Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Celtic Christmas with Leahy

The Toronto Symphony went Celtic for Christmas this year.  I almost didn't go having found the concert a few years ago with a similar theme somewhat boring, but I'm certainly glad I did.

Donnell Leahy and Natalie MacMaster
(all photos from TSO Facebook page)
The special guest this year was Leahy.  Headed by Donnell, he was joined by two of his fiddling brothers (I'm not sure what the relation was with the pianist and drummer), his wife the incomparable Natalie MacMaster, their six children, and a few of their cousins.

Steven Reineke
With Steven Reineke at the helm, the TSO got the Christmas theme rolling with a rich and dense "Holiday Overture".  They played my favourite arrangement of "Winter Wonderland" (by Ralph Hermann) and a familiar but not overplayed version of "Carol of the Bells".

Reineke's arranging skills were featured in a gospel take of "Go Tell it on the Mountain".  Vocals were provided by the Etobicoke School of the Arts, the standard choir for the TSO Christmas concerts.

Step Dancing
Leahy took the stage with enthusiasm and infused the audience with their spirit.  Highlights were the introduction of the children step dancing in the last piece before intermission.  At each phrase of the music another youngster, getting younger and younger danced out for their turn in the spotlight.  The audience leapt to their feet at the end.

Michael Joseph
Michael Joseph (there was also a Joseph Michael) at 7 years old made his TSO solo debut playing "Silent Night" on a small fiddle.  As Donnell said it only took him about 40 more years (as Leahy was making their debut as well) to get to the same spot.  The rest of the children also demonstrated their music skills joining Michael for "Away in a Manger".  Donnell was very gracious, thanking the TSO for the opportunity for multiple generations to have the experience of playing with a wonderful symphony.

As always the evening concluded with a sing along.  But wait!  There was an encore with one of my favourite songs.  The entire Leahy clan, the TSO, and choir joined forces for the very fitting "Christmas in Killarney".

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

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