Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Show & Tell: Danu: A Christmas in Ireland Brings New Meaning to a "Family" Christmas

If you’re lost the magic of Christmas amid the hustle and bustle of the season you need not look any further than our very own Fox Cities P.A.C. which is more “a glow” with Christmas than any card you’ll receive this year.

Danú: A Christmas in Ireland took the audience at the Fox Cities P.A.C. on a musical Christmas journey through Ireland, time, and the Christmas memories of our own hearts.

Danú adopted the audience into their big Irish family by using music, storytelling and the sharing of Irish traditions. The audience sang the ingredient list to help bake the Christmas Cake, went on a traditional wren chase searching for the little red birds on December 26th, the Feast of St. Steven, and sang along as the Christmas candle was lit and placed in the family window.

With instruments ranging from flutes and guitars to the Irish bodhran, it was awe inspiring how only six musicians could weave together each song with more musicality than a full symphony. The complexity of the arrangements and the band’s layering of the music of traditional and familiar Christmas pieces were nothing short of brilliant.

With every note the Irish ensemble of six inspired the audience to approach their personal traditions of Christmas, no mater what they are, with rejuvenated wonder and respect.

Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, sole woman of Danú, soothed the audience with a voice made for lullabies and sacred songs. Her beautifully haunted timbre was perfect for those old and traditional Irish pieces and the favorite carols more recognizable to the audience at the Fox Cities P.A.C. such as “Silent Night.”

Danú was joined throughout the program by the local talents of The White Heron Chorale and Irish step dancers from the Trinity Academy of Irish Dance. These local performers fit right into the Irish family and made their hometown audience proud.

Several of the pieces were lively and fast, sparking a whispered buzz through the audience of how even the skilled musicians of Danú could play so many notes so rapidly. Although impressive in their own right, the highlight of the evening for this theatergoer was “Le Coinnle na N’Aingeal” (the "Candles of Angels"). This song is about the simple Irish tradition of placing a lit candle in the window to welcome the Holy Family or any visitor seeking hospitality in the night. For me, Christmas lived in the voice of Amhlaoibh as she poured this prayer like song into the hearts of the audience.

Danú: A Christmas in Ireland set the Christmas scene at the Fox Cities P.A.C. perfectly.

With such a traditional family feel I almost felt guilty leaving after the encore without hugging each band member and saying goodbye.

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