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Harpist attracts attention in all kinds of ways
by: Gwen Pawlikowski
When Lori Pappajohn pulls her luggage through the airports of Western Canada this Christmas season, people will notice and stare.
They always do.
Her suitcases just don’t conform to the usual standards. The custom-designed boxes are huge and oddly-shaped. Airport officials in Mexico once asked (jokingly) if she kept a husband inside. She smiled.
Actually, her boxes hold harps. The husband answer makes a better punchline, it’s true, but it takes longer to get through the airport.
Serving as the object of stares in airports is just one of the occupational hazards Pappajohn faces as a professional harpist. Add bags of thick, velvet costumes and you can see another hazard: no light travel. She gave that up when she opted to abandon playing her flute in order to perform on harp. Now, there is no ducking on the plane with a carry-on and scooting out after landing. No. Have harps. Must go to the special West Jet wicket for the fragile items.
All this heavy travel through the airport is quite a different picture from the light and airy music that flows from the mix of fingers and strings as she performs with the six-member Winter Harp group this Christmas season. The transcendent cadences created from ancient instruments flutter into an audience’s ears and then their hearts. Pappajohn says the music strikes a different chord for every person, somehow related to each person’s individual memories of Christmas. She’s received countless emails thanking her for their music. The messages often also include the words “changed my life” somewhere in the body of the text. What happens? I ask. She doesn’t know.
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