Brandden was born in 1942 on Cape Cod in the USA. He was raised and educated in America first having receiving a Bachelors degree in Landscape Architecture/Town Planning and later a Master of Fine Arts degree. His advanced studies included architecture with the likes of Paulo Soleri, furniture design with Wendell Castle and ceramics/sculpture with Frans Wildenhain. His life experiences and career paths have varied from teaching at university level to building designer-craftsman houses, to being a potter and furniture maker, to project manager of major construction projects. He migrated to Australia in the late 1980’s as an adventure and fell in love with Australia subsequently becoming an Australian citizen.
At a mature age, Brandden, found the harp and became intrigued by the design and many variations among harps, he also had some ideas of how to improve the sound. After some serious soul searching while on a solitary retreat, he decided that what really called him was the possibility of making harps and trying out his ideas. He then tossed aside his life style and decided to pursue a path of making harps. The first step was to visit a number of harp makers and luthiers overseas that he had heard of and respected. He visited these craftsmen/craftswomen and offered to sweep floors or help in anyway that he could in order to spend time with them to find out a bit more about this mysterious world of harp making. Some he only spent hours with and others weeks. Some of the more influential were Alan Carruth, Howard Bryan, Dusty Strings, Steve Tripplet, Betty Truitt and the folks at Robinsons.
Brandden returned to Australia, hired a factory in Gosford NSW, hung out his shingle and started building harps. Word soon got out about the fantastic sound and fine craftsmanship of the harps that he produced. Before long he had a waiting list and was selling worldwide based on this reputation.
Brandden enjoys the challenges of custom harps and has built many. Along the way he became interested with chromatic or cross strung harps. After much research and thought, he embarked on making his first cross strung 3 octave lap harp. Based on this knowledge and success he was soon making larger 5 octave chromatic harps. Brandden’s cross strung chromatic harps have found homes not only in Australia but in Sweden, America and Indonesia.
Along the way Brandden crossed paths with talented Brisbane harpist Donald Hall. After making him a “standard” 5 octave cross strung as well as another larger harp with a restored Grecian column, they began discussing in detail what Donald had determined to be the ideal chromatic harp in regard to string angles, spacing etc. Donald was especially interested in playing using the European or “French” technique. So Brandden set out to design a chromic harp as Donald wanted which ended up being along the lines of the Pleyel chromatic harps including a deeply curved neck. A prototype was produced and after more consultation with Donald, modifications made and the final result has been a success. The first of this series of chromatic harps was produced on a custom basis and had not just the “Pleyel” string design but with a replica 19th Century Grecian column done in 23 karat gold leaf along with polished brass and finished in a gloss black colour. Donald reports that it is comfortable to play, suits both the “French” and “American” techniques and still has the characteristic warm resonate sound that sets Brandden’s harps above others.
To date Brandden has produced over 200 harps and as always, has more on order including additional chromatic harps