The Janelle Nadeau Ensemble brought their Prairie Christmas show to the Pinawa Community Centre last Friday and it was a great start to the Christmas season for the near sell-out crowd.
The stage suggests a Christmas morning scene. Near the centre, the gorgeous harp stands tall with decorated crown atop its pillar. Surrounding it is an unusual abundance of wood and wind instruments wrapped in their exquisite wood boxes. On one side, tucked between double bass and cello, a beautiful hurdy-gurdy waits to be cranked. On the other, a nyckelharpa rests with yet another
hurdy-gurdy beneath a harmonium, which is itself topped by a castanet machine. Lying nearby are sleigh bells on a wooden handle along with another ancient set mounted in leather and once worn by horses. The whole scene is completed by a set of spoons near the harp and two tiny finger cymbals
strung from a music stand.
Then the musicians enter, each picking up an instrument with loving care as they begin to present their wonderful gifts to us, the fortunate audience.
This was a well-rounded show featuring standard carols, poetic readings, less well-known but no less beautiful older pieces, personal stories, some Spanish stylings, and a small children’s chorus. The musical expertise was obvious throughout. Janelle of course is a master harpist and vocalist but also
played harmonium, bells, and spoons. Natanielle Felicitas could do anything on her cello. Quintin Bart is an expert with hurdy-gurdy and double bass, and Joaquin Ayala completes the ensemble on nyckelharpa, hurdy-gurdy, harmonium, and castanet machine. Guest vocalist Janine Guyot added her
beautiful voice for this concert.
Superlatives abound when considering the performance. Peace on Earth was a moving and plaintive plea. Fum Fum Fum and Sleigh Ride were lively and fun. In a Bleak Midwinter was filled with pathos and mood as was Auld Lang Syne, presented here in a gentle and bittersweet style. A stand-out in an evening of outstanding music was Baroque Flamenco, a wonderfully complex piece with a lengthy and energetic harp solo. This brought spontaneous cheers and some audience members jumped to their feet in appreciation.The evening finished with a small choir of local school girls adding vocals for Silent Night, followed by a standing ovation.
Now watch for information on our next concert featuring Notas de 4, a flamenco music and dance troupe, on January 26 at the Pinawa Community Centre.