Sunday, December 23, 2007

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Hear Winter Harp on the Radio!

On December 21, 2007 you can hear Winter Harp from the comfort of your own home. Light a fire, sit in your favorite chair, put your feet up and let us entertain you close up.

Winter Harp will be broadcast Friday, Dec. 21 at 8 p.m. (mountain time) on CKUA Radio in Alberta. For those outside of Alberta, you can catch the broadcast on your computer at

The broadcast was recorded during the Winter Harp concert Dec. 10 at Horizon Stage Theatre in Spruce Grove, near Edmonton. CKUA will broadcast one hour of the two-hour concert.

CKUA can be heard on the below radio frequencies throughout the province of Alberta, or through the StarChoice satellite system on channel 828 throughout Canada, or through the station's Windows Media stream worldwide

AM Band: Province-wide, Alberta 580 AM
FM Band: Athabasca 98.3 FM
Calgary 93.7 FMDrumheller/Hanna 91.3 FMEdmonton 94.9 FM
Fort McMurray 96.7 FMGrande Prairie 100.9 FMHinton 102.5 FMLethbridge 99.3 FMLloydminster 97.5 FMMedicine Hat 97.3 FMPeace River 96.9 FMRed Deer 107.7 FM

Winter Harp and the Vancouver Welsh Men’s Choir

This December Winter Harp once again had the honor of performing with the Vancouver Welsh Men’s Choir. What an amazing concert that was.

It was such a thrill for us to be seated with our instruments right in front of 90 men singing their hearts out. These guys have so much enthusiasm, that Massey Theatre was bursting at the seams with their joy. When these guys sing -- and you are sitting 2 feet away, as we were, -- it’s the most incredible sound experience -- this wall of thundering male voices enfolding and enrapturing.

The choir conductor, Jonathan Quick, is brilliant, as is their pianist David Buchan. Both are wonderful to work with.

Massey Theatre in New Westminster was so full that extra chairs had to be brought in to accommodate the crowd. The theatre was one of the best venues Winter Harp has played in this season -- and the Royal City should be proud to have such a place.

Eleven year-old Sarah Quinn performs here
with harpists Lori Pappajohn and Janelle Nadeau in the song Away in a

A highlight of the evening was 11 year-old Sarah Quinn of New Westminster who sang a Polish lullaby with the choir. The story of this lullaby is as follows: In December 1939, 5,000 prisoners, most of them Polish, were marched by their Russian captors through the Siberian winter to labor camps. They walked 800 miles handcuffed to chains attached to trucks.
Somehow someone learned during the second week of the march that it was Christmas Eve. A prisoner started singing Holy Night. One after another, the prisoners joined in the song, the volume and intensity sweeping up the line of men. Then a few voices started the Polish carol Jesus’ Lullaby. But the bittersweet memories of Christmases past -- of family and friends -- seized the men. They broke down weeping. The singing stopped and the march along the cold, frozen road continued in a heartbreaking silence.

When little Sarah Quinn sang this song, along with the choir, harps, flute and violin, there was hardly a dry eye in the house.

We truly enjoyed our evening with the Welsh Men’s Choir -- and we hope to perform again with them next Christmas.

Sarah Quinn receives flowers after her stunning performance with Winter Harp and the Vancouver Welsh Men'sChoir.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Holly McFadden

At our concert Dec. 12 at Capilano College, we had a special request to play a song for Holly McFadden. Here is what we said at the concert:

There was woman named Holly McFadden. She was born and raised here in North Vancouver. She loved Celtic music and loved the harp. And her birthday was today. Only she is not here -- because in June she was tragically killed. But 16 of her friends have come tonight to this concert as a way of celebrating Holly’s birthday and to celebrate her life.

Holly, as you might guess, had a holly collection, and she loved songs about Holly. So, her friends asked that we sing a carol about holly. We chose Deck the Halls -- but not the usual words -- the old, rarely sung, words.

There is an old Irish saying that right now, during the Days of Christmas, the gates of heaven are open wide.

Here is our memorial to Holly -- the carol Deck the Halls:

Soon the old year will leave us
fal la la la la
But the parting must not grieve us
fal la la la la
When the New Year comes tomorrow
fal la la la la la
Let him find no trace of sorrow
fal la la la la
At His birth he brings us gladness
fal la la la la
Ponder not on future sadness
fal la la la la
Anxious care is now but folly
fal la la la la
Strike the harp and hang the holly
fal la la la la

Happy Birthday Holly

Friday, December 14, 2007

Winter Harp in Japanese!

