My Geelong

Christine Middleton (Louisa Jones) 252014_29

Christine Middleton decided that she wanted to turn her focus to music and it resulted in a mid-career change. The local musician speaks to Luke Voogt about that decision and what she enjoys the most about her new career direction.

Tell us a bit about yourself?

I was brought up in Alexandra and after living in Melbourne, Maryborough and Jerilderie, I relocated to Portarlington 20 years ago. I live with my ex-Riverina farmer and husband Tim, who is a local handyman and Australian Bush Poet and we have a number of children and grandchildren between us. After working as a social worker for many years, I decided to change careers to pursue a living as a harpist.

How did you get into music and playing the harp and why?

Growing up I played piano and guitar. I loved folk music and sang all the songs of Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Peter, Paul & Mary and The Seekers. Some years ago, we billeted a Welsh harpist at our home during the National Celtic Festival held in Portarlington. I was immediately drawn to the beauty and the sound of the instrument and asked her for a lesson on the last day of the festival. I have been playing the harp ever since.

How long have you been busking/performing for?

I’ve been a street performer with COGG for eight years and usually play in Little Malop Street. The harp is a unique and beautiful instrument that evokes different reactions from the passersby. Some people sit in the garden chairs and close their eyes, some stand still and watch in fascination, others want to talk about their musical journeys. I play all the old melodic classics such as “unforgettable” and “Somewhere over the Rainbow” and every Xmas I get into the spirit by dressing up as a Xmas Angel, complete with wings and halo.

What are your favourite things to do or places to visit in Geelong?

I tend to stay local and enjoy long walks around our beautiful bayside beach in Portarlington. When I do visit Geelong, I often visit the Geelong Gallery or walk along the Geelong Waterfront admiring the colourful bollards and enjoying the “Buzz” of the area. I always stop for a glass of local wine at The Edge.

How are you coping with COVID-19, personally and/or professionally?

As a professional musician and stage performer, it’s been pretty tough with festivals and special events being cancelled. I have been re-booked three times to date for a local wedding so it’s tough for brides, venues and other professionals within the industry as well.

What’s something interesting about you that people might not know?

I’ve said some pretty rude things about banjo players in the past but now I’ve begun learning to play it myself and enjoying the instrument immensely. I’m told that St. Peter is turning harp players away at the pearly gates and only accepting banjo players currently, so I’m hedging my bets.