Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Claire Roche at 5 Trails Winery

The music of a harp may be unusual in modern-day Nebraska, but it certainly wasn't to the early settlers of the region, the fur trappers and mountain men of Scots-Irish descent who crossed the plains on the Great Platte River Road, or the Irish gandy dancers who built the railroad. If they didn't have access to the wonderfully intricate instruments, then they certainly carried the melodies in their hearts.

Pat Gamet of 5 Trails Winery in Paxton welcomes his guests to enjoy the evening of music he has arranged for them - and of course to sample some of the delicious wine.

Pats musical guest for the night is Claire Roche, who is traveling through on the last leg of her U.S. tour. We are so fortunate that Pat has decided to include regular musical programs as part of his winerys offerings, and that it worked out to have Claire perform. The evening was magical.
As I mentioned earlier, harp music isn't typically available in rural Nebraska, but those who were able to enjoy it Tuesday night were treated to an amazing performance by Claire. The bio on her website describes Claire's relationship with her instrument in this way:
Claire has chosen the harp to be her accompliment, her choir, her veil to the “otherworld”. Her words, music and passion gently warms the hearts of those present and fires their spirits into passion, courage, tears, love and laughter.

Claire had barely begun to play before it became clear why the English found it necessary to ban harp music in Ireland in the 1600's. No people with access to this kind of soul-stirring music could be long oppressed.

Outside, an April snow was falling, but the winery was filled with music, friends and fun.Live music in an intimate setting stirs conversation, and this was definitely true of Claire's wonderful harp melodies. It is hard to describe the experience of listening to Claire without attempting to delve deep into the emotional connection with the beautiful music she creates. However, I am hardly qualified to put words to these kinds of sentiments, so you will have to be satisfied with my encouragement that you experience it for yourself at your first opportunity!
Claire is accompanied on her tour by John from Celtic Dreamtime. They are a perfect partnership, with his words and her music combining to tell the story of Celtic heritage and tradition. John hosts tours of Ireland, and after listening to the stories he told, I imagine they must be wonderful tours. John is teaming up with Marc Gunn for a couple of Celtic Invasion Vacations of Scotland and Ireland coming up in May and June. That is certain to be a winning combination.

It was easy to imagine that we weren't in a cozy wine tasting room in Paxton Nebraska, but in an ancient hall where the minstrel and story teller were the entertainment for the evening.

During intermission, we had an opportunity to speak with Claire, which is one of the hallmarks of a House Concert (or in this case Winery Concert) - getting to know the artists personally. When we told her we were hosting her friend Marc Gunn at a concert later this month, she actually expressed her appreciation to us for providing a venue for musicians. After all of the enjoyment was had just gotten out of her music, she was thanking us? Incredible.

As with all concerts, it was over far too quickly, but the CDs we picked up will allow us to enjoy Claires music at our leisure.
Outside, the snow was continuing to fall, but the wonderful thing about April snow storms is that you know it won't be around long, so it's easy to enjoy the beauty and serenity of the falling snow. We ended up with about three inches of snow, which was gone by late morning in the fifty degree day that followed. The snow was preceded by a quantity of rain, so we'll get to test out the "April showers bring May flowers" adage this year. Thank you for joining me once again on one of our adventures in the Nebraska Outback. Sometimes an adventure is as simple as joining with friends to experience some great music and wine. It sure beats sitting at home in front of the television! What adventures have you gone on recently?

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