Café Operana are :
Lois Johnston (voice)
Helen Webby (pedal harp)
Sophia Bidwell (piano accordion)
Lois graduated from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and forged a career singing early and contemporary music. Almost 10 years later, she " discovered" opera, prompting her to gain a postgraduate diploma from Birmingham Conservatoire in Operatic Performance. From there, she trod the boards of opera houses around Europe, before settling in NZ where she is now a citizen. Café Operana fulfils the musical maverick in her.
Principal Harp with Christchurch Symphony, Helen Webby loves to take her gold harp out from the back of the orchestra and sparkle in the limelight.
Her dancing fingers and big smile create a magical journey, from Bach and the Baroque, to Paris and La Belle Epoque, to the latest in contemporary music.
Her CD Pluck (MANU) was nominated for Best Classical CD in the 2013 NZ Music Awards, and was made into a DVD film Harps Make Fine Companions, recently screened by Television New Zealand.
With one foot in the opera camp and the other firmly planted in folk music, Sophia brings to Café Operana her experience as a repetiteur for Canterbury Opera as well as many years working in folk and covers bands. Originally a classical pianist, she has been a convert to the accordion for many years.