December 13, 2012

Harpist meditates on winter


---- — JAY — The “Adirondack Harper” illuminates winter’s cold and darkness with “All on a Winter’s Night,” a concert Saturday evening at J.E.M.S.

“It’s a time to have light, friends and family around,” said Martha Gallagher. “That’s really the core of the show. The music is celebrating Christmas, New Year, family and friends. There’s a lot of nice music.”

The concert is not focused solely on Christmas music.

“I incorporate some of that because I love it. I don’t build a whole show around the holiday itself.”

Inside the Amos and Julia Ward Theatre, concert-goers will hear primarily original compositions.

The concert’s theme is also the name of a song that Gallagher wrote at her Keene residence.

“I was probably sitting in my house as it started to get dusk. There’s just a change. I remember being cold. There’s a real beauty to our time of year, winter in Northeast when the sun sets. The sun has been out. It’s sort of warm. Once that goes, the temperature drops. There all are these real interesting colors,” she said.

Sunset rose and forest purple.

“And (there’s) this real magical element to it. In my mind, I just want to stand there, though I may be really cold because it’s so fascinating. This song is like a poem and describes this very beautiful and cold element. It was a challenge to make the music match.”

A vocalist from way back via choir, rock and blues bands, Gallagher finds the harp a natural to accompany singing, though she didn’t feel much like it last year.

“Since all the flooding from Irene, our house was still in ruins. I wasn’t feeling really jolly. I love Christmastime,” she said.

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is a holiday song she never much liked. But post-Tropical Storm Irene …

“That one really spoke to me,” Gallagher said. “The arrangement I came up with is pretty melancholy. I struck a note. Since then, I like to think it has grown from being melancholy to being real quiet and peaceful.”

“For the Love of a Baby” is the title track for Gallagher’s Christmas CD.

“It’s based on this wonderful short story by Ruth Sawyer of how the robin got its red breast. The story is when Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus were going into Egypt to escape Herod, they met a band of gypsies. At first, the gypsies don’t want them to stay because they have the law after them. They are allowed to stay,” Gallagher said.

When everyone is asleep, embers from a fire blow toward the baby.

“The robin in a tree sees this and flies down and spreads her wings and catches the embers on her chest, of course getting burned, but she does it to protect the baby,” she said.

Saturday’s concert is a mix of material.

“Its going to be a show that’s great for all ages,” Gallagher said.

Email Robin Caudell:

IF YOU GO WHAT: "All On A Winter's Night," a concert by Martha Gallagher, the "Adirondack Harper." WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday. WHERE: Amos and Julia Ward Theater at J.E.M.S., Jay. ADMISSION: $10.