Category Archives: Music

The Symphony Mexican Style

Yesterday we went to the grand and palatial Teatro Peon Contreras in Merida to hear a performance by the Yucatan Symphony. It was worth going just to see the gorgeous theatre built in 1907 with its huge promenadeinteresting ceiling detailsand grand marble staircases. We arrived a little early to soak up the beauty of our surroundings. We weren’t able to get tickets with my sister and her husband but they were seated directly across the hall from us in the third balcony, second loge from the right. The Yucatan Symphony Orchestra treated us to an overture by Brahms, a concerto for two violins by Malcolm Arnold and Schumann’s Symphony No. 4.  My favorite was the concerto which I thought could easily have served as the soundtrack for a scary movie. There was a guest conductor from Austin named Robert Carter.  I was struck by the  wide variety of ages in the symphony musicians and if their names in the program were any indication they were almost all of Spanish or Mexican origin. 

After the concert which started at 12 noon we went out for a late lunch and then my sister and I posed on the concert hall steps which by then were free of the crowds that had packed them before. 

We often attend performances of the Winnipeg Symphony in their concert hall which is just across the street from our home in Winnipeg.  It was interesting to go to the symphony in another country where the surroundings and audience members and musicians may have been different but the beauty and pleasure derived from good music was not. 

Other posts……….

Come From Away- A Musical For Our Time

An Artist’s Date For My Mom

Prague – A City of Music

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Filed under Mexico, Music

My Husband is Famous

Our family posing outside the Burton Cummings Theatre before the release of Royal Canoe’s album Something Got Lost Between Here and the Orbit in 2016. My husband Dave is front and center. 

When my husband’s favourite Winnipeg band Royal Canoe put out a call recently for people to appear in a new music video lip syncing lyrics to one of their latest tunes, Dave decided he would apply for the gig.  His bid for musical stardom was accepted and he was given an appointment to record his contribution to the video.  dave on royal canoe's 77-76The video was released last week and there is Dave featured in a tune called 77-76 from Royal Canoe’s upcoming new album Waver which will be officially released at the end of January.  According to an interview with band member Matt Peters on the Spill New Music site the song “is about seeing a storm approaching on the horizon. The ship is beginning to rock back and forth violently, but the captain is drunk. Your last captain was alright, but this new one is an idiot. You go up on the deck and see the sky darkening fast. In spite of that, all you can do is hope the crew can rally on their own and keep the ship above water. You always find a way.”

Check Dave out on the video here.  Why not give it a like and perhaps even a comment while you are at it? 

Other posts………

The Daily Bonnet Just Made Us Famous

Fun Evening in Toronto


Filed under Family, Music

Music From Young Men to Lift Your Heart

Last weekend I was privileged to hear a program of  music at the First Presbyterian Church here in Winnipeg that featured four outstanding boys’ choirs. 

The first was Ecole Sisler Boys Choir conducted by Carolyn Boyes. I was moved by their beautiful rendition of He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother made popular in the 1970s by The Hollies and Neal Diamond. The lyrics apply to each one of us no matter what stage we are at on our life’s journey.

It’s a long, long road
From which there is no return
While we’re on the way there
Why not share?

The second male music group was the Pembina Trails Boys Choir conducted by my talented daughter-in-law Alisa Wiebe.  What a full rich sound those ten little fellows made! One of their selections was called Walking in the Air.  It was a piece of music from the film version of Raymond Briggs’  classic children’s book The Snowman. The beautiful sound of the choir had me closing my eyes and  floating in the moonlight sky with the flying snowman and his young friend as they surveyed the ground below.  

A Stopping by Woods mural done by some of my elementary students in Mitchell

Next up was the Kelvin Boys Choir conducted by Kimberly Brown. Their outstanding selection had to be the piece by Randall Thompson which set to music the words of Robert Frost’s poem Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening. It is a poem I memorized as a child and have introduced to nearly every class of students I have taught from nursery school to grade twelve.  As the choir sang I imagined the mural a group of my grade two students once created to illustrate the poem. 

