Harp & Holly is a five-piece Celtic-Baroque-Roots group that celebrates Christmas with song and story in a fun and inclusive way. Their signature sound is created by interweaving ancient carols with fresh rhythms, lively jigs and reels, tight vocal harmonies and ever-changing instrumental combinations.
With song and story, our concerts toast the Christmas season in a fun and inclusive way. Our goal is to express and celebrate the full range of emotions we all feel during the holiday season, regardless of religious beliefs. We find humour and inspiration in family traditions, childhood memories and historical customs.
With Celtic-Roots and Baroque influences, we interweave ancient carols with fresh rhythms, tight vocal harmonies and ever-changing instrumental combinations. We showcase each member’s musical artistry and storytelling craft throughout our performances, creating a wide variety of textures and moods that celebrate joy, hope and togetherness.
“An exceptional concert with great stage presence, intriguing vocals and brilliant musicianship. This group is amazing. Not only was I enthralled with the musicianship of their performance – I never stopped smiling throughout the concert.”
Louise Dockstader, Clinton United Church Music Series
The group’s members come from all across Southern Ontario. Each performs with other musical groups throughout the year but makes a special effort each Christmas season to come together like a family. They share a special chemistry that audiences feel immediately.
The centrepiece of their sound is the virtuosic flair of Sharlene Wallace, one of Canada's most prolific and influential Celtic harpists. She is joined by former Tanglefoot bandmates Terry Young on fingerstyle guitar, Rob Ritchie on keyboard and Sandra Swannell on fiddle and viola. Singer Juanita Wilkins adds her powerful contralto voice to their exciting four-part harmonies.
“An extraordinary evening of musical magic, weaving traditional Christmas and holiday fare with timeless Celtic rhythms along with some warm personal tales of Christmas. Harp & Holly is very special group of musicians all of whom complement each other’s talents wonderfully.”
Rev. Dr. J. Peter Holmes, Yorkminster Park Baptist Church, Toronto
Celtic-Lever Harp, Concert Harp
Sharlene Wallace is one of Canada's most prolific and influential Celtic/lever harpists. Winner of two international competitions, the Lyon & Healy International Pop & Jazz Lever Harp Competition (Tucson, Arizona) and the Concours d'Improvisation de Rencontres Internationales de Harpe Celtique (Dinan, France), Sharlene has created 7 independent CDs, and tours internationally giving concerts, workshops, masterclasses and adjudications. Sharlene is on the music faculties of Wilfred Laurier University, University of Guelph and York University teaching both Classical/pedal and lever/Celtic harps. Her own performance degree is from the University of Toronto where she studied with the eminent Judy Loman, O.C.. Sharlene is Principal Harpist with the Guelph, Kingston, and Oakville Symphonies.
Terry Young's fingerstyle guitar wizardry has astounded audiences across Canada, USA and Great Britain. BBC critic James Harrox calls his playing "virtuosic", while FATEA magazine describes it as "jaw dropping". Terry tours extensively with the contemporary ragtime band "My Sweet Patootie" and is a Canadian Folk Music Award winner. He teaches advanced fingerstyle guitar clinics and has written about his techniques for Chicago's Plank Road Folk Music Society Magazine. He is a talented multi-instrumentalist who toured for more than a decade with the swashbuckling roots group "Tanglefoot", performing on guitar, mandolin, banjo and whistle. He is a classically trained tenor who holds a Bachelor of Music from the University of Western Ontario.
Fiddle, Viola, Alto
Sandra Swannell is a violinist, violist and singer-songwriter from Woodford Ontario who spends most of her year touring with "My Sweet Patootie", performing in a vintage ragtime/swing style. She has a diverse musical life that ranges from writing a series of musical sketches for string orchestra to recording with Canada's legendary Stompin' Tom Connors. Before joining the award winning Canadian roots group "Tanglefoot" in 2005, she was the principal violist of the Georgian Bay Symphony and fiddler with the Celtic art-rock band "The Shards". Sandra has taught violin/ viola clinics for festivals, schools and community orchestras as well as in her own private studio.
A storyteller fluent in many genres, Rob Ritchie has been a contributing songwriter for folk/roots bands Tanglefoot and RPR (rprmusic.com), and works regularly as a commissioned composer for the Wiarton Concert Choir. He released a solo CD Five O'Clock Shadow (2004), and has had two literary novels published (Orphans of Winter, 2006; In a Company of Fiddlers, (2011).
In September 2019 Rob released his third novel A Song With No Words. In his latest book Ritchie draws on his 25 plus years as a touring musician to blur the lines of truth and fiction, taking readers on a journey exploring the inner-workings of a band as its members travel, tour and perform.
Juanita Wilkins is a Singer/Songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Clifford Ontario. Wilkins has released two full-length recordings of original material, Stronger and Four Corner Town. As well as performing as a solo act showcasing her insightful and catchily melodic song writing, she fronts Lyndenwood, a classic rock & country band and is half of a power duet with April Wine alumnus David Henman.
2019 brings Wilkins’ warm and humourous stage presence and her powerful, beautiful voice to the Harp & Holly stage for the first time.