Members of Winter Harp perform medieval and sacred music at Nanaimo’s Port Theatre every year

Harps create annual tradition

A Christmas tradition for Nanaimo families continues with two performances by Winter Harp

A Christmas tradition for Nanaimo families continues with two performances by Winter Harp.

The world-class medieval music ensemble performs a concert of heartwarming carols, songs and stories in celebration of the Christmas and winter season at the Port Theatre Dec. 10 at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

The musicians, dressed in medieval attire, perform a haunting collection of music from well-known carols to Celtic, medieval, world and Spanish. Dozens of candles light the stage providing a backdrop for the golden Celtic and classical harps, drums, tambourines, temple bells, flutes and an assortment of rare 12th-century instruments.

Rare instruments include the ethereal-sounding bass psaltery (the only one like it in the world), the symphonie (medieval ancestor of the hurdy-gurdy) and the nyckelharpa.

In celebration of its 18th touring season, legendary harper/storyteller Patrick Ball will join the ensemble as this year’s special guest.

Ball is considered one of the premier wire-strung Celtic harpers and spoken word artists in the world today. He recorded nine instrumental and three spoken word albums, winning national awards.

“I first saw Patrick perform at the Rogue Folk Club in the 1990s,” said Winter Harp director Lori Pappajohn. “He was absolutely mesmerizing. Since then I have always hoped to work with him.”

Ball will join the ensemble as narrator and harper. Also joining the ensemble this year is Courtenay resident and baritone Roger Helfrick.

“His singing is gorgeous,” said Pappajohn. “He tells the song’s story so simply and beautifully. Once you hear his voice, you will want to hear none other.”

A pre-show chat is scheduled prior to the matinee at 2:45 p.m. in the Harmac Room.

Tickets are $40; $34/members; $15/students. Please call 250-754-8550 or visit

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