Winter Harp festival set to celebrate the Christmas season with music and instruments

Winter Harp

Photo courtesy of Winter Harp

The Christmas season can often be long and tiring, especially with stores showing off their festive wares immediately after Thanksgiving.

One way to get back in touch with the spirit of Christmas is to attend a world-class Christmas festival such as Winter Harp.

Started 18 years ago by Lori Pappajohn in a small New Westminster church, the ensemble has grown, and earned consistent sold-out concerts and standing ovations throughout Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest.

Pappajohn was one of the key organizers of Vancouver’s 2011 World Harp Congress which subsequently became the world’s largest harp festival.

As well as producing nine CDs and appearing on CBC Radio and television, Pappajohn was nominated in 2008 for the B.C. Touring Artist of the Year.

She has also been the recipient of the Bernie Legge Cultural Award for her outstanding contribution to the arts.

One will not find Winter Harp’s musical instruments on a rock band’s stage at the Orpheum. Harps, flutes, medieval instruments, bells, chimes and hand drums are played to produce heart-warming Christmas carols with Celtic, Latin and medieval influences.

Pappajohn lists a number of unique and rare instruments which originated from countries worldwide and with names that most of us likely don’t recognize.

Of course we have heard of stringed instruments such as the pedal and Celtic harps, but as Pappajohn mentions, the festival will feature many other instruments, too.

Lori Pappajohn

Harpist and founder of Winter Harp,Lori PappajohnPhoto courtesy of Winter Harp

“Winter Harp also has performers who play the nyckelharpa and bass psaltery along with the organistrum – the latter two are both forerunners of the hurdy gurdy.”

Wind instruments are also played, such as the symphonie and flute along with the wooden piccolo and recorder – percussion instruments include drums, tambourines and temple bells.

The vocal aspect of this year’s festival will encompass poetry, songs and stories which, judging by previous reviews, have resulted in audiences being mesmerized by the beauty, sounds and heart-warming professionalism of the musicians and singers.

A majority of this year’s performers were born in North America, but most have ancestral routes from around the world.

Narrator of this year’s festival, Patrick Ball, is himself a performer.

“Ball is considered one of the premier wire-strung Celtic harpers and spoken word artists in the world today,” explains Pappajohn. “I first saw [him] perform at the Rogue Folk Club in the 1990s … he was absolutely mesmerizing.”

Listening to Pappajohn’s description of Winter Harp, one cannot help but notice that she herself is still enthralled with the concert even after almost two decades of playing, singing and directing the festival.

“[It’s]… a feast for the eyes to enjoy the costumes, unique instruments and the heart warming vocals of medieval songs and poems,” says Pappajohn.

“It all brings back childhood memories and allows people to go back in time to remember their [ancestors] of long ago,” she says.

Warm your heart this December 17 at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church. The show starts at 7:30 p.m.

To purchase tickets, call Tickets Tonight at 604-684-2787.
You can also visit, Zulu Records and Celtic Creations.

In case the above performance is sold out, other Lower Mainland concerts take place on Dec. 14–15 at the North Shore Credit Union Centre for the Performing Arts (Capilano University) and Dec. 18 at The ACT Theatre in Maple Ridge.