TSO and The Leahy Family – A Celtic Christmas
As the TSO warmed up the audience with splendidly executed Christmas favourites,we took a moment to revel in the festive, nostalgic music. So seldom do you hear them played by such a fine musical ensemble and at the revered Roy Thompson Hall at that – a perfect venue to optimize the acoustic sounds of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
Conductor Steven Reineke was in exceptionally high spirits and especially fine form. The highlight of the evening was watching him enthusiastically conduct the TSO through some classic Christmas songs of yesteryear. The addition of the Etobicoke School of the Arts Chorus, stationed directly above the Orchestra added to the picture perfect scene.
Conductor Reineke’s smile could not have gotten wider as he led the Chorus and the TSO through one of the most jazzed up and toe-tapping renditions of “Go Tell it on the Mountain” that we have ever heard. The ending solos by the Etobicoke School of the Arts were show-stopping, receiving a well deserved standing ovation.
It was now time for the much-anticipated special guests of the evening to gift the audience with their talents. Within a few minutes this grand Hall became as intimate as a family living room at Christmas time- full of music, children and dancing.
Welcomed as an old friend onto the stage by Reineke, Donnell Leahy quickly turned the entire venue, orchestra, and audience into a down home Celtic Christmas celebration. He and his wife, Natalie MacMaster both bound and determined that each and every guest will walk away having had a good time.
With wives, brothers, cousins, nephews, nieces and children performing alongside him, it really began to feel like a big family affair – there were actually more members of this fiddling family that we could count-more than a dozen. Despite the number, they achieved intimacy with the audience and festive spirit through amazing talent and some of the most celebratory fiddling we have ever heard.
At the end, we left the Roy Thompson Hall humming a festive tune as did most of the audience- smiling as they exited the venue. The rainy drizzle from earlier had turned to light snow.