International Vocal Coach / Recitalist
New Zealand /British
The internationally renowned pianist and vocal coach David Harper has helped shape the careers of many of today’s most distinguished singers. David has been much in-demand for masterclasses and vocal workshops dealing with style, interpretation and vocal technique, as well as guest professorships and teaching residencies throughout Europe, Japan, USA and Australasia.
Early success in New Zealand as an aspiring concert pianist led to further study at the Royal College of Music in London, funded by scholarships from the Arts Council of New Zealand and the Royal Schools of Music. However, an overwhelming passion for the lyric arts very soon eclipsed any solo piano ambitions, and within a few years of leaving college David had fulfilled his dream to work exclusively with singers.
Four years spent on the music staff at English National Opera in London provided the invaluable experience of close collaboration with all voice types in a broad range of operatic styles, but eventually David resigned in order to launch a freelance career. Invitations to perform on the recital platform with a wide variety of singers followed in quick succession. BBC studio broadcasts, recitals at the Wigmore Hall and many other engagements throughout the British Isles and across Europe soon gained for him a glowing reputation as a singers’ accompanist of rare sensitivity and support. For many years he was also harpsichordist with the Stockholm-based Drottningholms Baroque Ensemble, frequently joining them on tours throughout Scandinavia and Europe, USA, and the Far East.
In addition to his prolific performing activities, a deep interest in vocal technique and performance style led to the development of an immensely successful vocal coaching practice. Now based in New Zealand, for a long time, David's wide-reaching reputation in this field centred around a thriving London-based studio where his client list included young aspiring professionals from all points of the globe as well as numerous prominent international artists including Barbara Bonney, Anne Sophie von Otter, Yvonne Kenny, Nelly Miricioiu, Alice Coote and so many more. Many of the latter invited him to collaborate in recital at such prestigious venues as the Edinburgh Festival (Scotland): Wexford Festival & Dublin Concert Hall (Ireland): Roy Thompson Hall (Toronto) & Centre des Arts (Montréal): La Monnaie Opera House & Palais des Arts (Brussels): Concertgebouw (Amsterdam,): Salle Gaveau & Châtelet (Paris): Chopin Festival (Valldemosa,Spain): Berwaldhallen & Konserthuset (Stockholm): the Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Adelaide International Arts Festivals: Tsuda Recital Hall and Suntory Arts Centre (Tokyo): Minato Mirai Performing Arts Centre (Yokohama): Seoul Arts Centre (Korea): Taipei National Concert Hall (Taiwan) - to name but a few.
CD recordings include 9 Volumes in an on-going series entitled “Il Salotto” (The Salon) for Opera Rara London exploring the extensive but hitherto largely neglected repertoire of songs and cantatas with piano accompaniment, specifically composed by such mid 19th century composers as Mercadante, Rossini, Pacini, Donizetti, Verdi, Balfe, Gabussi, Costa, Meyerbeer, Mayr etc for performance in the private salons of that era. Also for Opera Rara : ‘Pauline Viardot & Friends’ - a live recording of a recent Wigmore Hall and Châtelet presentation featuring Frederica von Stade, Vladimir Chernov, and Anna Caterina Antonacci.
For Trust Records New Zealand he has recorded ‘Elegy. A Recital of English Song’ with Paul Whelan: 'Canciones Españolas’ with Deborah Wai Kapohe: and 'Franz Liszt Songs’ with Keith Lewis. Further CDs are in the planning stage.
Recent engagements encompass recitals in Brussels: London: Paris: Lille: Amsterdam: Rotterdam: Stockholm: Frankfurt: Geneva: Japan: India (Bombay): Australia: and New Zealand, as well as private coaching in Sweden: Norway: France: Germany: Japan: Singapore: & New Zealand.
David has been a prominent fixture in the Australian opera training scene, formerly a guest coach at Opera Australia, and frequent invitations to sit on adjudication panels of various national and international singing competitions. David has been a long-time official competition pianist for the IFAC Handa Australian Singing Competition, The Joan Sutherland & Richard Bonynge Bel Canto Award and the Elizabeth Connell Prize.