by Jessica Klein & Ken Chisholm
The signs of the season are beginning to appear in Cape Breton. The short days are tempered by pretty walks in the evening and drives home as more lights adorn houses and the decorated trees are starting to shine brightly through more and more windows. Radio stations are sneaking holiday tunes in here and there, and if you venture into a shop, you will be thrown headlong into the Christmas season.
Is your Christmas spirit beginning to surface, or is it stressed about shopping and travel? Maybe it needs a gentle coaxing this year?
If that’s the case, then the Fortress of Louisbourg might just be the place for you to get into the spirit of the season. What could be a better holiday treat than listening to beautiful choral music in the candle-lit 18th century chapel on site at the Fortress of Louisbourg?
On Sunday December 11th, 2011 from 3-5pm the Fortress Louisbourg Association and the Sydney Architectural Conservation Society will be hosting “Holiday Harmonies”. This intimate concert featuring Sydney choir Coro Cantabile, will take place in the Fortress chapel.
Coro Cantabile is a singing group from Sydney and the official singing ambassadors of Cape Breton Island courtesy of the Cape Breton County Economic Development Authority (CBCEDA). In 2010, they released a CD, entitled Christmas with Coro Cantabile, which provide many of the programme for the Louisbourg concert.
“This holiday concert has become a much anticipated, special gathering for everyone here at the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site,” says Lester Marchand, Visitor Experience Manager for Parks Canada’s Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site. “It is a time to welcome visitors in the spirit of the holidays and enjoy the peaceful setting of the chapel by candle light, decorated for the winter season and filled with the sounds of an angelic choir.”
Mitch McNutt, General Manager, of the Fortress Louisbourg Association, says, “We are fortunate to have North America’s largest historical reconstruction as the backdrop for our concert. The holiday season is a time for special gatherings with family, friends and community. We are sure the candle-lit atmosphere of an 18th century chapel filled with choral music will be an experience for the senses as well as the spirit.”
“This project brings together the efforts of the Fortress Louisbourg Association and the Sydney Architectural Conservation Society which are both not-for-profit, volunteer based societies which share common interests of protecting and presenting heritage and culture,” McNutt explains. “The Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site shares interesting connections with the heritage homes of North End Sydney. DesBarres, who laid out the original plans of the colony of Sydney was present at the final siege of Louisbourg. Following the fall of Louisbourg, many early homes in the Heritage Conservation District were built upon the cut stone salvaged from the Fortress ruins.”
Besides the opportunity to raise funds, Joyce Rankin, Director of the Sydney Architectural Conservation Society sees it as an opportunity to connect with people who appreciate beautiful and historic buildings and potentially support the Society’s project.
“We feel that one of Sydney’s greatest assets is some of the lovely buildings that are here. We have more 18th century buildings here than in New York. Beautiful and historic buildings add a lot to the spirit and pride of any town. We want to preserve them,” Rankin explains.
The Sydney Architectural Conservation Society has a mandate to rescue threatened historic buildings – especially vacant and unused buildings — by acquiring them, renovating them, protecting them with heritage covenants (easements on title), selling them to purchasers who share the same goals as the Society. The funds from the sale of these houses will be used to rescue and conserve other historic buildings in the architecturally rich working-class neighbourhoods of the former colonial capital of Cape Breton.
The Sydney group will be serving seasonal refreshments, selling tickets on a basket of heritage treasures, and will have framed copies of a limited edition Lewis Parker print for sale (ready for gift-giving).
Only 100 advance tickets will be sold. Tickets can be purchased for $25 with credit card only by phoning 902-733-3552. Guests will enter the site via Gate 2 and park in the parade square.