Carolyn Mills

Carolyn’s passion for the harp has taken her all around the world.

Principal Harpist of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra since 1989, Carolyn has performed in concerts and festivals across the globe.  She has shared the stage with many luminary artists of our time, including Renée Fleming, Hilary Hahn, Ray Charles, Sting, and The Muppets.  She has recorded five solo and chamber music albums on the Atoll label, and has also collaborated frequently with genre-bending artists such as award-winning composer David Long, on his recent album release Ash and Bone, and Japanese composer and performer Joji Hirota at WOMAD.  Carolyn became known as the world's southern-most harpist when she was invited as guest artist aboard the MV Marco Polo for its Antarctic expeditions.

Carolyn studied with the legendary harp teacher Lucile Lawrence, and co-authored a book (with Sara Cutler) about Miss Lawrence's philosophies and teaching principles.  Carolyn loves to share her experience with young and developing harpists – and her students have gone on to many successes, including top prizes in international competitions, and appointments with orchestras and ensembles around the world.

Since age five, Carolyn has been fascinated by the harp's unique qualities and its ability to weave a magic spell for so many (including herself!).  In recent years she has begun a deep exploration into the fields of sound therapy, vibration and resonance, and therapeutic music.  She is now a Certified Music Practitioner and offers harp therapy to individuals and groups in hospitals, care homes, and other healthcare settings, using a small Celtic style harp.  Her experiences in this work leave her with no doubt about the special powers of the harp's resonance in helping heal the human spirit.

Carolyn plays a harp made by Aotearoa-based harp-maker Kim Webby.

Contact Carolyn at

An Enchanted Land

Check out Carolyn's most recent recording project, featuring a number of Celtic pieces for solo harp.

Released by Atoll Records.

Lucile Lawrence

A Harpist's Philosophy

Sara Cutler and Carolyn Mills

A tribute to Lucile Lawrence and her unique teaching methods and philosophies.

Published by Lyon and Healy

Available at


Vacances parisiennes | Kevin Kaska

arr. Carolyn Mills

Interviews and Radio

Carolyn is passionate about the harp and enjoys discussing the harp and harp music in interviews.  Check out some below:

Radio New Zealand interview with Brian Crump:

NZSO Principal Harp Carolyn Mills has a new album out on the Atoll label. An Enchanted Land is a selection of traditional Celtic melodies for solo harp - and it is a concert harp, rather than a Celtic or folk harp. Carolyn has arranged several pieces herself, including 'She Moved Through the Fair' and 'George Brabazon'.

Performance by the Amici Ensemble on Radio New Zealand:

The Amici Ensemble was formed in 1988 and the performers are mostly principal players with the NZSO and leading chamber musicians on the New Zealand music scene. For this concert, Amici comprises Donald Armstrong (violin), Malavika Gopal (violin), Andrew Thomson (viola), Ken Ichinose (cello), Bridget Douglas (flute), Patrick Barry (clarinet) and Carolyn Mills (harp).

Testimonials and Reviews

On préludes & romances:

...unpretentious and lovely recital, enchanting for the clarity, grace, and consummate musicianship of her playing.

The New Zealand Listener

As a passionate ambassador for the instrument, she has collaborated with composers and inspired new works, several of them on the 18 tracks of this CD. This recording shows the diversity and beauty of sounds possible from the harp, played by an expert soloist.

Otago Daily Times

On Carolyn's playing:

...Some of the most atmospheric and diaphonously-woven harp playing in this piece I have ever heard...incomparably sensitive...

Peter Mechen,

Within her sound is a core of grit and strength too often missing from the playing of modern harpists.  

Steve Elman, WBUR Radio, Boston

Ravishing sounds, memorable ideas and economy of gesture were incorporated in a performance of great sensitivity and technical accomplishment.

John Button, Dominion, Wellington