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Winter Harp starting people's Christmas for two decades
Winter Harp founder and director Lori Pappajohn started playing her harp and flute in a little old Victorian house for a Christmas parlour concert many years ago.
"People just loved it and I thought, 'Let's try something bigger.' We did a church and we filled that church. And the next year we went bigger, and it just got bigger and bigger. It's been phenomenal."
Nineteen years later, Winter Harp plays in fourteen locations, five of which are on Vancouver Island. Pappajohn said the show is a tradition for many.
"People tell us Winter Harp starts their Christmas. We've had people coming for 15 years. One woman stopped me on a street corner and said it changed her life."
Pappajohn said the unique instruments, like the rare wire-strung Irish harp and the world's only bass psaltery, and elaborate staging transports the audience to a different place before the musicians even walk on the stage.
"There are gorgeous and intricately carved medieval instruments you just won't see anywhere else. We have these backdrops that are absolutely stunning. You are sent back to another time and era, in a magical world. It's the visual that's as magical as the music."
Pappajohn thinks one of the reasons the harp resonates so deeply with the audience is that it's one of the oldest instruments that hasn't changed.
"When you hear a harp plucked today, it's similar to the sound it made 4,000 years ago. It evokes a totally different way of listening to music. You sit and listen to a trumpet. With a harp, you have to lean forward. It's just reaches further down inside of us."
Pappajohn said the music gets people into the Christmas spirit. The haunting nostalgic music reminds people of the joy of Christmases past.
"I think for all of us Christmas is about the memories. We remember the kids and presents under the tree. When we play, we look out at those faces and you know every single one of those faces has their own special memory."
This year's special guest is Courtenay-based singer and musician Roger Helfrick, about whom Pappajohn couldn't say enough.
"His sound is pure gold. It takes you to another era."
What Winter Harp
When: Sunday, Dec 9 at 2 p.m.
Where: Cowichan Theatre.
Tickets: $35 at the Cowichan Ticket Centre. Call 250-748-7529 or on line at www.cowichantheatre.bc.ca