Music has so much to offer. It can entertain us but it can also challenge our intellect, stretch our creativity and soothe our emotions. This summer I am discovering that it can also bring you closer to your roots.
My hometown is being highlighted in an outdoor theatrical production this summer. The St. Joseph historical society commissioned a talented area play-write,Paul Ciufo, to compose a script based on the story of Narcisse Cantin. You see, Cantin lived on the shore of Lake Huron in a french settlement with other families who had traveled from Quebec looking for good farm land and proserity. He began to build a wharf and develop a city which he named St. Joseph with the intention of building a huge canal so ships could cut across south-western Ontario. Well I am sure you can guess the outcome, especially if you have ever visited St Joseph. The story is phenomenal though and our director Duncan McGregor has put an amazing cast together…..but the music is what makes it all come to life!
Duncan and Paul decided early on to add some French Canadian folk songs to the production and with the help of a former Quebec resident they came up with some wonderful music to weave through the show. Fiddlers, singers, guitars, accordions, tin whistles, a flute, banjo and keyboard transports us back to the late 1800’s and immerse us in french culture.
For me the experience of learning these songs has been more than rehearsal of lines. My grandparents and great-grandparents on both sides inhabited St. Joseph. The songs we are singing are songs that they would have sung at parties and in the fields and kitchens while working.
Having the chance to speak the native language of my family is a treat and I am so grateful for the chance to share that with my children. I am developing a greater understanding of my heritage and can’t help but feel closer to the members of my family who have passed on.
Do you know the music of your heritage? Do a search, ask your relatives. An important piece of you is just waiting to be discovered.
In the meantime I would love for you to learn more about mine. Visit www.narcissetheplay.com for more info about the show or to purchase tickets.