World-travelling cellist discovers new music On the Rock

Ofra Harnoy was born in Israel, grew up in Toronto, and toured the world as a musician, but discovered the music of Newfoundland and Labrador only when she moved here.

Have a First Listen to Ofra Harnoy's new album

Ofra Harnoy's album On the Rock draws inspiration from her new home in St. John's. (Submitted by Lisa B. Sells )

Ofra Harnoy was born in Israel, grew up in Toronto, and travelled the world as a solo cellist in the world of classical music. 

However, she knew next to nothing about the musical repertoire of Newfoundland and Labrador until she relocated to St. John's a few years ago. 

"I'd never heard any of these pieces before I moved here," said Harnoy. 

Research road trip

Harnoy and her husband — musician and arranger Mike Herriott — hit the road to rural Newfoundland to do more research, armed with a long playlist of songs from this province. 

After visiting some of the communities that inspired songs such as Petty Harbour Bait Skiff and Cliffs of Baccalieu, Harnoy and Herriott chose a collection of 14 songs that make up Harnoy's new album, On the Rock

Lots of collaborators

On the Rock features guest performers from the Newfoundland and Labrador music community, including Alan Doyle and Bob Hallett, formerly of Great Big Sea, and jazz vocalist Heather Bambrick.   

The result is a collection of music that infuses the tunes with Harnoy's classical influences. 

"Our hope with for this album is to be true and respectful to the tradition of these songs, in a way that also shares my love of this music through the voice of the cello," said Harnoy. 

Enjoying life

Harnoy has also embraced life in Newfoundland and Labrador, enjoying hiking, berry picking, and dining out in local restaurants. 

"I've spent my entire life travelling. And from the moment we arrived here three years ago, this just felt like the place I want to call home." 

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Heather Barrett is the host and producer of Weekend AM on CBC Radio One in Newfoundland and Labrador.