Jigs in the Cathedral …

March 6, 2009 § 9 Comments


HM and I had a date thursday nite. Thursday is often our Friday. We’ve learned to begin the weekend early ramping up on monday, ramping up on tuesday, really hitting it on wednesday and thursday, then the start the “ah” factor on thurs eve. 

So last night (thurs even) off we trotted to the Cathedral in the Central West End.

“To the cathedral for a date? “you ask.? “Hmmmm,”  you say and scratch your head. “Yes,” you finally agree, “maybe during Lent there could be something to that.  But on a thursday nite?” You’re still not convinced of the dating/cathedral combo.


Well, we had tickets to hear the Dublin Philharmonic. Performing right there in the sanctuary, rocking the frescoes, the murals, the gold leaf, the Byzantine tiles, the rocooco rock swirly things and the narthex, all moved to their very beautiful mason stoned roots.

HM couldn’t refrain from tapping and leaning into the rhythms and counterpoints. He’s a natural musician. I think my mouth hung open in surprise most of the time. The first half of the performance was Brahms, a very complex composer by the way , and not all about lullabies like you might think.


The second half of the program was Celtic music. Blimey, I was lost in a wonderland of evocative music, foggy glens, mountains wet with waterfalls, and the wind and birds calling. The music painted all that and more. Of course there was the dance-y aspect, too, made for people to stand up in squares or circles and enjoy flinging themselves around together, smiling, smiling and smiling.

How many feet were indeed tapping in the cathedral last night? About 500. And the dueling violins. The Uilleann pipes. The bodhran and oh the many talents of this percussionist who also has toured with River Dance.  (of course, I’m a River Dance lover.  Hey, come on, there are those among you who get chills over the Cats rendering of “Memory,” right?    Well, we “River Dance” lovers are much the same.  I’m not talking about the Flatley-type antics or the flamenco they threw into that show – no, it’s the line dancing and the dancers’ posture and the sound of it all, the rhythm. Whoa, I digress…)

The musician’s were dressed formally more or less but that was the fun of it too (ah, yes, yawn – that’s me, your own little fashion critic.) But no, really, listen,  they had on whatever their personal version of black gowns (also dark purple and some brown) or tuxedos – some with the black silk stripe in the pants, some seemingly of corduroy, some lighter colors (brown) with a cut similar to what you might see on a leprechaun king. But the hair, oh, the hair! Loved it loved it loved it. The blonds, the reds, the raven haired. The soloist with his hair pulled back in a short  pony tail at the top back of his head, like a Samurai … SamurIrish. And he sat and smiled hugely when he wasn’t playing and he smiled and shook hands with his soloist cohorts (he was the Uellian pipe player, also the banjo, also the guitar player) and there was a unique presence there on the stage. The conductor love every member of his orchestra, himself a young, shaggy haired, stick of a thing with a Napoleon presence and even at that distance, the twinkle in his eye shone.

And there was the violinist who I would love to have at every party henceforth – he played as easily as any of us breathes – he played as though he interpreted everything as song, as notes, and he played and talked to us and played some more. And the grinning guy just kept grinning. And the percussionist just kept being amazing using his bodhran, his bongos and drums and wind chimes.


Those who excel in a skill always have the ability to make it look easy.

“Was it worth it for  the  45 minute drive each way? Being out late on a work night? Sitting in the confines of a soaring stone church?” you ask.

“Oh, well,” I answer, looking you in the eye. “Twas indeed.”
And HM and I walked away into the night when the music stopped, dancing still to the fluent notes that play still in my head.


Thought you might enjoy a peek at St. Louis’s fondly named “New” cathedral, formally known as the Cathedral Basilica. I swear you could stand up and sing in there  and your voice would come out sounding finer than fine, it would curve and become dulcet and pure as it slid against and thenoff those en-statued walls, the notes tuning to some suprising perfection and then rising skyward, as song is meant to.




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§ 9 Responses to Jigs in the Cathedral …

  • qugrainne says:

    Oh, how wonderful, and you paint the picture beautifully – I could hear it!!!
    What a lovely evening. I love those odd combinations – classical instruments with pipes and drums and in a cathedral no less.
    Music is a universal language, isn’t it!?

  • jeanie says:

    I cannot tell you how much I love this post. And how I desperately wish I’d been there, too — there is little I love more than a fabulous symphony orchestra performing in a beautiful church (and this IS a beautiful church — more than beautiful — how I love those photos!). I felt as though I was there with you — what mastery of words! And while I DO love Brahms, to me Celtic is the ultimate soul music — it gets me right where I live, whether it is the haunting minor tunes or the wild and crazy jigs! (And I ADORE Riverdance — when they get in that line — I am in awe!)

    Oh, I loved this!

    FYI — I emailed two prayers to you this morning. Since you didn’t get the other I’m hopeful this will come through — let me know.

  • shoreacres says:

    Such lovely, evocative writing. I love cathedrals, and I love performances in cathedrals – music, dance and drama all. But the Dublin Philharmonic? Special in a multitude of ways – and how “you” to notice the hair!

    Tucked in my suitcase of “things to rescue from the storm” is The Fife, given to me by my grandfather but belonging to my grandmother, as it was her father’s, and his father’s before him. Great-great-grandpa was from County Down before landing in Iowa with his wife. He was in the 34th Iowa in the Civil War, and I imagine him carrying that fife with him from his first battle (Yazoo Landing) to his mustering out in Houston.

    Surely he would have played my childhood favorite that Grandpa always sang to me – “Star of the County Down”. Perhaps that’s too pedestrian, too common for your musicians to have played – but if they did, how wonderful it would have been!

  • ds says:

    How wonderful! The concert, your description, the photographs…Brahms and Celtic on the same programme; to me, that’s daring. I do love Celtic music–it is haunting & joyful at the same time (and yes, I’m a fan of Riverdance too–as you say, it’s the posture, firm and straight while the feet make such incredible moves). I’ll be flinging myself about all day now–thank you!

  • anno says:

    What a beautiful evening! I can see (and hear) it all — thanks for every detail!

  • seachanges says:

    What a great post – and the photographs! I love your evocation of the music in the cathedral and I wish I could have been there!

  • oh says:

    Q- thanks…also, i’ve tried to upload the movie/video files I took at the concert…hmmm… still working that out.

    Jeanie- so glad you enjoyed it. There is something about celtic that resonates and I loved that this performance was so unique.

    Oh, Shoreacres, I don’t know if they played “Star of the County Down.” When I read your note, I got all excited; I was SURE that soloist Frankie Gavin mentioned it before playing one of his songs. While HM, on the other hand, heard something completely different, that is was the “Brahms of County Down…” And the program did not list the names of the songs!!!I am now going in search of the song you mention – what a wonderful family story!

    ds – Yay, you’re a RiverDance fan! So glad you spent the day “dancing!” (What is it about the Celtic music that we relate to? probably worthy of another entry.)

    Anno- glad you could “see” it- seems I left out so much and you know how you think you could always have taken so many more pictues? happy St. Patrick’s to you!

    Seachanges – glad you enjoyed! Funny, I mean normally who would think of putting celtic music in a cathedral? Brilliant!

  • Karen H. says:

    That sounds truly wonderful. Thanks for sharing a peek into your date.

    Oh, and I just posted an overheard at the bookclub meeting post today since you had mentioned wanting to know a few details last Friday. It was quite fun! Talk soon.

  • shoreacres says:

    It’s possible you and HM both were right, and that they did a bit of a classical take-off. Here’s a link to one of my favorite recordings ever – has the flavor of what I heard growing up. And, it has the lyrics printed on the sidebar – always a nice touch.

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