David Helfand is a multi-instrumentalist who composes and performs original instrumental music on Celtic Harp, mandocello, octave mandolin, guitar, keyboards and performs with violist extraordinaire, Justin Lader.
Their music is an eclectic blend of original multi-cultural inspired music of passion and transcendence with inspirations from the Celtic lands, the Middle East, pentatonic meditation music, space music and progressive rock. They have performed throughout the Northwest and the San Fransisco Bay area and released three albums together to date. From 1996 to 2009, David recorded six albums as a solo artist and with ensembles.
David’s musical journey began in New York where he started as a drummer in high school and played with a band called Ruby Nash. While in school he dabbled with guitar and concentrated on the instrument when he started college. During the ’70s, he had the wondrous opportunity to see incredible concerts of some of the giants of British Progressive rock and folk rock such as Genesis with Peter Gabriel, the Strawbs, Jethro Tull, ELP and Gentle Giant along with a host of American bands.
Later unbeknownst to him, he was introduced to a band that would eventually inspire him to play the Celtic Harp. The group was The Incredible String Band with Robin Williamson and Mike Heron. After collecting all their vinyl albums in used-record shops and finding each one a treasure, in 1979 he had the opportunity to see one of the founding members perform live, which was Robin Williamson. By then, Robin moved to LA and formed a new band called the Merry Band with Sylvia Woods on Celtic Harp. At that point, David was looking for a new instrument to play and was transfixed by the sound of Sylvia’s harp. It was then and there that he said he was going to play the Celtic Harp.
Over the years, David has performed at many Northwest festivals and in 2003 was invited to perform at the environmental center in Cornwall, England, called the Eden Project. That same year, David performed at the harp conference, HarpCon in Bloomington, Indiana. In the mid ’90s he also produced and performed four concerts at the Lane ESD Planetarium with his former acoustic/electronic space music group Mythic Sky.
With Justin, David has performed at the Eugene Irish Festival, Music to Die For series, the Seattle and Santa Cruz library system, house concerts in Berkeley and Alamo Calif., Occidental Center for the Arts and Don Quixote’s near Santa Cruz.
David’s albums with Justin include the all acoustic harp/viola CD called “After the Rain,” their Celtic inspired album “From a Distant Time ” and their new Space Opus album “Through the Portal.”
David’s previous albums include “Beyond the Sea of Reeds,” which was inspired by his first journey to Israel, “At the Edge of the Cornish Sea,” by his first journey to Britain, “First Light,” “Callings From the Quiet Grove,” “Memories and Stardust” and with his former ensemble “Mythic Sky.”
David has performed and opened for Radim Zenkle, Robin Williamson and Tempest. And with Justin he has opened for Patrick Ball, Aryeh Frankfurter and Lisa Lynn.