Not everyone has a music room in their house, but Rachel Van Voorhees is an exception.

Van Voorhees has played the harp for the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra for the past 41 years. She and husband Arnold Kirschman have a room set aside for her music in their Bellaire Drive residence. 

“When I moved to New Orleans in 1977, it was to play with the symphony,” she said. “I feel so lucky to have landed here.”

In reality, it was New Orleans’ good luck that Van Voorhees made the Crescent City her home. She not only plays in the orchestra, but she performs at teas at Windsor Court, weddings, funerals, graduations and birthdays. She also teaches students on one of the three harps in her music room.


Musical decor surrounds an organ in the home of LPO harpist Rachel Van Voorhees and Arnold Kirschman. The couple will open their home to host this year's Encore gala.

“It can be a little bit all-consuming,” she said.

Her devotion to the orchestra and to the LPO Volunteers group that supports it is such that when she and her husband were invited to host the “Baubles and Bubbly for Beethoven” fundraising event on the evening of Oct. 24, she accepted gladly.

“I can’t say enough about what the LPO Volunteers do for us,” Van Voorhees said. “They manage the Encore Shop that sells designer clothes to support us, and they host that fabulous book fair every year to make money for us. We couldn’t do it without them.”

Guests at the upcoming event will have the opportunity to explore the couple’s home, built about 1989 and designed by architect George Hopkins. Kirschman (a real estate developer and member of the famed New Orleans furniture family) and Van Voorhees have lived in the house for about 10 years. 

“When Arnold and I were ready to do some work on the house, of course, we contacted George,” she said. “As it turns out, his original plans for the façade had never been fulfilled completely, and we asked him to do that. He was great to work with.”


LPO harpist Rachel Van Voorhees and Arnold Kirschman sit on the back porch of their home with their poodle, Rhett.

Van Voorhees credits Hopkins with making the four-bedroom, 3-½ bath house so gracious on the interior. Dark cherry floors and elegant millwork complement the coved arches separating the downstairs rooms in lieu of cased openings or doorways. The result is a freely flowing space that works perfectly for entertaining guests, including the four grown children that Van Voorhees and Kirschman have in common.

For all the fireplaces, mantels and arches, however, the knock-out design element is the floating stairway to the second floor. It curves gracefully upward, unsupported by walls or other structural elements.

“It is so lovely,” said Van Voorhees. “More designers are doing this now, but when the house was built, it was a tour de force. We were excited when George gave us a copy of his book, ‘Creating Your Architectural Style,’ and there was our staircase.”

The couple shares their home with additional residents: Rhett and Beau, a Labradoodle and poodle, respectively.

“Rhett’s father, a standard Poodle we owned, had an illicit affair with a Lab and the result was an unintentional Labradoodle,” said Van Voorhees with a laugh.

Their garage — intended for two cars — houses four, all of them collectible.

“That’s one of Arnold’s passions. He has a Porsche, an MG, a Corvette and a fourth one that I can’t remember but wrote down in case I was asked,” Van Voorhees said. “I have my harps and he has his cars — that’s why we get along so well.”


Baubles and Bubbly for Beethoven

6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Oct. 24

$50 and up

(504) 861-9028,