The Men of the Deeps is North America’s only coal miners’ choir and has been entertaining audiences since 1966.
They are performing in concert at Strathespey Place on Saturday, July 23, at 7:30 pm.
The group was originally organized as part of Cape Breton’s contribution to Canada’s Centennial Year (1967), and their inception was an effort by the people of Cape Breton to preserve in song some of the rich folklore of that island’s coal mining communities.
The musical repertoire of the Men of the Deeps is gathered from mining communities around the world and from the culture of their island. Composers like songwriter Allister MacGillivray have written songs for them. The musical director of the Men of the Deeps is John C. O’Donnell, Professor of Music at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.
In 1976, the Men of The Deeps became the first Canadian performing group to tour the People’s Republic of China after diplomatic relations between the two nations were restored in 1972. And as recently as September 1999 the men traveled to Kosovo in the former Republic of Yugoslavia at the request of Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, where they performed in a gala festival organized by actress Vanessa Redgrave on behalf of the United Nations Children’s Fund.
The group’s most recent tours have brought the choir as far north as the Ekati diamond mines in the Northwest Territories, and as far south as Arizona, Alabama, Florida and the Appalachian coal mining communities of Kentucky, Virginia and Pennsylvania. In September 2008 the group was invited to perform in Las Vegas at the international MineExpo conference where sold out audiences enjoyed its unique blend of songs and stories for six consecutive nights.
During the summer months, along with an extensive performance schedule that sees them perform around Cape Breton Island, the Men of the Deeps give a weekly Tuesday night concert at 8 pm at the Glace Bay Miners’ Museum.
Tickets for the Strathespey Place performance are $25. Tickets may be ordered by phone, 945-5300, during regular box office hours, Monday to Friday from 1 pm to 4 pm, or in person at Strathspey Place, located at 11156 Route 19 in Mabou, part of the Allan J. MacEachen school complex during the same hours and one hour before showtime.