On the Record: Canadian Jewish Musicians of Note

Erica Goodman

Nov. 30, 2020

Erica Goodman (Jan. 19, 1948 – ) Harpist 


When I think about the harp, the first person who comes to mind is Harpo Marx. Though he said he played the instrument “the wrong way,” according to imdb.com, he taught himself well enough that when he took proper lessons from various harpists and music teachers in New York and Los Angeles, many were fascinated by his approach and even adopted his techniques.

So I was intrigued by a recommendation from friend and neighbour Sheila Katz Levine, who told me about Canadian Jewish harpist Erica Goodman. Robert Cummings, writing at allmusic.com, called Goodman “arguably the most prominent Canadian harpist of her generation, and easily among the top several from North America. Her technique is all-encompassing and her interpretive skills incisive and imaginative.”

Her father, also Toronto and Jewish-born, was violinist and teacher Hyman Goodman. She began piano lessons with Myrtle Guerrero at 10, and at 11, started to study the concert chromatic harp. A performer in her teens, she played under the baton of Igor Stravinsky when he recorded in Toronto. Erica’s teachers included Carol Baum at UCLA in 1966-‘67; summer sessions with Charles Kleinsteuber at Interlochen in Michigan from 1959 to 1965; and with Judy Loman from 1958 to 1965 at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.

In Philadelphia, she studied with Marilyn Costello at the Curtis Institute of Music and performed as a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

After graduating from Curtis, Goodman joined the newly-created National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa under Mario Bernardi, who gave her the honour of playing, as a soloist, Harry Somers’ Suite for Harp and Chamber Orchestra at the orchestra’s New York Lincoln Center debut performance in 1972, reported galleryplayers.ca. Music critic Jacob Siskind of the Ottawa Citizen wrote that Goodman’s “tremendous technical ability makes the listener believe that the harp has no restrictions.”

Goodman is “acclaimed as one of the world’s outstanding solo harpists,” lauded Artoftimeensemble.com.

She has appeared at international festivals and across Canada, the United States and Europe, and in hundreds of radio and TV productions, commercials and film scores. She’s performed with Tony Bennett, Gene DiNovi, Percy Faith, Hagood Hardy and Henry Mancini, among many others.

In 1978, she was the first co-winner, with Lawrence Pitchkin, of the Mona Bates Award, a scholarship established to honour the respected pianist-performer and teacher at the Royal Conservatory of Music. Two years later, Goodman garnered the Grand Prix du Disque Canada for her recording Flute and Harp with Robert Aiken, and then a Juno Award for her solo album Erica Goodman Plays Canadian Harp Music. A NOW magazine “Best of Toronto” readers’ poll selected her as Best Classical Musician in 1996.

She is a member of Toronto’s Esprit Orchestra, with which she played Alex Pauk’s Concerto for Harp and Orchestra, composed for Goodman in 2005, and is frequently featured as a concerto soloist with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra.

Over the years, Goodman has also appeared with Camerata, the Elmer Iseler singers, the Festival Singers, her father Hyman Goodman, flutist Suzanne Shulman and opera soprano Riki Turofsky. Canadian composers Marjan Mozetich and Jeffrey Ryan also wrote works expressly for her.

A New Music Concerts Ensemble charter member, she has recorded three albums on the Naxos label featuring the music of ToruTakemitsu (awarded Editor’s Choice by Gramophone), George Crumb and Elliott Carter).

Check out her albums on tidal.com: For There and Then (2012), Jeux A Deux (1982), and Erica Goodman and Friends (1992). Reflections: Romantic Duets for Cello & Harp (2007) is guaranteed enjoyable listening. My favourite is Heavenly Harp from 2013.

David Eisenstadt
David Eisenstadt

David Eisenstadt is Founding Partner of tcgpr.co, the Canadian member of IPREX Global Communication. He is a graduate of Carleton University’s School of Journalism and the University of Calgary.