In the first Listening Post essay after a fundraiser I usually focus on thanking everybody for their support and talk a little about what that support means to us at NCPR and to the work we do. But Brian Mann has already done a great job of that at The In Box this morning, so I’ll take a different tack.
This morning would have been the last big push toward goal in an ordinary fundraiser, and I would normally be reduced to a state of exhausted babblement by now. My nearly fourteen years with NCPR had resigned me to reserving two weeks each year to doing nothing but fundraise. Don’t leave town; don’t stray far from a phone and an internet connection. Eat, sleep, pitch, write, strategize, and not much else.
But last night, instead, I was able to enjoy a perfect North Country experience. Leave work a little early, grab the passport, turn off the cell phone and head north for the border. Rt. 2 upriver along the St. Lawrence from Prescott is one of the great fall (or any season) drives anywhere. Picturesque towns built to last from native stone and brick, sweeping views of America across the river sporting the golden end of fall color, far over shallows thick with migrating waterfowl of a dozen species.
Our destination was Brockville, one of the best river towns anywhere. (You should visit by water some time.) After a fine dinner in good company, in a restaurant housed in a two-century-old stone inn down on the waterfront, we headed a mile west to the Brockville Arts Centre to hear an unforgettable performance by one of my all-time favorites–Loreena McKennitt–whose journeys I have followed for more than twenty years as she traces the music of the Celtic migrations across the world.
Unlike the stereotype of the soprano diva, McKennitt has a gift for collaboration, drawing together a remarkable and long-lasting family of musicians around her. Her normal tour band numbers nearly a dozen and she sells out big halls across North America and Europe. But last night was an “intimate evening” in a small hall with two of her longtime partners, the stellar cellist Caroline Lavelle, and guitarist Brian Hughes, complementing McKennitt’s harp and piano, and framing that powerful and stratospheric voice that could pierce the hardest heart. Given the multiple standing ovations and two encores, it appears she did.
So thanks for the great night out. It probably wasn’t what you were intending to do when you went early to the donation page this year, but in fact, you all have not only made it a lot easier for all of us at NCPR to do our work, you have made it a little easier for us to get a life, too. Thanks for changing the game.