It's coming on the holidays, and while some are putting up reindeers, others are planning a quick last-minute trip to Norway and touring the Maritimes with a preschooler and infant in tow. Though she's touring her Christmas album (named, simply enough, Christmas), opera and classical singer Measha Brueggergosman says, "I'm not a big Christmassy person, funnily enough."
She readily admits to decorating with decorations borrowed from her mother and putting up last year's tree on Christmas Eve (in her Falmouth home, an hour outside Halifax, where the Fredericton-raised singer moved from Toronto in 2013 to be closer to family). Christmas has always been a big deal for her family, a time they can count on being together.
"It's not that clinging-cloying-annoying-brace-yourself-for-family-time type Christmas," she says. "We're more of an eats-a-lot, board-game-marathon-type family."
So what is it about Christmas music? "I liked the idea of having an album I could revisit without it being under the veil of nostalgia," Brueggergosman says. "Christmas returns every year. I wanted to record an album that would be not only a renewable resource, having something to tour every year, but being able to allow the musicianship to grow around a repertoire that stays the same."
Christmas took shape in a residency with Brueggergosman's band at the Banff Centre in 2013. "As a classical singer, someone who recreates the works of other people, it felt like a natural fit for me."
The album's tracks aren't only Christmas carols, but also songs like "Let Joy Reign," written with Royal Wood, and Joni Mitchell's lonely holiday classic "River." This is about acknowledging the diversity of people and experiences celebrating Christmas, Brueggergosman explains—though she herself is Christian, many people who celebrate the holiday don't consider themselves such, or have conflicted relationships to it.
"People celebrate Christmas, or don't, in many different ways," she says. "We didn't want anyone to exclude people for whom Christmas is a very difficult time, which is why I co-wrote the tune with Royal Wood, because Royal and I wanted to make a song for people who don't have the support and community, or are away from their support and community."
It's also a multilingual album, with songs in English, German and French. "I'm an opera singer. It's part of our mandate, and our responsibility, to work in multiple languages," says Brueggergosman.
Outside of her holiday tour of the Maritimes, Brueggergosman has a busy December and 2016 ahead of her. Her youngest child was born earlier this year, and as we meet, she's planning a last-minute trip to Norway during her one week off in December to fill in as soprano at a holiday concert. In the winter, she has concerts booked throughout North America and Europe, including a performance with the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra of Songs of Freedom, a musical and video documentary released this spring, where she explored her personal genealogy through research of African spirituals in archives in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Cameroon.
Christmas with Measha Brueggergosman
Tuesday, December 15, 8pm
Rebecca Cohn Auditorium
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