We always sang Ubi Caritas at the end of our meals at Tao Fong Shan our church in Hong Kong

The final group to sing was The Winnipeg Boys Choir conducted by Spencer Duncanson. One of their numbers was Ubi Caritas, a piece that is special to me because our church in Hong Kong always ended our Sunday gatherings with it.  The Winnipeg Boys Choir sang a version by Ola Gjeilo in Latin. The phrase that repeats itself over and over is Ubi caritas et amour, Deus ibi est.Where love and charity are, God is there

My Mom and Dad at Christmas with children from a refugee family from Sierra Leone they sponsored

Those words speak to the true message of the season. God is present wherever and whenever people act in a kind and helpful way. It doesn’t matter if we are Buddhists or Hindus or Muslims or Christians. Whenever we care for others God is present and real.  Regardless of our cultural background or racial identity we invoke God’s presence whenever we open our hearts to those in need.  Regardless of our sexual orientation or gender we are the embodiment of God’s spirit when we touch the lives of others in a positive way. Regardless of our social or economic class when we share our resources with others, God’s love as it is illustrated in the story of the baby born two thousand years ago becomes a reality in 2018. 

Near the end of November I wrote about how a choir of young women had inspired me.  Last weekend it was choirs of young men who did.  The message of their music has infused a real sense of hope and joy into the holiday.
Other posts………

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Filed under Holidays, Music


I saw the movie Green Book this week about a wealthy African American concert pianist and his Italian chauffeur. They are driving through the racially segregated southern United States in 1962.  The line in the movie that stayed with me was “the world is full of lonely people waiting to make the first move”.  

Dr. Don Shirley the musician in the movie is a wealthy man. He is incredibly talented, lives in a luxurious apartment  filled with fine art and beautiful furniture, and is cared for by a servant. He can speak eight languages, knows people in high places, and has been presented with two honorary university degrees.  

Yet he is a lonely man. He is estranged from his brother. He is divorced. He says he is too much a part of the white world to have many black friends and because he is black he nevers feels his white acquaintances truly accept him.  Will he make a move to get past his isolation and establish a bond with someone? 

The movie made me think of a music video recently released by my favorite Winnipeg band Royal Canoe. It is called RAYZ. The man in the video is also a performer- one of those living statue artists who poses for money.  Unlike Dr. Shirley he is poor, counting his pennies, living in a run down room, buying lottery tickets and going to bars alone. Sometimes he stares at people doing things together on the beach where he works.   Is he wondering what it would be like to make the first move to establish some kind of bond with one of them? 

There are lots of lonely people in our world.  Perhaps we should think about altering the movie quote from…. “the world is full of lonely people waiting to make the first move” to “the world is full of lonely people waiting for us to make the first move.” 

Other posts……..

Why Do We Still Like Dickens A Christmas Carol? 

Thanks Terry MacLeod

Time To Get Out of Our Holy Huddles

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Filed under Movies, Music

And A Baby Cried

On Saturday afternoon I was at Canadian Mennonite University enjoying their annual showcase called Christmas at CMU.  The women’s choir under the direction of Janet Brennerman was performing The Magnificat by Z. Randall Stroope an absolutely divine musical interpretation of the hymn Mary sings while visiting her cousin Elizabeth. The birth of Mary’s child is imminent and in the words of her song she is imagining how her son might change the world. 

Stroope’s version of The Magnificat  has this lush and truly grand duet accompaniment and when the two female musicians at the piano and the fifty- three members of the choir reached the Glory section of the lyrics I got tears in my eyes listening to all those bold and talented young women proclaiming the powerful message of the text with their loud, strong voices.  

After the next line  “as it was in the beginning” there was this ever so slight pause in the music and just at that moment a baby in the audience cried.  Rather than detract from the performance it was the perfect accompaniment to the text as the choir continued “is now and every shall be.”

Sometimes I think about how difficult it must be in our present day to decide to bring a child into the world, a world racked with war and the approaching doomsday effects of climate change, a world where people seem so divided, where so many have lost their homes and lives to violence.  

But then I think about how some of those children coming into our world right now are going to change it, make it a better place just as Mary imagined her child would. Maybe it will be that baby who cried out during the performance of The Magnificant on Saturday who will bring about some of those positive changes. 

Could it be that  as it was in the beginning for Mary as she waited for her child’s life to begin it is now and every shall be for new parents and the rest of us who wait expectantly for God’s peaceful kingdom to become a reality here on earth?

Other posts……….. 

Right to Have Children?

Must We Live in Fear?

