visits Kim Webby in his Whangarei basement garage workshop, to learn some of the secrets of the harp-building trade.
(Music details - CD "The Peacock's Dance" - Celtic music for harp and guitar. Helen Webby and Davy Stuart- tracks 4 and 7-Copyright 2001 Helen Webby and Davy Stuart.
CD "Reverie"- Helen Webby Harp, Anthony Ferner Flute. Manu 2050. Copyright 2006 Ode Record Company Limited. Track 2 "The Garden of Adonis" Suite by Alan Hovhaness (1911-2000)-.Track 16 "Meditation sur le premier Prelude de Bach by Gounod (1818-1893)-Track17 "Reverie" Debussy (1862-1918).