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Christmas season treats at the Concert Hall D

ear Lifestyles Readers: I am writing this col- umn in the wake of Mahlerfest. This week of concerts, dedicated to a composer who was in many ways the penultimate romantic, was a highlight of the fall season for me. His Second Symphony, Resurrection, left us with such an incredible song in our hearts! Thank you to all of you who came. I have looked forward to this week of music since we initially came up with the concept nearly two years ago. Now, in the midst of November, we are looking ahead to Hanukkah, Christmas and the holiday season. You probably think it is a little early to talk holidays. Well, we are always think-

Alexander Mickelthwate

Random Notes

ing a few months ahead at the Symphony! What this time of year really makes me think of is tra- ditions. It’s the time of year when family gathers, when all the generations come together. In my childhood in Germany, it was a two-month crescendo between the beginning of November and the beginning of January. We changed the entire apartment to fill it with Christ- mas decorations. My mother started at the beginning of November to make the famous stollen cake, with a recipe from her great-great-grandmother from Dresden. In November we sent CARE packages to East Ger- many, and one room was always full of coffee and chocolate, waiting to be posted. It was a huge produc- tion. Then, with the actual start of Advent, we had real candles every Sunday, kuchen and worked our way up to imported stollen from East Germany.

From Handel’s magnificent Messiah to Home Alone the Movie with a live orchestra there’s great music just ahead.

Winnipeggers soprano Victoria Marshall (left) and conductor Monica Huisman (right) will be part of Handel's Messiah for the WSO.

My mother’s stollen was reserved for Christmas Eve itself. The music we heard was always the Messiah, the Johannes Passion, the Weinnachts oratorio. It was the Dresden choir. There was a particularly beautiful Silent Night on that LP.

Christmas day started with a Christmas walk, then coffee in the kitchen, then a little bell rang and the doors opened to the living room, and it was full of candles. We had a small concert with myself and my two brothers playing Christmas songs. We recorded each concert on a tape machine for posterity. And then came the presents at the very end. We finished the evening with a pickled herring salad. It was a very traditional way of celebrat- ing. We called it gemutlich, something like “soulful”. At the symphony we have one perennial tradition: Handel’s Messiah. This work has endured hundreds of years because it symbolizes one of the key themes of the season, the life of Christ. For non-Christians, it is about the music itself, Handel’s expert entwining of arias, cho-

ruses, and ensembles. It is an incredible example of ora- torio writing. Myth has it that Handel wrote the work in just six weeks in a bout of spiritual inspiration. This year we are adding another great inter-genera- tional concert, Home Alone the Movie with live orches- tra. Why? The answer is simple: John Williams’ beauti- ful score. It is replete with lush orchestration, solos and charming melodies that show off our symphony at its best. It will be like 3D for your ears! We also present A Prairie Christmas with special guest, Mayor Brian Bow- man; host Ace Burpee and the amazing young Winni- pegger, Maria Aragon.

So, whatever your holiday traditions, make music a part of it. Come to the Concert Hall, introduce the next generation to beautiful music and keep warm as winter falls upon us! Alexander

Alexander Mickelthwate is music director of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.

Banking on nativity carvings at Christmas A craftsperson’s holiday sales can determine their financial prospects for the period ahead.

ping. Not all of us though. At Ten Thousand Villages, volunteers are looking forward to some relaxation with families, after a Christmas season that is typically strenu- ous and includes a special emotional attachment to the goods they’re selling. The products you see in our store at Christmas are often newly on the market or in-store only for the season, but in all cases the makers have worked hard for the selling period that has so much impact on


ith Christmas almost here, many people have completed their preparations or shop-

Gwen Repeta Fair Trade

their future. Sales during the Christmas season can often determine the makers’ orders for the upcoming year and hence plans for their family’s future. Ten Thousand Villages works with a number of groups who provide na- tivities in a wide array of colours, styles and sizes. From Peru ceramics to Kenya banana fibre, each nativity represents a culture and also the natural resources of an area, as well as a lot of talent. Nativities made by groups of artisans in the GE workshop, Mosleh workshop and in Raja Bannoura’s workshop, in

the Middle East’s West Bank, are beau- tiful creations made from olive wood, with a grain that looks like it is moving and flowing. The colours of each piece are unique. “This is more than a job,” says Bannoura, “it is part of our heritage.” Beit Sahour is a Pales- tinian village on the east- ern side of Bethlehem, where the economy has been devastated and al- most all aspects of daily life complicated by road closures and travel restric- tions. Here, Raja Bannou- ra co-ordinates orders for olive-wood carvers and workshops. He collects pruned olive branches

and wood, ensuring that olive trees are not cut down for carving purposes. In the West Bank, where employment is scarce, the sale of olive wood creations provides desperately needed income. Fair Trade, the philosophy underly-

ing Ten Thousand Villages, also means care for the environment, as is shown by a nativity made by a group called Pe- kerti Nusantara in Peru. Carved from Alstonia wood, a large tree found in Africa, Central America, Polynesia and southeast Asia, its density and grain are perfect for hand carving. Alstonia trees

Artisan Raja Bannoura shows off his nativity scene.

are widespread and not endangered. Each product has a story. Each prod- uct sold creates change in many peo- ple’s lives. Sales create more orders that create more work for the producers. Christmas is a time when we think of giving: giving to others, others giving to us, giving to the community. When we make a purchase of a Fair Trade product we are also giving the oppor- tunity to achieve a livelihood, which in turn gives dignity and hope to people around the world, who want their chil- dren to be able to go to school or learn a trade.

Fair Trade starts with producers be- ing paid what they really need to live, not what WE need to pay them in or-

Birchwood Terrace

in St. James

204-837-6911 2440 Portage Ave.

December 2015

der for us or others to make a bigger profit.

Christmas is a perfect season to think

about where the money we spend goes. Fair Trade gives us a choice to ensure it is going to the people who are the mak- ers, people like you and me who want to work for a living so families can have meals, education and a future. From our artisans’ families to yours, and from our volunteers to you, enjoy the season!

Gwen Repeta is Canadian rug program co-ordinator and manager of Ten Thou- sand Villages, at 134 Plaza Drive; phone 204-261-6387. You can learn more about Ten Thousand Villages and Fair Trade at

1 & 2 Bedroom apartments include: • Heat & water

• Central air conditioning • Walk-in closets • Fridge & stove • Draperies throughout • Mail delivery to each door • Elevators • Balconies

• On site laundry


• Bus service at door • 1 parking stall included • Seasonal pool • Underground parking • Conveniently located close to bus & shopping • On-site management • Pet-friendly (small dogs & cats)

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