June 28, 2019
Suneetha Carter has taken over the reins from her father, Stephen, managing Carter Harps. This family business has long been our esteemed partner in South Australia – and it’s Suneetha who is the harpist! She began her studies in Adelaide with Rosemary St John of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, before completing her bachelor studies in Canada with Judy Loman. Stephen Carter was a flautist, also in the Adelaide Symphony, when he was asked to take over the late Peter Kempster’s lever harp business.
“The fact that my dad and I are both musicians made it much easier to work together”, Suneetha remembers. “There’s a lot you don’t have to explain. Of course, it was also my dad who had most contact with the harp world while I was learning, because he worked with my teacher, moved my harp, and drove me to lessons. He brought all that personal contact into the business. He had a great relationship with his clients, and he often went above and beyond to help them out. He’d drive down and put harp strings on for customers who were struggling with it. Now he’s retired and I’ve been phoning everyone to tell them, I’ve found out a lot I didn’t know about my dad…
We started distributing Camac Harps about twenty years ago. Australian harpists face a few quite specific challenges. We’re spaced far apart from each other, so it’s not always easy to get your harp regulated. The Camac rod-tuner, which allows you to buff up your regulation between professional services, was a big selling-point for us. As a harpist, I was also intrigued by the work Camac’s done on the ergonomics of the harp: the instruments are lighter and more comfortable to play, and this is also very attractive for customers. Thirdly – to be honest – it was our experience that it wasn’t always the best instruments in a maker’s fleet that got sent to Australia, and this has never been an issue for us with Camac. The consistency in the quality is very impressive, in both pedal and lever harps. When I was researching the instruments, I couldn’t find a single bad review, and I’ve not been disappointed since.”
Today, Carter Harps offers a comprehensive, one-stop shop for Australian harpists. As well as the distribution of Camac’s full range, there are artisan Australian lever harps from Tim Guster and Andrew Thom; an online store for sheet music and accessories; and second-hand and rental stock. “I’m also working on expanding the touring my father began”, says Suneetha. “I go to Tasmania every year, and this August I’ll go to Queensland. You always have to factor in three to four days travel time, for each trip, but obviously people prefer to see a harp before they make a decision. Also I think many Australian harpists see what has been happening at Harp Island in Tasmania – where harp playing at all levels brings you into a really welcoming community. I’ve been going for the last six years, although it’ll be different in 2020 because I’ve always gone with my father before.”
You can contact Suneetha and Carter Harps via their newly-updated website, carterharpsaustralia.com.au.