Warm voices for cold times

Their winter repertoire includes some of the most joyful music ever written on Dec. 16 in Chilliwack

Winter Harp is at the Cultural Centre on Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m.

The magical experience of Winter Harp returns to the Chilliwack Cultural Centre Dec. 16, filling the HUB International Theatre with music, passion, and memories of Christmas past.

After all, Winter Harp is so much more than a performance – the players are a vision in magnificent medieval costumes, all flowing sleeves and vibrant cloth. Set against breath-taking painted backgrounds of snow, cathedral windows, and classical stonemasonry, the experience returns audiences to a simpler time – transporting listeners from hectic December schedules into shining holiday memories of childhood and the pure spirit of the holidays.

Carols and other classic winter tunes spring to life from harp and drum, treating audience members to another world with ancient and rarely-seen instruments: two musicians play the beautifully obscure organistrum, an ornately carved distant relative of the hurdy-gurdy. Another charms warm notes from a deep-voiced bass psaltery: five feet tall, 35-stringed, and the only one of its kind in the world. With thrilling harmonies and soothing narration, the musicians draw their audience deep into the heart of winter – a journey to the centre of holiday spirit

“There are a lot of memories wrapped up in Christmas. There’s a lot of joy, and sometimes there’s sorrow,” Winter Harp’s Lori Pappajohn says. Her voice is hushed, and softly passionate. “People remember their childhoods, or parents who may no longer be with them. These are the memories often stirred at our concerts – the winters they will never forget.”

Their winter repertoire includes some of the most joyful music ever written, and it’s clear in this passionate and ardent display that shines from the stage and pours from Winter Harp’s master musicians.

“I wanted to share the beauty and exuberance of this music with others on instruments rarely heard – namely harps and rare medieval instruments,” Lori says.

“As time marches forward, much of the past is forgotten – and this includes music. There are hundreds of carols that have been forgotten,” she continues. “When I come across an almost-forgotten carol I cherish the fact that I have found it and that I’m able to give it a voice – so that, at least for now, it is not lost in the mists of time.”

Time and passion are in every aspect of Winter Harp’s performance. The costumes, designed by Lori and sewn by a dedicated dressmaker, pair with backdrops that are the culmination of months of design and detailed work. Everything comes to life in the gentle glow of candles onstage, creating a breath-taking pre-Raphaelite diorama and transporting audiences into the memories of Christmas past.