She strides on stage like a rock-star, her head of long colorful braids flying – and she’s wearing a 32-string electric harp. She’s the woman from Boston who changed the way the world sees a harp. And this summer, for the first time ever, audiences have been streaming the performance that won her a Grammy Nomination.

She’s electric harp legend Deborah Henson-Conant (“DHC”) – and Sat. Aug. 22, 2020 at FOUR SEPARATE SCREENINGS: 5am, 9am, 3pm, and 8pm EDT, audiences can experience “Invention & Alchemy” with the woman who created this entire live concert of original, accessible symphonic music, in the Closing Night of the limited streaming window that opened earlier this summer.

The goal of this collaborative virtual release between Henson-Conant and the Grand Rapids Symphony was twofold: an event to inspire and uplift audiences, as well as well as a fundraiser to support the symphony.  The “Virtual Concert” and “Meet the Artist” streaming events are free, and viewers can support the Grand Rapids Symphony through an optional donation.

People can RSVP here: https://www.hipharp.com/invention-and-alchemy2020
Watch the 45 Second trailer here: https://youtu.be/z-AYgqVxnH0

15 years ago this all-original concert, “Invention & Alchemy,” was recorded live in front of a packed 2500-seat hall with an 80-piece orchestra – a combination of stories, theater, humor and an original score, composed, orchestrated and performed by Deborah Henson-Conant with conductor David Lockington and the Grand Rapids Symphony.  

“It’s like you invented a new genre: Orchestral Comedic Theater!” said Ben Cohen, who saw it in a recent premiere.

“It not only broke the stereotype of the harp, but featured so many orchestra members” said Sally Walstrum, from Nevada.

We’ve watched it 7 times now,” said Mia Moran, “and my kids ran out and sang your Garbageman song to our garbage collectors last week” 

The project won Henson-Conant a Grammy Nomination in 2006, appeared as a PBS Special in 2007, and was released on DVD, but it was never available for streaming until Covid-19 created a need for high-quality virtual concerts – and symphony fundraising. This summer, for the first time ever, for a limited time, the show became available for streaming. Now that streaming window is about to close with a week of on-demand streaming (Aug. 17-23) and FOUR special interactive concert FINALEs Saturday, August 22, 2020.


Henson-Conant’s music is inspired by Jazz, Blues, Latin, musical theater and spoken word – and she’s equally at home performing one-woman shows, leading a trio, or performing her original work with chamber ensemble or orchestra. It was after a  performance as a soloist with the Grand Rapids Symphony that philanthropist Peter Wege approached her and said, “What I saw out there on that stage, I want the whole world to see.”

With Wege’s support, she created “Invention & Alchemy.” But his dream of bringing this work to the whole world finally became possible this summer as streaming restrictions were lifted on the project by the AFM (American Federation of Musicians) so it could be used as a fundraiser for the Grand Rapids Symphony during the COVID-19 pandemic.


WHAT: Streaming Finale of “Invention & Alchemy”
WHO: Soloist Deborah Henson-Conant, with David Lockington & the Grand Rapids Symphony

  • August 11–23: Streaming on Demand – closing week!
  • August 22 at 5am, 9am, 3pm and 8pm EDT: Special Live Streaming Finale of “Invention & Alchemy” and “Meet the Artist” events


DHC has been called the “Jimi Hendrix of the harp” by legendary rock guitarist Steve Vai, and “a cross between Leonard Bernstein and Xena, Warrior Princess” by the Boston Globe. 

She’s performed her one-woman shows at the Kennedy Center, premiered her works for orchestra and harp with symphonies in the U.S. and Europe – and has created an international online academy to coach harp players worldwide in the art of reinvention through improvisation.


The Livestream Premiere of “Invention & Alchemy is a fundraising event for the Grand Rapids Symphony.  Join us. Take your place in the symphony of community culture. And see just how powerful your voice can be. All donations will be matched dollar for dollar through Aug. 31, 2020. Donate HERE https://www.grsymphony.org/donate

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