Amazing Women of the Suncoast: Bonnie Caplan

SARASOTA, Fla. -- This week's Amazing Woman of the Suncoast is harpist Bonnie Caplan. With her golden harp, she brings added joy to happy occasions, and eases the pain of sad occasions.

Caplan fell in love with the harp the first time she heard one. "At 9 years old I went to a movie in Lincoln, Nebraska with my cousin, and the Marx Brother’s Go West was showing…the sound was magnetic."

And from then on the harp became a major part of her life. "I started playing professionally when I was with the Lincoln Symphony."

She met her husband while studying with the Chicago Symphony. "We met at the cocktail party for Gene Krupa, and 3 months later we were married."

She moved to Maryland. "And my husband and I ran 4 retail music stores."

They had two children: Byron, now a news videographer in New Orleans; and Sharon, a ballet dancer, now a yoga instructor.

She's performed with some pretty famous people. "Four years with Steve and Edie (Gorme), Bernadette Peters, Johnny Mathis, Barry Manilow, Peter Cetera, Shena Easton."

She also played for more than 2000 weddings. "I've encountered 2 snakes for the outdoor wedding, and some grandchildren who were throwing rocks at me."

And she volunteers to play at the new Sarasota National Cemetery and for the Hospice unit at Bay Pines. "I don't know how many people realize the power of music. It’s very powerful, very comforting, and calming…especially the harp."

And she has total gratitude for the joy music brings her; for being able to share that joy with others. "Music gives so much to people. It brings back happy memories. Very fortunate to impart beautiful sounds and memories to people."

Caplan's golden harp weighs 82 pounds, but wherever the two of them go together, they make beautiful music and they make the world a little better place.

You can hear her play at the Chianti Restaurant at 3900 Clark Road every Thursday.