The Hobart

OFF SEASON: Harping On: With Em Sanzaro

by Stephanie Williams
OFF SEASON: Harping On: With Em Sanzaro

Emily Sanzaro is here to tell you to leave your preconceived ideas about harp music at the door. The harpist, singer, storyteller, artist and mum collaborates with many of Tasmania’s biggest names and this Off Season she is working with Launceston’s Stillwater Restaurant for a unique event combining contemporary music and storytelling.

“It’s not your standard background music gig,” says Sanzaro. “I’ll combine live music and story-telling in a way that’s relaxed and personal, in between courses of the delicious food, wine and hospitality that Stillwater is famous for. I have an informal performance style and you won’t be hearing the type of music you might expect to hear from a harp because I don’t really do much of that!” she laughs.

It’s a fitting time for Sanzaro to perform: she loves the Off Season in Tasmania. “I think the very best part of winter in Tassie is being awake for the dawn every day,” she says. “I’m so inspired by that sense of renewal, possibility and a clean slate along with the spectacular vista of the winter light creeping into the clouds, the land crisp with frost. We have so many beautiful, clear, cold mornings in Launnie and they are just magic. The early darkness in the evenings brings such a sense of cosiness. I love hearty winter food and I absolutely LOVE luxuriating in winter fashion. I find clothes for cool weather way more fun and interesting. Oh, and a good hot gin toddy at a bonfire with friends on a winter’s night…pure gold!”

Sanzaro is naturally a winter person, but does have some solid advice for those who aren’t fully sold on this time of year yet. “My tip would be to try and find the beauty in it. I do feel that many people get bogged down in complaining about feeling cold, or the shorter amount of daylight, but I’m all about finding ways to make it a good thing. Make good clothing choices so that you can just get outside despite the cooler temperature.

Like many artists, Sanzaro is leaning into the Off Season’s chance to create at a time when the distractions of summer go quiet. “The cool brings more intensity to my creative process, and a visceral sense of comfort and clarity. Things are usually not quite so frenetic as they are in summer. The slower pace gives me time to think, to mull over ideas, to learn new techniques, hone compositions or write new ones, to experiment. It’s like I come to life in winter. I’m in my power when it’s cold and dark.”

One of Sanzaro’s favourite things is to play and sing in the wilderness – which is somewhat difficult with an enormous harp! “I’ve taken my small harp to many places in the Tasmanian wilderness,” she says. “I have a bespoke harp backpack which helps me hike pretty easily. I’d love to take the harp to the summit of Frenchman’s Cap – I climbed that mountain almost 30 years ago and it was incredible.

To book your seat at the event on 14 August, head to

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May 2024

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