Try being a lone female vocalist when, suddenly, 50 baritones, tenors and basses directly behind you break into "O Holy Night. " "It's like being caught on a big wave, like a surfer...
Try being a lone female vocalist when, suddenly, 50 baritones, tenors and basses directly behind you break into “O Holy Night.”
“It’s like being caught on a big wave, like a surfer. There you go,” said Katherine Journey. “A lot of people are moved by that song. It’s symbolic of what Christmas is all about.”
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Journey sang the hymn with the Wenatchee Apollo Club Men’s Chorus this month with her husband, harpist Bronn Journey. From all reports, the timbre of deep voices combined with her high soprano raised a few goose bumps.
“Katherine does the solo, and she was kind of shocked by the power of the Apollo Club,” chorus conductor Ed Sand said.
The chorus will reprise that concert with Bronn and Katherine Journey at 7:30 tonight at the Everett Performing Arts Center. The Journeys’ show, “Christmas … and More,” will feature guest artists tomorrow night, too.
Bronn Journey will perform on his 47-string blue electric harp both nights. He’ll do Christmas songs and selections from his new compact disc, “Reflections,” billed as “songs of quiet inspiration,” including a harp version of Frank Mills’ “Music Box Dancer.”
He’ll play a Canadian instrumental called “The Homecoming,” David Foster’s “The Prayer,” Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and other songs. Katherine Journey sings and plays keyboards.
The “More” part of the two-hour program is impressive: The Wenatchee Apollo Club Men’s Chorus will close the second half of tonight’s concert with five holiday numbers, including “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”
Tomorrow, the scheduled guest artists are cellist Diane Tremaine, Scottish fiddle champion Susan Burke, woodwind virtuoso Robert Puff and Ben Rudd, who plays an African percussion instrument called the djembe.
Founded in 1910, the Wenatchee Apollo Club Men’s Chorus is the oldest continuously operating men’s chorus in the state. Bronn Journey teamed up with it seven years ago for concerts on both sides of the mountains, and a mutual-admiration society has existed ever since.
“Their strength is entertaining the crowd,” Journey said. “When I look out into the audience when they’re singing, everyone is listening with a smile.”
Conductor Sand called Journey “a true showman, a wonderful artist on the harp.”
“How he phrases music he always has his own style, and he has such a wonderful musical feel for what he’s playing,” Sand said. “That’s why we get along so well.”
Composed of doctors, lawyers, teachers, truckers and lots of apple growers, the chorus rehearses every Tuesday night. Sand has been its conductor since 1960, leading the chorus at international festivals and at the Seattle and Spokane world’s fairs.
Sand, who writes many of the chorus’ arrangements, believes its endurance comes from “pride” and “brotherly camaraderie.”
Musically, Journey has pushed the boundaries of harp repertoire. His next-to-last CD was a Beatles anthology, and he picks guest artists from among the people who cross his path “in our musical lives,” he said.
“My crowd [his audience] is so nice that they connect with everybody. It’s like bringing a friend to your house and introducing them. If they’re your friend, they’re your friend’s friend also.”
Journey performs about 200 concerts a year, including many benefits, and with a mailing list of more than 12,000 people, his concerts tend to sell out.
“People say, ‘I’m surprised you can make the harp sound that way,’ ” he said. “They think of it as angelic.”
Diane Wright: 425-745-7815 or firstname.lastname@example.org