One of the most memorable experiences in my career as a musician was preparing for a performance with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.  The gig?  Baritone soloist in one of the most monumental pieces of all time, Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana.  I was one of 3 soloists with a choir of 500 and an orchestra of over 60 players.  As I prepared for one of the biggest performances of my career, I was nervous, excited, honoured, and I had never worked as hard to learn a piece of music as I did for this one.

As performance day approached, I attended the first of only two rehearsals with the orchestra in the Centennial Concert Hall.  (Though hundreds of hours of preparation go into a performance like that, it only takes minutes to put it all together with a group of that calibre.)  Not a moment could be wasted – the rehearsal had to be as flawless as the performance itself.  Adrenaline was at an all time high – my heart was pounding out of my chest, but on the outside, you would never know it.  (Of course, appearing calm under pressure is a skill I learned well as a performer, and continue to use every day.)

At the first rehearsal, the tuning stopped, the maestro raised his baton, and a hush fell over the 500+ performers as everyone waited for the signal to begin.

The physical sensation that followed has been burned into my memory, both mentally and physically.  As the orchestra began, my chair shook beneath me, literally rocking the stage floor as the music exploded.  It almost felt out of body.  This was the collective effort of hundreds of people, starting simultaneously toward a common musical goal – a musical journey of raw emotion – elation, rage, calm, and everything in between.

I describe that sensation as visceral, inspiring, and terrifying (in the best possible way).

But even better was the description of that performance relayed to me by my friends and family in the audience on performance day – electrifying, unbelievable, powerful, primal, impressive…transportive.

That is the power music has on human response.

For most of us, the experience of being in the same room as a live symphony orchestra is rare.  Even more rare is the chance to be on stage with them.  It can be transcendent.  It can spark many emotions.  It can ignite memories.  It’s a physical experience as much as emotional.

I share this story because I want you to join me in my appreciation for the live orchestral experience, and the memories it can make. But there’s another reason.  We are about to hear that same group of musicians play for us, right here in Steinbach as they tour to our community for the Manitoba Hydro Holiday tour this December.  They’ll play all your holiday favourites and transport you to a time and place where nothing matters but the joy of family, the joy of generosity, and the joy of Christmas.

Folks, for an hour or two, you will be somewhere else.

After waiting three years to come back together, we’ll all remember what a normal Christmas feels like here in the Southeast.

To quote the children’s choir scheduled to perform on December 6th:

Somewhere in my memory

All of these dreams all around me

Living in my memory

All of the music

All of the magic

All of the family home here with me

This year, we’ll not only remember it, we will all FEEL the spirit of Christmas as a community, brought together by music.

We’re honoured to have Three Way Builders take part in the annual tradition as our concert sponsor.  Without their generosity, our community would not be able to host the best orchestral players in the province.  Its not just Santa Claus who’s coming to town.  The best of the best are coming to town, eager to transport our audience, and kick off one of the most wonderful holiday seasons in years.  And we have community generosity to thank for making that possible.

PS – are you looking for a way to put generosity into action?  Consider the gift of a donation to the Steinbach Arts Council – the largest charitable arts organization in the region.  Or purchase a membership.  Every penny from your membership purchase or you donation goes straight back into our programs, keeping high quality experiences accessible to everyone in our community.  Help build memories for our community today.