Category Archives: Music

What Happens When A Woman Takes Power?

A trio of Quebec suffragettes who fought for 22 years to get women the right to vote in their province.

What happens when a woman takes power?

What happens when she won’t back down?

What happens when a woman takes power?

What happens? What happens? 

Last night I attended a choir concert at Garden City Collegiate. There was lots of terrific music on the program but one of the evening’s truly memorable moments for me was when the senior women’s choir conducted by my talented daughter-in-law formed an arc across the stage and sang in bold brave voices What Happens When A Woman Takes Power?

What happens when she rules her own body?

What happens when she sets the beat?

What happens when she bows to nobody?

What happens when she stands on her own two feet? 

The song was written by a Chicago women’s trio called Artemisia. You can hear them singing What Happens When A Woman Takes Power here.

Self- portrait by Baroque artist Artemisia Gentileschi

The singing trio Artemisia, whose members wrote and arranged What Happens When A Woman Takes Power are named after three strong women in history- a queen of ancient Greece who led her city state to a resounding naval victory- an Italian painter who was the first female member of Florence’s Academy of The Arts and a Greek goddess who was an accomplished hunter as well as an accomplished mid wife.

Jacinda Arden the Prime Minister of New Zealand and mother of a one year old daughter who led her country with love after a terrorist attack on a mosque

We rise above

We lead with love  

We have won  

We are one

We’ve just began

Seeing all those teenage women from Garden City Collegiate singing boldly about powerful women ,who lead with love, who don’t let men decide what happens to their bodies, and who don’t back down in the face of injustice was just so incredibly hope inspiring.  I dream of living long enough to see women serve in all the major positions of power in the world, leading with love and setting a progressive beat for our world!

Note:  You can check out another version of this powerful song sung by both men and women here. 

Other posts…………

Women Were Honored?  Think Again!

Proud of the New Words For Canada’s National Anthem

International Day of the Girl



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Waver – A New Album From Royal Canoe

My favorite Winnipeg band is celebrating the release of a new album called Waver this weekend at the West End Cultural Centre.  Although I’ve always been a big fan of Royal Canoe’s music their current album strikes a special chord with me.  As this feature by Ashley Hampson on the Exclaim website suggests, Waver can be viewed as Royal Canoe’s way of addressing the anxious political climate of the last several years.  The music helps listeners ultimately visualize the world as a more hopeful place. Three pieces on Waver inspire that kind of hope for me. Of course I have no idea what the talented Royal Canoe musicians were thinking when they wrote these songs, but good music evokes a meaning and message for each listener in a unique way.  Here’s what three of the songs say to me.

RAYZ which has already been released in a thought-provoking and moving video format describes people who are feeling lonely, confused and hopeless.  The song compares them to flowers growing higher and higher each day, reaching for the sun and longing to find some light to nurture them and let them flourish . “Pull me up Lord, I’m dying. Time to let the light in.”   

In 77-76, the lyrics describe a challenging scenario for our world- night is approaching, strong winds are blowing, a storm is coming, people are blinded. But we can persevere. We can refuse to be divided.  We can stay afloat, keep hanging on, stand up for what is right and call out to others. ” Oh we’re going to pull through.”

When I listen to Peep This I am encouraged to do what I can to be there for other people, my family, my friends and those in my community and world who need support. People may wear masks and disguises but we can get past those to truly see one another. “Don’t let me cry -Hold me up, hold me up- Look in my eyes- Stay by my side”

If you’d like to hear Royal Canoe perform their new album in person you can check them out at the West End Cultural Centre this weekend.  There will be shows tonight as well as on Saturday and Sunday. 

Other posts………

My Husband is Famous




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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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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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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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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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