Lori Pappajohn and harp in field of orange flowers with tree.

My Story

How It Started

Someone once joked that as a journalist I could write a book about myself as a performer, recording artist, composer and booking agent. I think they are right.

I have lugged my harp, flute, luggage and costumes through numerous countries, playing in Britain, South America, Greece, the US and Canada. I have rolled my harp down the busy streets of London, crammed it into subways, taxis and trains -- and during one memorable flight on a small Canadian jet, my harp would fit in only if the hockey team's beer was thrown out. I wasn't very popular on that flight.

The harping part of my life (I already played flute and piano) started when a friend received a scholarship to the world-famous Royal Academy of Music in England. I went along, sharing a flat, going to some of the classes taught by some of the world's greatest musicians. On a whim I decided that maybe I should try the harp -- and I've never looked back.

While there my harp/flute duo performed at Covent Garden and in some of Britain's historical churches, including the magnificent Lincoln Cathedral and St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

Returning to Vancouver, I was struck with the thought that most people have no idea how fun and versatile the harp can be. The harp is one of civilization's oldest instruments. There are harps from Arabia, Japan, China, Africa and Siberia -- to name a few. And harp music varies from classical to rock. There's a San Francisco harpist who plays Jimi Hendrix meaner than Jimi ever hoped to play.

So I founded a harp trio with about as diverse a musical show as you could imagine. Harps International played everything from classical to Celtic, country western, jazz and flamenco. And we had lots of comedy from one of the harpist who had toured with Monty Python.

So popular was the show that the trio was taken on by one of western Canada's largest agents. In one year alone, we travelled as far north as the Yukon, as far south as the tip of Chile -- and from Vancouver Island in the west to Cape Breton Island in the east.

We also toured for Community Concerts, a division of the famed Columbia Artists. Within two years of being founded, Harps International became Canada's premier harp ensemble and even subbed for the New York Harp Ensemble and for an act that featured the grandson of Harpo Marx.

A few years later Harps International was invited to perform for the three most prestigious events in the harp world -- the World Harp Congress, the International Folk Harp Conference and the Jazz and Pop Harp Conference. These events showcase Who's Who of the harp world.

In those early years, my newly-released album Celtic Harp for Christmas became the top-selling album for its North American distribution companies and was sold in stores around the world.

Did I mention that all this happened in the first five years of my harping career? It was pretty amazing. And right around then my friend Alan Woodland and I founded Winter Harp -- a breathtakingly-beautiful show that we've toured each December since 1993.

Highlights of my career include performing in small communities in Canada's far north and in Chile's far south where people had never seen harps before -- and in one case where they had never had a live concert before. Their gratitude was overwhelming.

All these years later I still can't believe how lucky I am to play the harp. Music is a gift and I feel that as musicians our mission is to share this gift. Through music we give people laughter, a chance to smile and a chance to reflect on life and its pathways. This is why we play.

Harp in the Rocky Mountains with Rams
Rocky Mountain Tour.

Harp in the Yukon with dog sled and huskies.
Dog sledding on our Yukon Tour.

Lori Pappjohn and her harp performing ancient Greek music in Delphi.
Performing ancient Greek music in Delphi.