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May 2024

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Courtesy Photos Michael and Terry Chastain ran Harps of Lorien in El Rito since 2011 and are now retiring.

After 40 Years, El Rito’s Harps of Lorien Closes

After almost 40 years as one of the El Rito’s prominent businesses, Harps of Lorien has closed its doors. Harps of Lorien provided harps, lyres and meditation instruments to schools, professional and amateur harpists. They have also worked with a new breed of harp therapists who provide palliative music to the sick and dying in hospitals and hospices around the world. The company was known for its excellent customer service as well as having a fine reputation for the superb tone quality and beautiful contours of the harps and instruments it produced.

Raphael Weisman and his wife Lorna (who now goes by the name Lasita) and their child Joy settled in El Rito in 1982, building a workshop and then a home. Their second child Elisha was born in 1984 at home in El Rito. The third child, Grace Oriel was born in Taos in 1988. Almost all his harp models are named after his children and their middle names!

Raphael brought with him the skill of building Renaissance and Baroque instruments which he acquired in London where he trained and then crafted instruments for a growing body of Early Music musicians beside the London Early Music Center.

They became part of the local community in El Rito and Questa, employing and training locals in the business and took an active role in developing some of the region’s institutions. Raphael was a founding member of the Latir Volunteer Fire Department and the Questa Vecindad Chamber of Commerce. He also became an EMT and worked on the Questa and Taos ambulance services.

Harps of Lorien focused on providing instruments for Waldorf and homeschooling families around the country and developed a line of professional round-back harps. Realizing there was a need for more affordable instruments, Raphael designed a line of economy models with flat backs that were lightweight and portable, ranging from a small 22-string travel harp that could fit in the overhead compartment of a plane to a 30-string floor model with removable stand.

Their 26-string therapy harp became a favorite instrument with the burgeoning constituency of harp therapists who appreciated its sweet and mellow tone. Raphael wrote one of the first articles on harp therapy. Meanwhile he also developed the art of carving designs like roses in the embellishment features that hid the reinforcing strips which strengthened the fragile neck joints.

In 1990, following the tragic loss of his oldest 9-year-old daughter, Joy, the family experienced many changes and the workshop moved to various locations around the neighborhood. Finally, it settled in the expanded old goat barn on the family land where it still exists during this current period of dissolution.

In 2011 Raphael retired and moved to Santa Fe passing the baton to Michael and Terry Chastain, who upheld the high quality of craftsmanship and customer relations over the many years since then. Michael became an adept craftsman and harp-builder and Terry, a CPA, oversaw the business of the newly formed S-Corporation and kept the books along with taking care of sanding the Lyres and Little Minstrels and processing and shipping orders. This year (2022), Michael and Terry have chosen to retire and focus on their homestead and inventions in Sunshine Valley, so the choice was made to dissolve the corporation.

Raphael Weisman is a minister and continues to live in Santa Fe. He is the author of The Path of the Spiritual Warrior. He is a channel, practitioner and trainer of a transformational modality called HeartThread. He sells Shungite, a magical mineral that reverses the negative effect of EMFs and purifies water, from his Santa Fe office where he pursues his healing practice and ministry. For more information, visit: www.RaphaelWeisman.com