The Barra MacNeils are preparing to embark on a bold new musical journey with the debut of Cathedal on April 10th at St. Andrew’s United Church in Sydney. Rehearsals have been underway between touring jaunts since last summer.
The production is described as a musical adventure combining the best of many worlds – a selection of some of the past millennium’s greatest musical compositions, featuring the power of the pipe organ with the delicate, sometimes driving sounds of the mandolin, fiddle, and whistle, all happening in a beautiful cathedral setting. From Vivaldi to Styx, ancient chants to Bobby McFerrin, Barras to Bach, Cathedral will take the audience on a unique musical adventure.
The concept for the show first came out of a conversation between the Barra MacNeils’ piano player Sheumas MacNeil and Halifax-based producer Brookes Diamond, when MacNeil revealed he had spent his university days at Mt. Allison learning to master the pipe organ. “It was a surprise to learn Sheumas had his degree in pipe organ,” says Diamond. “…and the idea of combining the music of the Barras with the power and traditions of the pipe organ in the settings of the great cathedrals of the world began to emerge. The group liked the idea and Cathedral was born.”
MacNeil is excited about the idea. “Pipe organ was always one of my favourite instruments to play, but we didn’t have one at home and they’re hard to find in concert halls, so it all just fell out of the picture. It’s been great getting back at the pedals and the keys, experimenting with so much new and old material.”
Sheumas’ brother Stewart, who plays a variety of instruments with the family band, including accordion and whistles, has been happily surprised at the way the show has been coming together. “The whole family has been involved, suggesting pieces from many genres that have been lifelong favourites while discovering material that we’d never heard before. The organ certainly adds a powerful new sound and we’ve been enjoying learning some amazingly interesting music.”
Cathedral will debut at St. Andrew’s United Church, Sydney, April 10 at 7:30PM. Tickets can be purchased at the following locations:
Brine’s of New Waterford Hairstyling Ltd, 422 Hudson St., New Waterford – 862-3885
Brewers Convenience Store, 260 Commercial Street, North Sydney – 794 2304
Sexton’s Pharmacy, 746 Main St., Sydney Mines – 736-3801
Pharmasave, 135 Commercial St., Glace Bay – 849-6552
C.B. Curiosity Shop, 306 Charlotte St., Sydney – 564-4660
Quality Cameras & Computers Ltd, 245 George St., Sydney – 562-3600
St. Andrew’s United Church Office, 40 Bentinck St., Sydney – 564-4810