After dialing back her touring and recording career for 20 years to raise her children, care for her mother and recover from a shoulder injury, renowned Canadian cellist Ofra Harnoy is making a comeback.
“For me, performing and playing is kind of like breathing,” she said. “It’s something that I’ve missed in my life. It’s a necessary part of my life and it’s amazing to be back doing it.”
Harnoy, a five-time Juno Award winner and Member of the Order of Canada, made 42 recordings and toured the world throughout the ’80 and ’90s. Last November she returned to performing with a concert in Toronto and on Sunday, Sept. 29 she comes to Nanaimo for her Port Theatre debut. She said it’s been more than 25 years since she’s performed on Vancouver Island.
“These are my first concerts in a while and I have a lot of tours booked for the following year so everything is back the way I want it to be,” Harnoy said, adding that she’s looking forward to playing audience favourites and unveiling new material.
Earlier this month, Harnoy released Back to Bach, her first album in two decades. The record sees Harnoy revisit some pieces of repertoire that she recorded when she was younger, while also exploring the possibilities of modern recording advancements.
“With the technology that’s available today I was really interested in trying this new approach to multi-tracking,” she said.
On one track Harnoy’s husband, trumpeter Mike Herriott, plays all the parts in a brass choir to emulate the sound of an organ, and at one point on the album Harnoy plays a composition written for nine cellos.
“That was both challenging, exciting and the outcome is beyond anything I expected. It’s so beautiful,” she said.
Herriott will perform alongside Harnoy at the Port Theatre to present their new repertoire. Harnoy said she’s very happy with the new album and arrangements they’ve created and looks forward to seeing how audiences react.
“I love sharing music with audiences and I love playing and exploring new repertoire and it’s a life that I love,” she said. “So I’m back to it.”
Now that she’s back to recording and touring, Harnoy said requests are “flying in” and she’s excited to have so many options before her.
“I am lined up to do another four recordings and we’re actually going to work on the next one a little later this fall and then in the spring I’m going on a big Far East tour so basically back to how it was,” she said, adding that it’s just the reception she was hoping for.
“And, at this age, to have the maturity and to understand the music in a different way and explore it in a different way is also very exciting,” Harnoy said.
WHAT’S ON … Ofra Harnoy performs at the Port Theatre on Sunday, Sept. 29 at 3 p.m. Tickets $53, $48 for members. Available here.