WINTER FANTASY TOUR SEES LIONA BOYD IN CONCERT
PUMPKINS NOW RELEGATED TO the compost bin, it’s all Christmas, all the time at this point.
And that’s just fine with Liona Boyd, who launches her holiday show this month, including a stop at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in Kitchener on November 19. That will be the second concert of A Winter Fantasy as the season gets going.
As has been the case for the last couple of years, she’ll be joined by Waterloo’s Andrew Dolson, a classically trained guitarist and singer.
The tour takes its name from the 2015 CD, Boyd’s third Christmas album.
“My favourite is the latest one. It’s got a real magical feel to it,” she said. “I just love the pieces on A Winter Fantasy because they’re all traditional, but with my own arrangements.”
She and Dolson will be playing tunes from the album. There will be solos and songs performed as a duo.
Though largely Christmas-oriented, she’ll likely include at least a couple of songs to mark the country’s sesquicentennial, including “Canada My Canada” from her 2013 ode to the country she came to from England at the age of 8, The Return… to Canada with Love, and “Song of Ontario.”
Given that she’s got a new album out – No Remedy for Love, the same title is affixed to her new autobiography – there’s a chance for a song or two.
Boyd is certainly energized by the new album, which takes its name from David Thoreau’s “There is no remedy for love but to love more.” It builds on the singer-songwriter aspect of her career, on which she’s focussed in the aftermath of musician’s focal dystonia in her right hand, a neurological condition linked to constant repetition of certain movements.
The album is as personal as the autobiography, covering her environmental concerns (A Prayer for Planet Earth), her memories of teenage love (the ABBA-esque Near To You) and her regard for singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot (Lightfoot), with whom she toured in the early part of her career in the 1970s. The title song being a bit more cynical about love than has been her own experience, she thought of Leonard Cohen and sent the song to him for input, ultimately dedicating it to him prior to his passing. The two had developed a friendship years earlier when they were both living in Los Angeles.
But Christmas remains the focus of the upcoming concert. As with past shows such as last year’s pre-yuletide stop at St. James Lutheran Church in Elmira, Boyd will be performing with local choirs. For the Kitchener concert, it will be The Cambridge Kiwanis Boys Choir.
“I love working with children’s choirs,” she said, noting they lend a special quality to the music.
Working with local choirs is part of the allure of touring small towns, which she still enjoys as part of a career that let her travel the globe, playing from Carnegie Hall to Nepal, performing for a variety of audiences that has included heads of state and royalty.
“My career has let me explore the world. It’s been fantastic,” she said. “I’ve certainly lived an unusual life.”
She traces that back to attending a classical performance with her mother at the age of 13. It set her on a path that’s taken her to where she is today. And it’s a reason she encourages parents to bring their children to such concerts. Likewise, she always makes time to speak with fans after a show, autographing materials and merchandise on sale, remembering her own nervous interactions with performers she enjoyed when she was young.
“I hope people will bring their kids. It’s important to start young, to introduce them to music,” she said, noting that the show makes classical music very accessible. “Classical music has a special quality.”
A Winter Fantasy takes place November 19 at 7 p.m. at St. Matthews Lutheran Church, 54 Benton St. Kitchener. Tickets are $40, available online at www.kwtickets.ca (look for “St. Matthews Church” in the Main Group listing), by calling (519) 578-1570 or toll-free 1-800-265-8977, or at the Centre In The Square box office.
Liona Boyd and Andrew Dolson with the Mississauga Children’s Choir during last year’s tour.