Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sing We All Noel

This Christmas season has been full of Irish music activities. For me, the Christmas season began in early December when I attended a Cherish The Ladies concert, a rousing, energetic performance of many of the songs and tunes on their new Christmas CD, A Star in the East. As a member of the Washington Square Harp and Shamrock Orchestra I was part of Mick Moloney's Irish Christmas concert series at the Irish Arts Center. The WSHSO also played in the Airneal na Nollag, an annual holiday celebration at New York University's Glucksman Ireland House. Additionally, we provided music for the Christmas party of the Irish American Bar Association of New York. I attended a session at the Landmark Tavern when Jimmy Crowley was in town. I've been to several sessions at Lillie's this month, and last night I went to the massive Christmas session at Dempsey's. All the bars are beautifully decorated for Christmas, making the sessions seem very festive.

Christmas music is everywhere. My husband has many CDs containing both secular and sacred Christmas music. We listen to them at home and in the car, and I have loaded my favorites onto my iPod. On the piano I practiced both Advent and Christmas hymns in preparation for accompanying two worship services this month at Manhattan Mennonite Fellowship. On the silver concert flute I'm working on Danse des Mirlitons from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Ballet, to be played at MMF on January 3, 2010. On the wooden Irish flute I re-learned the Christmas Eve reel, a standard of the season. During the Irish Arts Center gig I enjoyed the repeated performances of Mary's Boy Child as sung by Donie Carroll, Louise Sullivan's poignant rendition of Jackson Browne's The Rebel Jesus, and Mick Moloney's driving version of Down Among the Bushes of Jerusalem. Liz Hanley's singing of Christmas in the Trenches brought home the painful reminder that war (still) prevails instead of "Peace on Earth" about which the angels sang. Liz also sang The Cherry Tree carol which I sang at MMF last year. My own new Christmas song this year is an Appalachian song called In the Valley. I learned it from a Little Windows Christmas CD called Snowman's Waltz. Hopefully I'll get to sing it somewhere before the season is over.

Music is an integral part of the Christmas holiday season. It speaks to us, moves us, in a way that nothing else can. Christmas music washes over us everywhere we go. It permeates the air. It comforts us and helps us rejoice. I think perhaps it's one way that God comes to earth and makes His presence felt. That's my experience anyway. Perhaps it's yours as well. So...

May your Christmas be merry, and May there be music!
Sing We All Noel

© 2009, Linda Mason Hood
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