Having studied and played the harp for 40 years, Christine Vivona wants to break the instrument out of its classical music bonds and show audiences how jazzy it can be with the right touch.
Performance by performance, she seeks to win over audiences. Christine's biggest believer, perhaps, is her husband, Rob Boone, with whom she lives northwest of Tucson.
Since the couple met at the University of Arizona in the late 1980s - marrying in 1989 - they have experimented with fusing harp sounds with trombone, bass drum and other traditional jazz instruments to create a sound of their own.
Their love of music, and each other, eventually led to two more band members. Their sons Jesse Boone, 20, and Cory Boone, 18, who both attend the UA, make up what Rob is tentatively calling The Boone Band.
Christine, 51, plays harp, and Rob, 54, handles trombone. Jesse plays the bass and Cory is on drums. The family performs at jazz festivals and other events around town and the rest of the state, and is recording an album that's a blend of rearranged standards and original material.
Most of the family will perform a concert at 2 p.m. Sunday at St. Philip's in the Hills Episcopal Church, 4440 N. Campbell Ave. Family friend Jack Wood will stand in for Jesse, who is in New York this summer for a New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts program.
Christine, who earned a master of musical arts in jazz performance at the Juilliard School and a doctorate of musical arts in harp performance at the UA, likens her jazz harp playing to an ethereal substitute for jazz guitar.
"It's like a guitar but has a more watery sound. It's so different, really. I like that it surprises people who think a harp is very classical. I'm playing one with style here. I am swinging with the rest of the band. That's just very fun," she said.
Rob, who said the harp adds another dimension to the music, has been refining and calibrating his wife's jazz contributions for just about as long as they've been wed.
"We started playing together early on in our marriage," he said. "We'd play, just the two of us, at Christmas concerts and other types of concerts. Our sound kind of developed from that."
Rob, who teaches trombone and piano at Pima Community College, capped his UA studies with a master's in trombone performance and performed on a cruise ship for four years in the 1980s before meeting Christine.
Some musicians struggle to maintain their discipline once they have children, but the couple helped their boys enhance their musical lives.
"We've always played together," Christine said. "We play classical, too. It's much more fun for us all to play jazz. Cory is such a good jazz drummer."
Cory appreciates his upbringing.
"It's great. Ever since I was little, when I just hit things, they would tell everyone I was a percussionist," Cory said. "They thought it was a good idea to get me drum lessons. I started at age 5."
Cory's parents were correct about his percussion passion. He's now drumming for a jazz big band at the UA, with which he will be heading on a school-sponsored tour of China July 26-Aug. 22.
Despite his travels, Cory will remain a part of his first band, and appreciative of his mom's harp.
"I love playing with it," he said. "It's nice to have kind of a new sound. I think it's great that my mom is playing jazz."
If you go
• What: Christine Vivona, Rob Boone, Cory Boone and Jack Wood jazz performance.
• When: 2 p.m. Sunday.
• Where: 4440 N. Campbell Ave.
• Admission: $15 suggested donation.
• Online: www.stphilipstucson.org
Christine Vivona and Rob Boone have their own websites: www.christinevivona.com and www.robboonemusic.com
Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or firstname.lastname@example.org