A heavenly soundPublished 10:16am Friday, July 19, 2013
Duet to perform with harps, flute at St. Olaf next week
No instrument soothes the soul quite like a harp.
The duet from Phoenix known as Heavenly Harp will play songs from their recordings and share inspiring stories beginning at 7 p.m. The performance is open to the public; free-will offerings will be accepted.
“Harp is one of the integrative therapies in hospice,” Karin said, who has been around hospice care for more than a decade and has gathered thousands of inspiring messages. “The harp regulates heart rate, blood pressure, skin temperature, electrical impulses, brain waves, hormone levels and increases the amount of oxygen in the blood. So there really is a reason it soothes King Saul.”
Karin began playing harp about 16 years ago, she said. Joy picked up the challenging craft when she was just 8 and produced her first CD at 13. Simply put, she was a prodigy. Today, the duo has seven albums and six DVDs.
“Joy passed me up when she was about 9,” Karin joked.
Karin admits, playing harp is quite the challenge. Her own instrument is a large, Celtic harp. Joy plays a concert grand pedal harp. According to Karin, that’s even more complicated, as the instrument has seven pedals and three different positions. Furthermore, Joy plays piano, organ and flute. However, playing the harp seems somewhat like “second nature,” Joy said. It’s her passion.
“I just thought it had the most beautiful sound,” she said.
During her childhood, Joy practiced with an instructor who had performed with acts such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis. Joy graduated from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., after extensively studying choir, orchestra, instruments and religion. During that time, she and her mother inadvertently started touring. It just made sense. Every year college started, the Gundersons had to transport Joy’s harp from Phoenix back to St. Olaf, so they played at churches along the way.
Now that Joy is done with college, she and her mother have gone from a couple weeks of touring to several months. The Gundersons, originally from Minnesota, are in the midst of a 100-show tour throughout America. They won’t return home until October. It’s by far their longest tour.
Like her father, however, Joy would like to direct music in church someday.
“The main thing I would like to do is be a church music director,” Joy said, “but anything can happen, I guess.”
For now, she and her mother will pound the road, stopping every so often so they can delicately pluck an elegant instrument.
For more information, contact St. Olaf Lutheran Church at 507-433-8857 or view Heavenly Harp’s website at heavenlyharp.org.