Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Concert Review: Lorenna McKennitt

Last night, a few of us Prestwick Housers took a road trip after work it to Washington, DC to see Loreena McKennitt in concert at the DAR Constitution Hall.

If you've not heard Ms. McKennit's music before, try to imagine Celtic folk with a middle eastern twist and beautiful soaring vocals. Then, when you can't actually imagine that, head on over to her web page, Quinlan Road and check out the samples that she shares.

If you like what you hear, make sure you check out tickets to the show -- her first tour in a decade. She and her band do a magnificent job weaving a rich tapestry of sound with 10 musicians on stage at a time and at least two dozen different instruments ranging from McKennitt's harp and piano to the Hurdy Gurdy, a wide range of drums, and more. It's probably the most well-orchestrated show I've ever seen.

Why does this bring a group of educational publishers to our capital, and why would it be of interest to English teachers?

Well, Ms. McKennitt's music has a deep literary tradition. Among the songs she played last night was a musical version of Tennyson's The Lady of Shallot (video available here), Penelope's Song, the story of Odysseus's travels from his wife's point of view, and The Highwayman, an adaptation of an Alfred Noyes poem.

Living in Stratford, ON -- home of the Stratford Shakespeare festival, she also has a history of working in Shakespeare having written a song to Prospero's closing speech from The Tempest and music to a song from Cymbeline.

If you're looking to inspire your students with the relevancy of poetry to modern life or get them working on a creative adaptation of a favorite poem, these might be of interest to your students, even if I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud by MC Nuts isn't.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ms McKennitt's performance was indeed breathtaking as was the skill and joyfullness her band exhibited throughout the evening.

I would also like to bring to your attention another moving and mesmerizing piece from her last album, "An Ancient Muse" that features the lyrics of Sir Walter Scott entitled "The English Ladye And The Knight"

Here are some of McKennitt's own words regarding the song from a recent interview: “it touches on the issue of people loving across cultural lines, so to speak, and tragedy happens. What was interesting, I found, is that at the end of the story, the knight goes off to fight in Palestine.

“Well, here we are — it’s 2006, and conflict in Palestine is still in the news.”

Go figure, Sir Walter Scott still relevant!