If it is early December, you can count on “Celtic Guitar God” Robin Bullock heading up a holiday concert for the Institute of Musical Traditions. So tonight, Candice and I joined about 150 other traditional music fans for the 2012 edition of the IMT Celtic holiday concert.
Bullock was joined this year by Scottish champion fiddler Elke Baker and hammered dulcimer player Ken Kolodner. The evening was filled with traditional Christmas carols as well as Scottish and Irish old time music, all played with great enthusiasm and musiciaenship.
Baker and Kolodner played several beautiful duets, including two of my favorite holiday tunes: the haunting In the Bleak Midwinter and the French carol Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella. All three joined together for extended sets of Cape Breton, French Canadian, and Celtic fiddle tunes.
However, my favorite parts of this concert each year focus around Bullock’s solo guitar work. Tonight he had beautiful arrangements of The Wexford Carol and a great mash-up of classical carols as played in the style of Mississippi John Hurt. But one of the most moving arrangements was of It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, where Bullock quoted the seldom-used fifth verse and opined that while it was perhaps seen as harsh, it still fit in these times:
Yet with the woes of sin and strife, the world has suffered long; Beneath the angel-strain have rolled two-thousand years of wrong; And man, at war with man, hears not the love-song which they bring; O hush the noise, ye men of strife, and hear the angels sing.
A wonderful night of great music. Enjoy the video below of Robin Bullock playing the Irish tune Lord Inchiquin at last year’s IMT Celtic holiday concert.
More to come…