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Sister act: Sibling sopranos share philharmonic stage


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Columbus natives and sisters Marja Harmon and Chasten Harmon, shown, will perform Saturday with the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic in ''Live From New York!''
SUBMITTED PHOTO
Columbus natives and sisters Marja Harmon and Chasten Harmon, shown, will perform Saturday with the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic in ''Live From New York!'' SUBMITTED PHOTO

Columbus natives and sisters Marja Harmon, shown, and Chasten Harmon will perform Saturday with the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic in ''Live From New York!''
SUBMITTED PHOTO
Columbus natives and sisters Marja Harmon, shown, and Chasten Harmon will perform Saturday with the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic in ''Live From New York!'' SUBMITTED PHOTO


Columbus native Marja Harmon, who once starred in a Broadway production of “The Lion King,” understands the circle of life maybe better than ever these days.

During the Christmas holidays, she found herself home reviewing music with Columbus’ Janie Gordon, her first voice teacher. In fact, the 30-year-old Marja ironically began rehearsing the first song Gordon ever gave her to sing as a 14-year-old: “I Dreamed a Dream” from “Les Misérables.”

Marja, who lives in New York City, will croon the dramatic number as part of her appearance with sibling and fellow Broadway singer Chasten Harmon, 27, on Saturday with the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic. Organizers expect a packed house of 1,000 people at Judson Erne Auditorium.

“I think I have just a little bit more of an idea what that song is about now than I did at 14,” said Marja, laughing as she spoke by phone from her New York apartment. “Back then, I knew only that it was very pretty music.”

If you go

WHO

Columbus natives and singers Marja and Chasten Harmon and sax player Cam Collins performing with the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic in “Live From New York!”

WHEN

7:30 p.m. Saturday

WHERE

Columbus North High School’s Judson Erne Auditorium, 1400 25th St.

TICKETS

Only a small number remain, according to organizers. Most are $10 “rush seating” spaces that will not be filled until after the evening’s opening number. Others are available at 376-2638, ext. 110.

INFORMATION

thecip.org

Actually the concert, billed as “Live from New York!” is meant to partially highlight the fulfilled dreams thus far for the Harmons and for Columbus native and sax player Cam Collins, now performing in New York City and elsewhere with top jazz artists. The Harmons last performed here in April 2011 at an event marking the opening of the new Commons.

Both sisters said they are thrilled to return and sing with the philharmonic, though their rehearsal time will be limited.

“But Chasten and I naturally blend very well together,” Marja said of them, both second sopranos.

Gordon said Marja showed above-average maturity as a vocalist even as a young teen.

And Gordon said she realized at December rehearsals without the orchestra that both Harmons had become “vocal powerhouses.”

Online audio clips of each — Marja from “The Lion King” and Chasten from “Les Misérables” — showcase big, bold voices capable of turning almost any tune into a soaring anthem, if needed.

Among other numbers, the two will collaborate on “For Good,” from Broadway’s “Wicked.” And Chasten will sing her signature song, “On My Own,” from her two-year role as Eponine in her Broadway tour of “Les Misérables” that included a stop in Indianapolis last year.

“They already were performance-ready (in December) for this concert,” Gordon said, adding that the only adjustments have involved some timing. “They will be amazing. People will weep.”

As Chasten spoke about the upcoming appearance days ago from her New Haven, Conn., apartment, her multi-tasking reflected her hectic life of graduate work in acting at Yale University. She applied make-up, cooked her breakfast and lunch and conducted an interview simultaneously.

Besides her classes and outside-the-classroom college work-study of helping with others’ auditions, Chasten also runs a rehearsal-space rental business. She attributes the hyperactivity to parents Tom and Mary Harmon, who each have run their own business in the area.

“When I watched them, I just thought I should always be doing something,” Chasten said.

Marja is busying herself with a day job at an architectural firm as she pursues auditions for television shows. Perseverance is a must in an industry specializing in rejection.

“Ninety percent of the auditions result in nothing,” Marja said.

Her latest role is as Nancy in a production of “Oliver!” over two February weekends in Virginia Beach, Va.

But she quickly adds that she needs her down time.

“Yoga keeps me sane in New York City,” she said, acknowledging that there are many metro stresses.

Because of tight schedules, the two will not have a chance to actually do a run-through with the philharmonic until hours before the concert. Until then, they will practice duets electronically — with each others voices recorded on their iPads.

“I wish there was a little more time,” Chasten said. “And it’ll be a little nerve-wracking for me coming into town on the day of the performance.

“But we both know that, with the orchestra, we’re definitely in good hands.”

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