Christ Church Cathedral put on a different approach to Christmas with The Winter Garden, curated by Lynn Cahill and Jim Nolan, featuring prose, poetry, singing and harp music, in a Sunday Miscellany style.
For many, Christmas is very much about expectation and my expectation before entering the venue was for a Victorian setting, candlelight, Christmas Trees, shiny presents, Victorian costumes with red and amber lights and lots of blue spots. What I got was a more austere setting in these recessionary times, more words than I expected and a major absence of humour.
The evening grew on me, thanks to the evocative harp music of Lynn Saoirse, especially her topical Alleluia from Leonard Cohen. Eoin Power’s beautiful bass singing and the crisp clarity of Caroline Reid O’Brien’s soprano range created a wonderful cocoon to bask in.
Her work on the 12th century Wexford Carol and the In Bleak Mid-Winter were special. Tom Nealon impressed with Maire Mhac an tSaoi’s Oiche Nollaig and he brought much needed humour to the production with a John B Keane story.
Michael Coady read us his poem, Roundeley and story Midwinter Butterfly, to great effect. Julian Walton was polished with an extract from Cider With Rosie, Adam Wallace read a 1915 letter from the First World War to a Waterford family and Jim Nolan created the Christmas Sean Dunne wrote about in In My Father’s House. Sile Penkert read and Siobhan Keappock accompanied the singers in piano.
The applause from a capacity audience was warm and sustained with a seasonal sense of good wishes as people went out into an indifferent night.