For those of you who speak Japanese, here is an article on Winter Harp in the Minkei Newspaper



I don’t want Winter Harp to be held responsible, but . . . .

Just about every time we have done a concert this year, it has snowed.
Take for instance Whitehorse in September. The Yukon was having a glorious fall -- gorgeous fall colors, beautiful blue skies -- and then Winter Harp arrived. Within a day, it went from fall to winter. A biting wind, driving snow, fall colors buried and snow piling up.

Our next big concert was Nov. 24 in Winnipeg. Up until then, Winnipeg had been enjoying a beautiful fall -- gorgeous fall colors, beautiful blue skies -- until along came Winter Harp. Just before we arrived, autumn checked out, winter checked in and the snow arrived.

Well, certainly we’d be okay at our next concert -- Sechelt Dec. 2. Wrong. That day a wild snow storm swept in with high winds and pouring snow. And autumn fled from the lovely Sunshine Coast -- leaving winter to reign supreme.

Dec. 9 wasn’t any better. Winter Harp was schedule to perform in Edmonton. That morning it started snowing here in Vancouver and the performers barely made it to the airport because of the treacherous road conditions and the many accidents.

Then came Dec. 13 and our concert at Capilano College. Snowing again.

We have 6 concerts left -- PLEASE -- wish us luck. Really, the snow is not our fault.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


To say that the Winnipeg concert was a smashing success would be an understatement. Besides getting a VERY enthusiastic standing ovation and playing an encore - the near capacity audience at the Pantages theatre just wouldn't let us leave the stage! The event was just so wonderful to do. It was one of the most pleasant concerts Winter Harp has ever put on, and a large part of this is thanks to Janelle's wonderful family who did all the ground work and preparation.

Upon arrival we were treated like rock stars as we were wisked away from the airport in a long stretch limousine that took us directly to the first rate hotel.

The Pantages theatre is a large old theatre similar to the Orpheum, elaborately decorated with gilded plaster and heavy velvet curtains.

The sound and light men at the theatre were first rate professionals of the highest caliber, and the entire show went off without a hitch.

We had a cute as a bug reader named Kendra do a short reading during the ethereal Gaelic Carol number.

The next day Lori and I drove out to visit Janelle's parent's farm.

Even with the blowing snow one very quickly gets a sense of the vastness of the prairies.

Janelle's mom Rachelle cooked us up a hearty lunch which couldn't be beat - a wonderful quiche and for dessert fresh fruit crepes! After lunch we took a tour of the farm. It is truly an impressive operation which offered quite a lot of insight into the components which literally make up our daily bread. It's always fascinating to see the process right from the ground up, and the machinery and equipment required to make food of the quality and low price which we are so fortunate to have is also astonishing.

Huge harvestors as tall as a house, massive tractors, and all the related machines and installations to process and sift grains and seeds and package them. It was really a very interesting and amazing tour, and Lori and I even got to sit in one of the gigantic harvestors which Janelle and her sister drive around in during harvest season. Driving these massively powerful machines is really quite a startling contrast to the delicacy of playing a harp, but the members of Winter Harp lead very interesting and sometimes quite unexpected lives outside of the performance season.

It also was reassuring to know that food which is grown in Canada is safe. It's very, very, safe.

WestJet did their usual fabulous job of getting all our gear back and forth in one piece, and they are always so pleasant to deal with, even when we show up with mountains of oversized flight cases. This is what Winter Harp looks like at the airport:

We are all looking forward to visiting Winnepeg again, it was such a great way to start the Winter Harp season. You can bet we will be back!

Fans From Afar

In September, Lori Pappajohn had a call from a Barb Elco in Arizona. Barb said she had Winter Harp’s CDs and LOVED our music. Would Winter Harp consider performing in Arizona? she asked. Lori laughed: “We’d love to,” she replied. “But Arizona is pretty far way.”Then, just as an afterthought, Lori added: “Why don’t you come see Winter Harp in Canada? You could make it a Christmas holiday weekend. And there is no better place to be at Christmas than Victoria -- it is so beautifully decorated and is so magical. So why not come hear us in Victoria?”
Barb said she just might.

Lori didn’t think anything more of the conversation until the day of the Victoria concert. And then she thought: “Wow! What if Barb and her husband Jim ARE in the audience? We should do something nice for them.”

