Harp carries earthy themes
Roger Helfrick has never had any official training when it comes to his singing or harp playing‚ but catch him playing at the MACoustic Folk Club on Friday and you’ll likely be surprised.
Helfrick was the lead vocalist for the acclaimed Winter Harp show last year (and a guest performer for the two years previous) where he toured around performing to sold out shows around B.C. including Nanaimo’s Port Theatre. In the 2012 show, he played the plucked psaltery and celtic lever harp as well as sang Christmas and winter-themed songs. Helfrick is also skilled at playing the medieval harp as well as the guitar and recorder.
He’ll be performing at the MACoustic Folk Club, Friday, Jan. 18 at the McMillan Arts Centre (the MAC) in Parksville.
Helfrick bought his first harp in 1993, when he was taking Celtic studies in Nova Scotia.
“While I was there I thought, Oh, I’m going to buy a harp,” he said. “Everyone had guitars and pianos and stuff and not everyone had a harp.”
Growing up in Northern Alberta, Helfrick said there weren’t many harps around. But he knew one woman who had one, and thought it was pretty neat, he said. He taught himself how to play the instrument and now it’s his main performance companion.
Although he’s never had singing lessons either, he’s worked with a lot of trained singers, he said.
“I sang with a number of really excellent choirs and I had some good friends who were vocal teachers — it’s more just singing a great deal and singing with various groups and just learning.”
Director of Winter Harp, Lori Pappajohn has been quoted praising Helrick’s vocal ability highly. “In all my years as a musician, I have only heard a few such gorgeous voices. Roger’s singing is like velvet.”
Helfrick, who is now based in Courtenay, has released three albums over the years and is working on releasing another this year, as well possibly releasing a Christmas/winter themed CD.
His performance at the MAC will carry a theme of elements: earth, fire, water and air. He said he will perform some of his own compositions, including some for harp and some vocalizations, as well as some songs from around Europe and Japan that relate to his theme.
The first half of the MACoustic Folk Club is open stage and the second half will feature Helfrick.
The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $5 at the door. Visit www.mcmillanartscentre.com or call 250-248-8185 for more information. Visit www.rogerhelfrick.ca for more on Helfrick.