By Jim Cooper
Moonshine Ballads and other Charms, part of the Northern Lights Music Festival de Febrero, is an evening of music that will evoke open skies, dark tales and lazy afternoons; U.S. and Canadian traditional ballads, shaker hymns, songs by Randy Newman, Sarah Harmer, Charles Ives, Leonard Cohen, Laurie Anderson, and so much more. These are songs where nostalgia and hardship walk comfortably hand in hand, songs that find light in the darkness, that leave one feeling the vast and beating heart of Americana, Canadiana, and beyond.
Moonshine Ballads and other Charms is the third project The Gryphon Trio and Patricia O’Callaghan have collaborated on, and their concert in Ajijic will be the premiere performance of many of these songs. Last year they performed “Broken Hearts & Madmen,” which was released by the Analekta label in September 2011. This album won a Juno award in Canada and has widened the audience of the Gryphon Trio who have long been regarded one of the world’s preeminent piano trios. In September, CBC Music selected “Broken Hearts and Madmen” as “one of the 30 best Canadian classical recordings ever.”
Celebrating their 21st anniversary in 2014, Gryphon Trio has impressed international audiences and the media with their highly refined, dynamic playing. The AllMusic reviewer James Manheim commented: “It’s not easy in this eclectic age to juxtapose musical items that have never been in proximity before, but Canada’s Gryphon Trio and soprano Patricia O’Callaghan manage to do so on this recording, which proclaims itself unlike any previous chamber music album … What’s striking is how well the combination of rock-era English-language music and Latin song works.” The WholeNote reviewer Dianne Wells described the arrangements on the album as “brilliant,” the Gryphon Trio’s playing as “superb and complex,” and O’Callaghan’s singing as “gorgeous” and her “expert facility with languages … remarkable.”
With the songs from their upcoming collaborative recording, the Trio and Callaghan will take listeners on a haunting and beautiful musical journey through the complexities of the creative spirit, blending classical music with popular songs from around the world.
With a different concert every day for two weeks it is sometimes hard to keep up with the Northern Lights Festival but immersion is also a totally exhilarating experience in itself. Great arts festivals are few and far between. We are lucky to have one of such a high professional level in this area.