So Winter Harp bought a box of Victoria’s famous Roger’s Chocolates (established in 1885). During the show, Lori announced that two fans had come all the way from Arizona and that Winter Harp had some special chocolates for them which they could come and get after the concert. But, much to Lori’s surprise, Barb and Jim leaped to their feet (they were on the 3rd row) and came up on stage. Lori had no idea, up until this point, as to what they looked like -- or if they had even come. But there they were -- and they were dressed perfectly for the event. Both of them were in gorgeous medieval attire. They looked stunning!

Turning to the audience, Lori said: “Well, now you see how the audience should dress for Winter Harp -- we expect to see you all appropriately attired next year.” It was great to meet Barb and Jim -- and it was wonderful they chose to come all the way to Victoria to see Winter Harp.

By the way, when we do concerts in the United States, audience members quite often come in medieval attired -- especially in Mount Vernon. We love it. It’s such a gift for us to look out on the audience and see people in these outrageously gorgeous outfits.

So -- there is a challenge to you Canadians -- don’t be shy -- feel free to come to our concerts in your most beautiful medieval or renaissance frills and frocks.

Barb Elco (far left) and husband Jim (far right) pose with Winter Harp in Victoria.
The couple travelled all the way from Arizona just to hear Winter Harp in concert.

A Grueling Day

When you go to a Winter Harp concert and watch the musicians walk on stage, you would never dream what they sometimes have to go through to get there.

Dec. 9 was such a day. Lori Pappajohn woke up at 7:30 a.m. to see snow falling outside. Oh no. Winter Harp was flying to Edmonton that day -- out of Abbotsford -- and as we Vancouverites know, if it is snowing in Vancouver, it is often blizzarding in Abbotsford.

Lori quickly called everyone and told them to leave early for the airport. Joaquin left first. When he was half way to Abbotsford (around 176th St.), he called Lori to say the road was a sheet of ice and everyone was spinning out. He watched in horror as several vehicles in front of him spun out of control, slid into the ditch and rolled several times. The freeway was almost at a standstill. At this rate, he’d never make the plane, and neither would the band members who were still behind him. Lori was at home manning the phones and Joaquin asked her to call the other band members and warn them of the treacherous road conditions. Lori kept calling members to get their locations and to calculate at the rate of speed they were going, if they’d make the plane. The morning quickly turned into a race against snow, ice, accidents and a plane that was about to take off. Then a radio station announced that both the east and west-bound freeway lanes were closed. Wow! That meant Winter Harp wouldn’t get to Edmonton for its concert that night. One member was already in Edmonton -- harpist Sharlene Wallace. Lori called her -- “can you do Winter Harp as a solo act tonight?” she half jested.

By now Lori had called WestJet several times and had the entire band on standby for a later flight, if necessary, which would get them into Edmonton just in time for the concert -- by the skin of their teeth.

While Joaquin was seeing people driving into the ditch, the band members who were farther behind him on the road, were seeing the ambulances -- and in one case a helicopter -- taking the injured away.

Then, miracles of miracles, a salt truck went by. And the roads got much better. Suddenly the freeway was moving. The eastbound lanes weren’t closed as the radio had reported. And before long Winter Harp members found themselves at the airport just in time for their flight.

What a relief that was. However, the fun didn’t end. Landing in Edmonton they couldn’t find one of their instruments -- the beautiful bass psaltery. It was no where. They waited and waited at the luggage claim, but no psaltery arrived.

Finally it was found hooked up on a conveyor belt in the bowels of the airport.
Then the band discovered that the 2 vans they rented weren’t working properly. One -- the seats wouldn’t go down. Joaquin and Lauri tried again and again in the freezing cold, to get the seats to go down so the instruments could fit in. No luck. The other van, the sliding door wouldn’t close all the way, so the wind howled in. And these were brand new vehicles. So, that took a while to sort out and get a new van.

Arriving at the theatre, now late, they had a grueling sound check, as it was hard to get a good sound on the harps -- it is ALWAYS hard to get a good sound check on the harps.
Then suddenly it was 20 minutes before curtain time. The performers wolfed down supper, made themselves beautiful and walked out on stage.

They had all been up since 7 a.m., had a grueling day with little rest and then walked out and played the show. But something magical happens when you walk out on stage. All the hassles and challenges of the day roll off your back -- they stay back stage. And when you walk out -- and see all those faces in the audiences, it’s like the day has begun anew, and is beautiful and full of magic.