It was a night to remember. A night of song, of magic, of harmony in motion. A night when hearts beat as one and dreams awoke and spirits arose to cry out with joy. It was, the night of the Christmas at the Madison Concert.
Even though John Langford, the Calgary Police Detective who was instrumental in the Madison being created couldn’t make it in the end due to a work situation, and the other officer who spends a great deal of time working with the guys at the Madison ended up sick. And even though one of the performers also was called into work and the roads were icy and slick and the audience smaller than anticipated, it was a magical, mystical evening that touched hearts, opened minds and set spirits soaring.
From the opening blessing by Rev. Brian Pearson who shared one of John O’Donohue’s poems to honour the recent deaths by suicide of four military veterans and the struggles of many with PTSD and homelessness and addictions, to his closing song of The River, the evening expanded out into ever widening circles of joy and harmony and love.
The music began with Robert Davies. Bob holds a PhD in mechanical engineering, sits on the board of Alpha House, the sponsors of the evening and the operators of The Madison, and in between, he is a passionate musician. A researcher at heart, Bob explores the music and guitars of countries from around the world and makes them sing. Beneath his flying fingers, the charango hums and the music stirs body and soul. Classical, a piece he wrote himself, Bob delves into the music with the intensity he brings to building and refining anything electrical. Fascinating!
And then, Justine Tyrell and her guitar player, Taylor Cullen, took the stage and wowed us with their pop/jazz renditions of popular and Christmas songs.
Taylor Cochrane, my step-son, took over the grand-piano and under his ministrations he filled the sanctuary with pounding rhythms and haunting lyrics. I am always in awe of Taylor’s talents, and smile whenever he leaves the stage. Shy by nature, he stands up from the piano and leaps from the stage while the audience is clapping. He doesn’t want the accolades. It’s all about the music.
I like to joke and say that the only reason I put on the concert is to make my eldest daughter sing for my birthday and, as in last year’s concert, she sang again, accompanied by her life-partner and best friend, James. Their rendition of Summertime, one of my favourites, steals my breath away every time and this year, their performance of Little Drummer Boy stole my heart. It was stunning.
At intermission, the crowd enjoyed the treats provided by Alpha House and bought Christmas Cards from my sister Anne who was manning the station. Thank you Anne for sharing your spirit and helping to make the evening a success. You rock!
Everyone wandered through the art show that my beautiful Tamz, my fellow Basement Bombshell Art Collective member and I had set up and between us, we sold 4 pieces, which between the cards and art sold added an additional $180 to the total raised that evening. (The Collective donated 20% of sales to the Madison.)
Sandy Carson and Mikaela Cochrane (my step-daughter) began the second half with Sandy taking over the grand piano and Mikaela standing beside him, her long blonde hair shimmering in the light of centre state. Together their voices were powerful and then, Mikaela braved a solo after Luke, her accompanist couldn’t make it. Wow! Her delicate high notes, her quirky signature voice of an angel dove deeply into everyone’s hearts.
As in last year, Felipe Parades took to centre stage, his Latin good looks, his deep, strong voice (and did I mention his biceps?), ever the Latin male, Felipe took off his jacket in front of the crowd and there was a collective gasp from all the women. But it wasn’t just his good looks that wowed us, it was his soulful playing and powerful voice that moved us.
And then, Brian Pearson came on stage and brought the evening to a close. Brian is the Priest at St. Stephen’s Anglican Church where we held the concert, and more than that, Brian is a community-gatherer, a soul-collector, a heart-greeter. He is a combination of Gordon Lightfoot and Bob Dylan. Deep powerful voice. Deep powerful words.
I sat and listened. I sat and breathed. I sat and clapped and moved my body and through it all I felt the love of life, of humanity, of wonder and awe stirring within me. I felt connected, at One, at onement. I felt inspired. Moved. Broken open. I felt Love.
It was a magical evening and I will be sharing photos, but first I have to get the connection between my iphone and computer to work.
Many blessings and much gratitude to everyone who helped make the evening so spectacular. From Lynn McCune at St. Stephen’s who helped me organize, to my daughter Liseanne who sat by the front door, greeting guests and collecting money and doing all the small tasks that needed taking care of to ensure everything went smoothly. She’s offered to take over the media/marketing for next year and I am grateful.
to all the performers and to all those who braved the cold dark night of winter on icy roads to come and be part of Christmas at the Madison.
And, to the veterans, the staff of Alpha House, the Calgary Homeless Foundation and to all those who donated time and resources to ensure this year we will be able to support the men living at the Madison in their journey away from homelessness,
You make the world shine. You are a bright light of love and compassion, creativity and joy.