Saturday, December 14, 2013

Candlelit Evening at John Walters Museum With the McDades

Thursday evening was a snowy one with a bit of a breeze so that as one drove the snow seemed to be coming directly at you.  This can be dangerously mesmerizing on a highway but not so much in the city as we drove through heavy traffic (there was a hockey game at Rexall Place that night) on our way to the John Walters Museum in Edmonton.

When we arrived at our destination, the wind had let up substantially and only a light snow persisted to fall.  Upon arrival and checkin, one is greeted with the aromas of fresh home baked cookies, hot apple cider and hot chocolate, all complimentary with tickets for the event.

In another house, there were three buildings open for the event, we arrived to a candlelit living room filled with chairs, a wood burning pot belly stove (not being used), and three performers at the head of the room.  Sitting in the front row, we were privy to the amazing experience of seeing the trio of  Shannon, Solon and his partner Alison who would perform for 45 minutes with the most lovely renditions of British and French Christmas carols.  It's truly beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

The McDades:  Solon (son), Shannon (daughter) and Alison (Solon's partner)

 Shannon shared a personal piece at the end of the performance with a violin solo followed by Edel Weiss prepared by Alison for their particular instruments.  Alison sang the song in a soft lyrical voice that was truly beautiful.

After this concert, we went to the first building for hot chocolate and fresh baked cookies before heading to John Walter's bachelor home where a harp and a table covered with a variety of wind instruments and a guitar sat behind the two performers for the remainder of the evening, Terry McDade and his son Jeremiah who performed for another 45 minutes.   Below is the harp backlit with candles in mason jars.

 Terry McDade (Dad)

 Jeremiah McDade (son) played violin and a variety of wind instruments.  The McDades have their own beautiful renditions of several songs, including Little Drummer Boy wherein Jeremiah opens with throat singing.  Terry explained that as they composed this piece, they asked themselves what would it have been like in Bethlehem in an inn on the night Mary and Joseph would have been seeking a place to spend the night.  Likely the inn would have been crowded with people and a band would have been playing.  Little Drummer Boy was performed for our enjoyment in a manner in keeping with the McDades perception of that night over a thousand years ago.  If you get a chance to listen to this song, I highly recommend it.  As different as it is from the traditional song, it is perhaps more authentic to the experience and certainly beautiful.

The audience was invited to join in a couple of numbers as well.

I loved this concert!  It helps to refocus on the traditional values of Christmas, on the simple joys and wonderment.  The nice thing about the venue is that it feels like it is not in a large city but rather on its own, surrounded by large trees and freshly fallen snow.  Overhead the snow stopped for a while and one could see the thumbnail of a moon shining through the branches overhead.

I'd love to make this a family tradition to attend yearly.  I loved it that much!

El Noi De La Mare - Terry McDade and The McDades:

A French carol by the McDades.  Sorry no video footage accompanied this song so perhaps listen with your eyes closed.  Isn't it lovely?

Tobogganing Crow

Sunday, June 30, 2013