God of Eve and God of Mary

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Filed under Music, Religion

Come From Away- A Musical For Our Time

At a bar called The Batch discussing Come From Away after the show.

After we saw the musical Come From Away at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto my husband and I went to a nearby pub to talk about it.  We both loved the instrumentalists whose Celtic music accompanied the show. We thought the story telling was superb.  Sometimes in a musical all the singing detracts from the story.  In Come From Away it certainly does not.  For those of my readers who aren’t familiar with the story of Come From Away it is based on the true experiences of the residents of Gander Newfoundland and what happened when some 7000 airplane passengers were stranded in their town during the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.  

The people of that small community literally opened their homes and hearts and public spaces to all these strangers from around the world feeding them, entertaining them, caring for them and building relationships with them. The musical shows us what a diverse group of people emerged from the 38 planes stranded in Gander.  There were folks from many different countries, who spoke many different languages, followed many different religions and were of different races.  There were people from different social classes and different income levels and different sexual orientations.  Somehow they all managed to become friends and care for one another and support each other in a time of crisis. 

We are at a point in history when the ruling political party in the United States wants to build a wall and shut their doors to people who are in a desperate situation, when racial discrimination and anti-Semitism seem to be rearing their ugly heads once again, when the American president issues edicts to ban Muslims from his country and stop transexual people from serving in the military.  At a time like that it is refreshing and inspiring to see a musical where differences between people are celebrated and seen as strengths, where doors are opened and not closed to those in need.

Waiting for the play to start at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto

There’s a scene near the end of a play when a woman from New York and a woman from Gander who have become friends are talking on the phone.  They like to share jokes.  The woman from Gander says…… “Want to hear a Newfie joke?”  The woman from New York familiar with the routine says,  “Knock, knock” and the woman from Newfoundland says “Come on in. The door’s open.”    

That’s the essence of the play.  All these strangers in need knocked on the door in Gander and the local people there said, “Come on in.”  Wouldn’t it be great if our world worked like that?

The musical Come From Away sells out wherever it is staged in Toronto, New York, Winnipeg and in 2019 its going to be in Dublin, London and Sydney. I bought our tickets four months ago and there were only a few seats still available  that long before the performance.

My husband and I decided a big reason why Come From Away has become so popular is because even though the events in the drama happened nearly two decades ago they provide a message of hope for our time and inspire kindness.  It portrays our world the way so many of us wish it could be. 

Other posts………

A Musical Mural in Toronto

Marc Chagall and Fiddler on the Roof

Jersey Boys

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Filed under Music, Theatre, Toronto

The Same Race

“We are all running the same race.  We are all going to the same place.”

The_Once_band- wikipediaOn Tuesday night courtesy of my cousin and her husband we attended a concert at the West End Cultural Centre featuring the talented musical trio The Once.  The Newfoundland band members have a wonderful on stage chemistry and blend their voices in rich and interesting harmonies.  I enjoyed many of their songs but the one whose lyrics stuck with me was called We Are All Running.

The line in the song that is repeated over and over is………

“We are all running the same race.  We are all going to the same place.

I did some reflecting on the meaning of that line.

We are all running the same race.  


Golden_Rule_by_Norman_Rockwell public domain

The Golden Rule by Norman Rockwell

Whether we are Caucasian or African or Indigenous or Asian we are all participating in the race of life hoping to find happiness, security and peace of mind. 

Whether we are rich or poor or middle class we all running the race of life to achieve the very best outcomes for our families and those we love. 

Whether we are Conservatives or Liberals or New Democrats or Green Party members we all involved in the race of life with the goal of making our communities, our country and our world a safer, more prosperous and more peaceful place to live now and in the future. 

Whether we are Buddhists or Muslims or Christians or Hindus we are all pondering the race of life in order to find meaning, hope and spiritual blessing. 

Whether we are men or women or transgender, straight or gay or bisexual we are all journeying together on the race of life desiring to discover who we are and how we can connect to others in meaningful ways. 

We are all running the same race and in the end we are all hoping to arrive at the same place- we all basically desire the same outcomes for ourselves and our families and our communities. 

street mural canada's children saskatoon

Mural of Canada’s children on Broadway in Saskatoon


Listen to The Once singing We Are All Running. 

The song’s lyrics can be found here .


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Filed under Music, Newfoundland